The West Bank is witnessing a disturbing rise in violence and intimidation against Palestinians, according to the latest findings from the UN’s humanitarian branch. Since early October, the frequency of settler attacks has more than doubled, with an average of seven incidents occurring daily. These attacks have not only led to physical injuries but have also seen substantial property damage, including the destruction of homes, vehicles, and agricultural resources.
The OCHA has documented a total of 171 settler attacks that have resulted in 26 casualty incidents and significant damage to 115 Palestinian properties. Beyond the reported figures, countless acts of harassment and intimidation go unrecorded, further pressuring Palestinians to abandon their lands.
Israeli settlers, emboldened by the occupation since 1967, have increasingly encroached upon West Bank territories, undermining the viability of a two-state solution. The situation is further aggravated by heightened access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities, particularly in proximity to Israeli settlements and the “Seam Zone” — areas isolated by Israel’s barrier in the West Bank.
These restrictions have had a profound impact on the daily lives of Palestinians, limiting access to essential services and livelihoods. In some instances, settlers have blocked roads to Palestinian communities and damaged vital water resources, upon which many herding communities depend.
The intensification of movement restrictions has also forced a halt to humanitarian assistance services, including health and education, further deepening the crisis. The OCHA has expressed concern over the use of firearms by settlers to threaten Palestinians, with a significant number of incidents involving armed intimidation or actual gunfire.
In one harrowing episode, a herding community in the northern West Bank was forcibly displaced after settlers threatened them with firearms. The OCHA has also noted instances where Israeli security forces have either supported or did not intervene in such attacks.
The violence has led to fatal confrontations, with several Palestinians killed by settlers or in clashes with Israeli forces. The destruction wrought by these incidents is extensive, with residential and agricultural structures damaged or destroyed, along with hundreds of trees and saplings.
The OCHA’s report underscores the urgent need for measures to protect Palestinian communities and safeguard their rights, as the cycle of violence continues to disrupt any progress towards peace and stability in the region.