In an article published on Saturday, October 21, the French newspaper Le Monde headlined “The war between Israel and Hamas: thanks to the war, Israeli settlers accelerate the depopulation of the hills of the West Bank.” Under the mild euphemism of “depopulation,” the newspaper describes ethnic cleansing operations carried out by ultra-nationalist Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank.
Although these practices are systematic in the region (remember the attack on Huwara eight months ago when more than 400 settlers participated in an attack against the Palestinian population, leaving one dead and several hundred injured and burning dozens of cars and houses) have multiplied in recent days, taking as a pretext the collective punishment inflicted on the Palestinians for Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip and taking advantage of the fact that the media focuses on what is happening in that area.
The number of Palestinians killed by these attacks has now reached 90, including many children, as well as almost 1,300 wounded. At least two villages, Al-Qanub and Wadi Al-Sik, were also reportedly left completely empty, while many others were raided by armed militias of Jewish settlers, generally supported by Israeli Army forces.
At the same time, the movements of Palestinians are increasingly hindered, as military checkpoints, which have existed since long before October 7, have multiplied even more and are now completely impassable, locking in the Palestinian population. in the West Bank in a multitude of separate enclaves harassed by settler militias. Trying to pass through these checkpoints can be fatal.
On Thursday, October 12, for example, Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Yabrud opened fire on a vehicle carrying a Palestinian family, killing Randa Abdullah Abdul Aziz Ajaj and seriously wounding his son, Ismail Ajaj. As a Qaryut resident explained to +972 mag. : “Right now we live in a state of siege. Most villages in the West Bank are surrounded by mounds of earth that are impossible to get out of,” on top of which “there are settlers everywhere.” Every time we approach a house near a colony, they shoot at us. They are taking advantage of the situation in Gaza to take revenge in the West Bank. Because today no one is interested in the West Bank”
According to Yesh Din of Volunteers for Human Rights, 18 villages have been attacked since October 7, while many far-right media outlets have encouraged Israeli settlers to “conquer the villages near [sus] homes” to supposedly take revenge for the Hamas attack. As previously stated, 51 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since Saturday, while another 64 West Bankers are believed to have died between October 7 and 18.
This multiplication of attacks occurs with the more or less official support of the Israeli government. In fact, this last Sunday it bombed a mosque in Jenin, killing two people. At the same time, National Security Minister Ben Gvir has distributed thousands of weapons, including assault rifles, to “civil security units” made up of settlers in recent days. so they can “defend themselves.” The Army, however, does not intervene to prevent settler attacks, in which it participates more frequently.
+972 magazine reports that “on Wednesday, October 11, in the village of Qusra, near Nablus, three Palestinians – Moa’th Odeh, Musab Abu Rida and Obida Abu Sarur – were shot dead, while a 6-year-old girl was wounded in the upper part of the body. It is unknown who opened fire on them. The attack began with hooded settlers shooting at houses in the village, according to three eyewitnesses and medical personnel who treated the wounded at the scene. Video footage show six masked men, armed with pistols and M-16 rifles, opening fire inside the village. Later that day, according to eyewitnesses, another resident, Hassan Abu Sarur, 13, was also shot dead when the “Soldiers entered the village after the settlers had retreated.”
The Israeli-Palestinian media also reported the words of Ahmed, a resident of Qusra, who witnessed the attack, “My cousin was shot in the head, my brother was shot right at the entrance of his house. Then the soldiers took the [grabadora de video digital] who recorded everything; An hour after the event they came and confiscated the cameras. I’m sure they did it to erase the evidence.” Finally, according to +972 magazine, “Qusra residents said that a small number of soldiers had accompanied the settlers throughout the attack. When the villagers threw stones at the settlers to force them to retreat, the soldiers supported the settlers with live fire, according to residents.”
In fact, this support from the Israeli government to the ultra-nationalist Zionist militias is not very surprising: within the Israeli government coalition and together with the right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we find, among others, Jewish Force, a supremacist party. Jewish, who advocates the creation of an “ethnically pure” State of Israel. The leader of this party is precisely Itamar Ben-Gvir, Minister of National Security since 2022 and on his initiative the order was given to the police to arm the Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
This increase in attacks is part of a radicalization of Israeli settlers and ultra-Zionists in recent years, encouraged by the Government. These massacres, taking place far from Gaza and Hamas, shed a harsh light on the situation in Palestine and on the violence of the colonial situation in the region. At a time when the Hamas attack serves as a pretext to oppose “terrorism” and the supposed defense of “democracy,” the West Bank continues to be the scene of ultraviolent colonization.