Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pull the Trigger: Settlerĺs demand easing rules of engagement in oPt


By Sam Gilbert - May 27, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Settlers] [settler violence]

Settlers protesting in the West Bank. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.

 
Settlers in the West Bank are applying pressure to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in hopes of easing the rules of engagements that restrict Israeli troops from firing on Palestinians, according to the  Israeli newspaper Haaretz.  Settlers, backed by right wing politicians, are insisting that the IDF change its rules of engagement and treat stone throwing the same as live fire. This move is said to have come in response to the April 2013 murder of Yitshar settler and resident, Eviatar Borovsky, as well as a reported increase in incidents of stone throwing and destruction of settler property by Palestinians.  Settler marches were planned on Friday around the West Bank to apply pressure on the IDF to restore “deterrence measures” and mend the “deteriorating security situation in Judea and Samaria,” according to Israel’s Arutz Sheva News.  
 
There are nearly 500,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  These settlers are considered illegal under international law in direct violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the occupying power from transferring parts of its own population into the territory it is occupying (1).  The Israeli state continues to subsidize and expand the settlement enterprise, building infrastructure, providing economic incentives to encourage Jewish Migrants to move into West Bank, supporting public services and development projects and seizing Palestinian land (1).  These settlements are widely considered the single largest obstacle to peace in the region and tensions between Palestinians and Israeli’s in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) have continued to rise. 
 
Levels of Violence
 
If the Israeli army capitulates to settlers demands it would ease the rules of engagement, giving more freedom for soldiers to use live fire against Palestinians. The notion that the IDF has been too docile in the oPt is troubling when one considers that 11 Palestinians under the age of 19 have been killed in the past 12 months by Israeli forces, according to Haaretz.  A cursory glance at the incidence of violence between settlers and Palestinians highlights a more dynamic picture of what is taking place in the occupied territories.  
 
According to the 2013 Settler Violence Briefing by the EAPPI, in 2102 there were 353 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians and their property compared to 49 such attacks perpetrated against settlers by Palestinians (ration of 7 to 1). UN statistics show that in incidents related to settlements (including demonstrations) some 1300 Palestinians were injured and one killed by IDF forces during the same time period. 
 
Under international humanitarian law, Israel, as the occupying power, is required to protect and prevent attacks against civilians and their property, and to ensure that all violent acts are investigated in a thorough, impartial and independent manner (2).  According to UN statistics from 2012 Israeli authorities repeatedly fail to enforce the rule of law in response to settler violence, even requiring Palestinians to enter into settlements to lodge their complaints (3).  Only 10% of the investigations conducted by Israeli police into incidents of settler violence in 2012 have resulted in indictments, this according to EAPPI (3).
 
 
According to B’Tselem, since 2000 some 215 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank alone, compared to 46 Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians.  However, this number does not take into account the some 1839 Palestinians, mostly civilians, that have been killed by the IDF in the West Bank in the same 12-year span. 
 
The reactionary response by the Israeli Right and the settler population to incidents of Palestinian violence fails to see how the very nature of the occupation and settlements constitute a form of structural violence perpetrated against the Palestinian people. According to the UN, the root of these violent acts between both populations is directly related to Israel’s decades long policy of illegally facilitating its settlement enterprise in the oPt, thereby denying Palestinians the right of self-determination. As long as this process continues, violence will likely be an enduring component of life under occupation.    
 
 
 
 
End Notes
 
1) “International Fact Finding Mission of Israeli Settlements in Occupied Territories.”  Human Rights Council ,2012.  
2) “U.N Factsheet:  Israeli Settler Violence in the West Bank.”  United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Nov, 2011.   
http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_settler_violence_FactSheet_October_2011_english.pdf
3) “EEAPPI Factsheet: Settler Violence Briefing.”  Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.  EAPPI Factsheet 2013, No. 1.  www.eappi.org 

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