Israeli settlers attacked, on Saturday, Palestinian farmers in the village of Qasra, to the south of Nablus, whereas the Israeli army raided and searched several Palestinian homes, setting up military checkpoints in the Hebron district, according to a local activist.WAFA correspondence reports that Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the West Bank, said that settlers attacked farmers, provoking the village locals and voluntarily guard committees – formed to protect locals against settlers’ attacks – who clashed with the settlers and managed to fend off the attack.
Witnesses reported, meanwhile, that despite the settler attack, Israeli forces, who arrived at the scene of the clashes, proceeded to fire live ammunition, tear gas canisters, and stun grenades towards the locals, while exerting no effort to apprehend any of the settlers. However, no injuries were reported.
Later on Saturday, other settlers, protected by Israeli soldiers, attacked Palestinian locals in another area in the village of Qasra, leading to clashes. Forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and stun grenades at locals, causing many to suffocate due to tear gas inhalation.
In many cases of settler attacks against Palestinians, forces offer protection to settlers and turn a blind eye to attacks committed against locals.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, estimated the settler population in the West Bank at around 531,000. It said, “In late 2012 the population of the West Bank settlements was 341,400; in late 2011 there were 190,423 individuals living in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.”
Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.
“The existence of settlements leads to violations of many of the human rights of Palestinians, including the rights to property, equality, an adequate standard of living and freedom of movement. In addition, the radical changes Israel has made to the map of the West Bank preclude any real possibility of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state as part of the fulfillment of the right to self-determination,” said B’Tselem.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that, “The failure to respect international law, along with the lack of adequate law enforcement vis-à- vis settler violence and takeover of land has led to a state of impunity, which encourages further violence and undermines the physical security and livelihoods of Palestinians.”
In a different report published in 2012, OCHA stated: “Over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment.
“The Israeli authorities repeatedly fail to enforce the rule of law in response to Israeli settlers’ acts of violence against Palestinians. Israeli forces often fail to stop attacks and follow-up afterwards is inadequate or poorly conducted. Measures of the current system, including requiring Palestinians to file complaints at police stations located inside Israeli settlements, actively work against the rule of law by discouraging Palestinians from filing complaints.”
In the meantime, Israeli forces raided and searched several homes in Hebron’s town of Beit Ummar, tampering with their contents, after forcing locals to stay in one room in their homes.
Forces further set up several military checkpoints in various neighborhoods in the Hebron district, including at the entrance of the town of Sair, and Halhoul, where they proceeded to stop and search Palestinian registered cars, checking passengers identity cards, and causing a traffic jam.