Attacks recently have been reported throughout the West Bank, with settlers assaulting Palestinians, vandalising property and poisoning livestock.

 

"We urge the international community, including the Quartet (which sponsors the roadmap plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians) to intervene immediately to stop this unmitigated aggression," Ahmad Subh, a Palestinian deputy minister of information, said.

 

The Quartet is made up of the US, European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

 

In an interview on Saturday with Aljazeera.net, Subh accused the Israeli government and army of "lacking the will and determination to rein in the settlers" and "even acquiescing to settler provocations".

 

"Does anybody in this world believe that the mighty Israeli army can't control a few extremist settlers who are hell-bent on savaging and terrorising peaceful and defenceless Palestinian villagers?

 

"It is not a matter of inability, it is a matter of unwillingness if not outright complicity. Inaction here implies acquiescence," Subh said.

 

Daily attacks

 

Jewish settlers in Gaza are accused
of impeding Israeli withdrawal

According to Palestinian and Israeli sources, settler attacks and provocations in the Palestinian countryside have increased recently.

 

On Friday, heavily armed Talmudic students from the settlement of Yitshar near Nablus attacked a nearby Palestinian village, Asira al Kibliya, smashing windows and injuring a number of Palestinians.

 

However, when troops later sought to investigate, the settlers reportedly erected roadblocks, preventing soldiers from entering the settlement.

  

Last week, as many as 30 Talmudic students attacked four Palestinian labourers west of Ram Allah with sticks, hoses and sharp objects.

 

One worker suffered serious head injury in the attack. None of the perpetrators was arrested.

 

Sheep poisoned

Jewish settlers were said to have
tried to poison Palestinian sheep

In the southern Hebron hills, settlers on 21 March distributed poisoned feed across a 10-acre area used as grazing land for local shepherds near the village of Tuwaani.

 

"The pellets are small and turquoise blue, similar to rodent poison in the US. They are spread under bushes and in the grass, pretty much anywhere the sheep graze," Kim Lamberty, a Christian peace activist who inspected the area, said.

 

The next day, several sheep died and many others were ill after grazing. Palestinians have also found two dead gazelles in the area.

 

Problem

 

"We are afraid that Israeli government's flaccidity and inaction toward the settlers might embolden them to commit real massacres against our people"

Ahmad Subh,
Palestinian Foreign Ministry

When the Palestinians informed the Israeli police, they were told that a settler investigator would take care of the problem.

 

"This malicious act not only affects the economic livelihood of the area farmers, it could have grave impact on the wildlife in the area. The local Palestinian people along with international activists are currently attempting to clean up the contaminated site," Lamberty said.

 

On 24 March, masked settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds and two American activists, an 18-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man. They were injured as the settlers tried to prevent them from filming the attacks.

 

A spokesman for the Israeli army told Aljazeera.net that the army was not responsible for "these communal riots" and that responsibility for "such problems" lay with the police.

 

"We are afraid that Israeli government's laxity and inaction toward the settlers might embolden them to commit real massacres against our people," Subh told Aljazeera.net.