West Bank Palestinians frequently experience systematic violence and other forms of intimidation at the hands of Jewish-Israeli settlers who seek to drive them off their land. The United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) has reported 127 confirmed settler attacks against Palestinians and their property in this year alone.
In one such attack, on the evening of May 4, Bashir Hmeid, a 65-year-old Palestinian from the village of Burin, which is near Nablus, received a phone call from his neighbour, who told him Israeli settlers were burning his land. He said: “I was scared to go to the land and get attacked by the settlers. I was also scared that if I left the house, the settlers would take this opportunity to attack it, which they have done before when we were not at home.”
The international community has frequently denounced such acts. However, its words of condemnation have not been accompanied by firm action and, as a result, the settlers, who enjoy the firm support of Israel’s political and military establishments, continue to act with impunity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Indeed, this latest burst of violence could well be a ‘follow-on’ from protests in Jerusalem last month, when Israeli demonstrators openly called for Palestinian villages to burn.