Institutionalised Impunity: Israel’s Failure to Combat Settler Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank against members of the Palestinian population and their property are an extensive, long-term, and worsening phenomenon. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by over 144 percent in 2011, compared to 2009, with an average of eight incidents per week, and over 400 incidents throughout the year. Al-Haq has documented a significant increase in incidents of settler violence against the Palestinian population of the West Bank since 2011. In 2013, the report of the United Nations International Fact-Finding Mission on Settlements highlighted the failure of the Israeli authorities to enforce the law by investigating such incidents and taking measures against their perpetrators. The Fact-Finding Mission came to the "clear conclusion that there is institutionalised discrimination against the Palestinian people when it comes to addressing violence."

Acts of settler violence are intended, organised, and publicly represented to influence the political decisions of Israeli State authorities. For settlers, some acts of violence facilitate the transfer of Palestinians off their land to make way for the construction of settlements, in the expectation that the Israeli authorities will eventually formally recognise the settlement's establishment or expansion. Other acts of settler violence are intended to exert a toll on the Israeli government for any measure that negatively affects settler interests, as a form of retaliation against restrictions on settlement construction or evacuations of settlements. Settler groups, who often refer to such acts of violence as 'Price Tag' attacks, have mobilised a public campaign that advocates for the use of physical violence against the Palestinian civilian population and their property.

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