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Special Focus: Israeli Settlers Wilfully Kill a Palestinian, Attack Palestinian Homes and Families - Reporting Period: 1 April - 15 April 2019

Tuesday, 21 May 2019 14:00 Date: 21 May 2019
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One of the settlers pointing his gun at Muhammad Abdel Fatah (on the ground), photo taken from https://www.wattan.tv/ar/news/279561.htmlSince 1967, Israel’s settlement enterprise has expanded throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in violation of international law, resulting in the establishment of more than 250 settlements and outposts, with more than 600,000 settlers illegally residing therein.[1] Settlements obstruct the realisation of human rights for the Palestinian population, including inter alia, the right to self-determination and freedom of movement. In addition, settlements are often situated close to Palestinian villages and communities, resulting in increased incidents of settler violence and attacks against Palestinians.[2]

In 1994, the United Nations (UN) Security Council addressed the issue of Israeli settler violence under UN Security Council Resolution 904, requiring that Israel “implement measures, including, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers.” Notably, Israel did not confiscate arms to settlers, leading to marked and consistent increases in settler attacks across the West Bank, with the UN OCHA reporting the highest monthly statistics in settler attacks in the first four months of 2018,[3] the proliferation of settlements,[4] sweeping State policies and incentivisation for the transfer in of Israeli settlers[5] and the fragmentation of the contiguity of the OPT. In 2018, Israeli newspapers reported State plans by Minister Gilad Erdan to ease gun ownership restrictions on settlers, making persons with infantry firearms experience eligible to obtain a gun permit, with each gun having 50 bullets.[6] This would increase gun ownership by 35,000 to 40,000 gun permits, bringing the number of gun permits in Israel to 200,000. According to Israeli parliamentarian, Amir Ohana, MK, “A civilian who carries a gun is more of a solution than a threat, and serves as a force multiplier for the security forces.”[7]

In 2019, Al-Haq continued to document incidents of settler violence, including killings, physical attacks, and attacks against Palestinian property, forced evictions and verbal assaults. In such instances, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) do not intervene to stop the settlers from carrying out attacks, and instead provide support and protection for settlers, while settlers are rarely held to account for their attacks against Palestinians.[8] The institutionalized impunity enjoyed by settlers from the Israeli forces and government further encourages them to continue to commit and escalate attacks against Palestinians. This is evidenced in the three cases below, between 1 and 15 April 2019, during which settlers killed a Palestinian young man and physically attacked Palestinian families and individuals in Nablus.

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[1] B’Tselem, “Settlements”, 1 January 2011, last updated on 16 January 2019, available at: https://www.btselem.org/settlements/statistics

[2] See for example: Al-Haq, “Arson Attack Emblematic of Israel’s Settlement Enterprise”, 2 August 2015, www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/settlements-and-settler-violence/947-arson-attack-emblematic-of-israels-settlement-enterprise;  Al-Haq, “Armed Israeli Settler Kill One Palestinian and Injure 30 Other in an Attack on Al-Mghayyer Village”, 16 February 2019, www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1355-armed-israeli-settlers-kill-one-palestinian-and-injure-30-others-in-an-attack-on-al-mghayyer-village-; Al-Haq, “Continuing Impunity for Israeli Settlers: One Palestinian Killed, Property Vandalized in the West Bank”, 23 April 2018, http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1219-continuing-impunity-for-israeli-settlers-one-palestinian-killed-property-vandalized-in-the-west-bank; Al-Haq, “Israeli Settlements and Settler Violence in Hebron”, 26 April 2015, www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/924-israeli-settlements-and-settler-violence-in-hebron; Al-Haq, “Settler Violence Escalates as Large Settler Mobs Attack Palestinian Civilians”, 20 January 2018, www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1173-settler-violence-escalates-as-large-settler-mobs-attack-palestinian-civilians; Al-Haq, “Escalations in Settler Violence: Molotov Cocktail Severely Injures Palestinian Family”, 23 August 2018, www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/618-escalation-in-settler-violence-molotov-cocktail-severely-injures-palestinian-family; Al-Haq, “Settler Violence in the West Bank”, 7 August 2014, www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/840-settler-violence-in-the-west-bank.

[3] OCHA, “Increase in settler violence during the first four months of 2018”, May 2018, available at: https://www.ochaopt.org/content/increase-settler-violence-during-first-four-months-2018

[4] Peace Now, “Settlement Construction Starts Increased Threefold in the Second Quarter of 2018” 17 September 2018, available at: http://peacenow.org.il/en/settlement-construction-starts-increased-threefold-second-quarter-2018 :“The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics today published data on construction starts in Israel and the West Bank, indicating that in the second quarter of 2018, 794 new apartments were built in the settlements, compared with only 279 in the first quarter. In the first half of 2018, construction began on 1,073 settlement housing units, compared to 870 in the first half of 2017.”

[5] B’Tselem, “Settlements”, 11 November 2017, available at: https://www.btselem.org/settlements

[6] “Israel to ease Israeli settlers' gun ownership restrictions” Ma’an News Agency (14 July 2018), available at: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=780409; Josh Briener, “Thousands of Guns Could Flood Streets as Israel Seeks to Ease Restrictions” Haaretz (9 July 2018), available at: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-expected-to-lower-the-bar-for-obtaining-a-firearm-license-1.6247213; See legislation at Gov.il, available at: https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/Policies/firearm_licensing_criteria

[7] Josh Briener, “Thousands of Guns Could Flood Streets as Israel Seeks to Ease Restrictions” Haaretz (9 July 2018), available at: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-expected-to-lower-the-bar-for-obtaining-a-firearm-license-1.6247213

[7] Josh Briener, “Thousands of Guns Could Flood Streets as Israel Seeks to Ease Restrictions” Haaretz (9 July 2018), available at: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-expected-to-lower-the-bar-for-obtaining-a-firearm-license-1.6247213

[8] See for example: Al-Haq, “Continuing Impunity for Israeli Settlers: One Palestinian Killed, Property Vandalized in the West Bank”, 23 April 2018, available at: http://www.alhaq.org/documentation/weekly-focuses/1219-continuing-impunity-for-israeli-settlers-one-palestinian-killed-property-vandalized-in-the-west-bank

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