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Middle East

UN: attacks on West Bank Palestinians on rise

Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians up four-fold in eight years, according to Humanitarian Affairs office report.

Last updated: 17 Jan 2014 10:35
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In the latest attack, a mosque was set on fire and vandalised with graffiti [AP]

The number of attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank has increased every year for the past eight years, according to figures from the United Nations.

About 2,100 attacks have been launched by Israelis since 2006 and annual totals are up from 115 that year to 399 in 2013, according to the UN, which started counting such assaults in 2006.

More than 17,000 Palestinians, 342 settlers and 37 soldiers have been injured and 10 Palestinians and 29 settlers killed in attacks in the West Bank.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs relayed its report to the Associated Press news agency. 

The policy of the IDF is to interrupt and stop every incident when a person attacks another person.

Colonel Eran Makov, deputy commander of an Israeli army division in the West Bank

Most recently, Jewish settlers have been suspected of setting fire to a mosque’s entrance and of writing “Arabs out” and “Revenge for blood spilled in Qusra” in Hebrew on its exterior walls.

Wednesday’s vandalism is thought to have been provoked by an incident last week where Palestinians beat and detained about a dozen settlers in the village of Qusra, near the northern city of Nablus.

Israeli settlers have damaged hundreds of trees, killed 18 sheep and set six cars alight in dozens of attacks in Qusra in what is called the “price tag” campaign, according to Mayor Abdel Azim Wadi. The village has also lost half of its lands to settlements.

'Outright terrorism'

Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law and there are thought to be close to 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the occupied territories, land seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.

 UN strike hurts refugees

Palestinians have said "price tag", a campaign started by Jewish settlers that involves committing acts of violence, is part of Israel's policy of seizing control of the West Bank, adding that soldiers do very little to stop attacks.

But the Israeli defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, called such acts of violence “outright terrorism” last week. And Israeli leaders, who are mostly pro-settlement, repeatedly denounce violence between settlers and Palestinians.

Soldiers have clear orders to stop all violence between civilians in the territory, according to Colonel Eran Makov, the deputy commander of an Israeli army division in the West Bank.

"There is not enough pressure from the prime minister, the defense minister, the interior minister to prevent this," said Gadi Zohar, a former senior Israeli army commander in the West Bank.

“The policy of the IDF [the Israeli army] is to interrupt and stop every incident when a person attacks another person,” Makov said. 

Israel’s military correspondent Amos Harel, however, admitted in Israel's Haaretz newspaper that young soldiers think their basic mission is to protect Jewish settlers.

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestine resumed in August 2013 after a five-year hiatus, but have made little progress as Israel stokes tensions by continuing to announce new settlements in the West Bank.

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AP
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