Israeli attacks on Palestinians raise fear of future escalation

Jerusalem: Increasing Israeli settler attacks targeting villages in the West Bank area of Nablus in recent weeks leave Palestinians wary of further escalation.

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A 40-year-old, Kayed Odeh, the owner of a construction material store in the town of Huwara, was at work on January 24, when about twenty settlers attacked his shop and car.

Israeli settlers armed with sticks, rifles, pepper spray and tear gas canisters caused $14,000 of damage. As per the media reports, the criminals smashed the front of his shop and his car.

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An attack by a group of Israeli settlers on Kayed Odeh’s shop in the town of Huwara, West Bank on January 24 caused damage worth $14,000. Photo: Arab News

It was the latest in a series of violent incidents against Palestinians at the hands of settlers in the West Bank. Settler groups are active throughout the West Bank and regularly target Palestinians.

According to Palestinian security officials, several settler groups that either call for violence or have carried out violent attacks against Palestinians are operating in the West Bank. The Yitzhar settlement near Nablus and the old city of Hebron are strongholds of these violent extremists, Arab News reported.

“The purpose of the settlers’ attacks on the lives and properties of the Palestinians is to force them to leave their lands, to be later seized,” Younis Arar, head of the International Relations Unit in the Commission to Combat the Wall and Settlement, told Arab News.

Israeli settler attacks have been escalating – both in frequency and ferocity – since 2014. However, residents and observers say that over the past few months, and particularly since the recent Palestinian protests since mid-April 2021, the Israeli army has been using settlers as a tool to further repress Palestinians. 

In 2021, Israeli settlers injured at least 170 Palestinians and killed five, according to the United Nation.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which Israel also seized in that war. Israel claims that the entire city of Jerusalem is its indivisible capital.

More than 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel took control of the West Bank in 1967 and established settlements on it, which are considered in violation of international law.

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