Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Center: Settler violence peaked in 2011

A Palestinian woman gestures in front of graffiti, reading "war" in Hebrew,
sprayed on the wall of a mosque in the West Bank village of Burqa, near
Ramallah on Dec. 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians and their property in the West Bank have tripled in the past five years, a Washington-based think tank said Tuesday.

Violence by Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements reached a peak in 2011, when the number of attacks grew by 39 percent from the previous year, according to the report by the Palestine Center.

Most settler attacks now occur in the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, overtaking the southern Hebron district as the most concentrated center of violence, the report said.

Source: When Settlers Attack, The Palestine Center, 2012

The assaults rise during the annual olive harvest season, and predominantly target rural villages, the report noted, suggesting that "settlers are exploiting unfettered access to isolated Palestinian villages to perpetrate violence more than ever before."

More than 90 percent of villages which have experienced multiple attacks by settlers are in areas of the West Bank under full Israeli security control, the report added.

Source: When Settlers Attack, The Palestine Center, 2012

Arson attacks have grown from six percent of settler violence in 2005 to 11 percent in 2011, it said.

"With a more than 300 percent increase in settler violence of the past five years and nearly 2.7 incidents per day in 2011, settler violence presents a daily challenge to Palestinians," Executive Director of the Palestine Center Yousef Munayyer said.

So-called 'price tag' attacks, when settlers harm Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government measures against the settlements, make up a small portion of overall violence, Munayyer argues in the report.

The report suggests that while settler violence does increase following Israeli government actions against settlements, the 'price tag' phenomenon cannot account for larger trends in Israeli settler violence.

"It is in fact because the Israeli state overwhelming fails to confront the settlers and provide protection for Palestinians and their property, that settlers are emboldened and perpetuate attacks," the report says.

It calls on Israel to crack down on known centers of settler violence, and thoroughly investigate all assaults. The report authors also urge Palestinian leaders to provide training, documentation, and medical resources to villages most at risk from settler violence.

The study analyzed over 3,700 separate incidents of settler violence recorded by the inter-agency Palestinian Monitoring Group between September 2004 and December of 2011.

Maan News Agency