A group of extremist settlers set fire to a Palestinian home near Nablus, Monday night, Palestinian media sources reported.According to the Ma’an News Agency, the groups threw Molotov cocktails at houses in Huwara village, near Nablus, which set fire to one home that belongs to a resident identified as Rabee’ Taha.
Although firefighters managed to control the blaze, two children were inside sleeping and had to be hospitalized. Palestinian cars around Nablus were also attacked, according to officials.
In a separate incident, clashes erupted in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, on Monday when settlers attempted to enter the village. Locals burnt tires in an attempt to prevent them entering. Eventually the army intervened, prompting the settlers to return to their homes.
Settlers have recently been incensed by the demolition of small numbers of buildings in settlement outposts near Nablus. Since 2008, many have pursued a ‘price tag’ policy whereby local Palestinian communities ‘pay a price’ for any attempt by the army to reign in expanding outposts. Often the ‘price’ takes the form of graffiti or damage to property, although sometimes it involves greater levels of violence.
It should be noted, in contrast, that Palestinian homes are routinely demolished by the Israeli military, in contravention of international law under article 53 of the 4th Geneva Convention. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), over 24 000 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 1967.
There are presently widespread concerns both within the Palestinian community and NGOs working the West Bank about a recent rise in settler violence. This problem is compounded by a lack of law enforcement against the settlers.
Israeli NGO Yesh-Din claims that 91% of the 642 investigations that it is monitoring are closed without any indictment filed against the defendant. The situation is, in fact, even worse than this because only a small proportion of complaints are ever taken to the authorities: most Palestinians are wary about dealing with the Israeli police.
If settlers are charged then the case is dealt with in Israeli courts according to civilian law, which provides a significant number of safeguards and legal protection. Palestinians live under Israeli military rule and as a result do not enjoy the same legal protection that they would have under civilian rule. This ‘dual system of law’ is of concern to Israeli human rights group, BT’selem.
All settlements are illegal under international law, although the US recently vetoed a resolution condemning them in the UN Security Council.