Terror attacks by Israeli settler militias on the rise

Settlers attack a house in Sebastia town, north of Nablus

Israeli occupation forces attacked dozens of Palestinians taking part on Friday in an anti-colonisation protest in the village of Umm Safa, to the north of Ramallah.

Israeli occupation soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the protesters as they rallied following the weekly Friday prayer in the village in protest of attempts by Israeli settlers to take over large tracts of Palestinian-owned land in the village.

At least one protester was hit by a gas canister in his foot, while many others suffocated from gas inhalation.

Late last month, several houses and vehicles were set on fire in attacks carried out by state-backed Israeli settler militias in Umm Safa.

The pogrom saw scores of Israeli settlers, some of them armed with rifles and guarded by army and Border Guards Police, storm the village and fire indiscriminately at everything they came across, including homes and vehicles, setting several houses and cars on fire.

Attacks and acts of terrorism against Palestinians by Israeli settler militias have seen a terrible rise across the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, since last month with a green light from the far-right Israeli government.

Israeli occupation forces arrested seven Palestinians last Thursday night during raids into the occupied West Bank provinces of Hebron and Ramallah, according to local and Palestinian security sources.

In Hebron province, south of the territory, Israeli occupation army stormed the towns of Al-Shuyukh, Dura, Ad-Dhahiriya, Al-Fawwar Refugee Camp and Hebron City, where they arrested six Palestinians after raiding their homes.

In Ramallah province, an Israeli army force broke into the town of Ni’lin and arrested a Palestinian young man after raiding and searching his home.

Almost on a daily basis, Israeli occupation forces carry out raids targeting populated Palestinian communities for arrests or searches. The practice, mostly carried out at night-time, has become a routine under the Israeli military regime.

A group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Karnie Shomron attacked the Palestinian Bedouin community of Arab al-Kholi, and pelted residents with stones, injuring four Palestinians. The settlers also set a stall on fire in the community.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the wounded Palestinians were admitted to the Qalqilya Public Hospital as a result of the assault.

It said two Palestinians were in critical condition as they had suffered fractures in the skull and lacerations in the face.

More than 700,000 Israelis live in over 279 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

While all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, the occupying regime has stepped up settlement expansion in blatant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates warned on Friday of an Israeli plan to take over Palestinian archaeological sites, and called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to assume its responsibilities in this regard.

In a press statement, the Foreign Ministry condemned in the strongest terms the Israeli raid on Thursday night into the archaeological town of Sebastia, saying the Israeli military and settler militias are aiming to take control of the Roman-era archaeological site in the town.

‘This is an attack that falls within a plan to control Palestinian archaeological sites throughout the West Bank and to impose Israeli control over them and annex them, as stated in the Hebrew media, which confirmed that the Israeli government is about to allocate hundreds of millions of shekels for this purpose,’ said the Foreign Ministry.

The Ministry pointed out that the implementation of this plan is part of Israel’s declared and undeclared gradual annexation of the occupied West Bank, calling on the international community and UNESCO in particular to assume their responsibilities in protecting Palestinian archaeological and heritage sites.

As many as 206 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the beginning of this year, figures gleaned by a Palestinian data centre have shown.

The Palestinian Information centre news agency cited the ‘Mu’ti’ data centre as offering the data last Wednesday.

Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank took the brunt of the Israeli brutality, according to figures provided by the centre, which showed that Israeli forces had slain as many as 64 Palestinians in the city during the period.

At least 13 of the fatalities were caused over a fortnight ago, when Israel launched a military campaign against the city, mobilising upwards of 1,000 troops as a means of supposedly damaging the resistance ‘infrastructure’ there.

Offering more information, the data centre revealed that 46 of the Palestinians had died during the seven months that have passed since the start of the year in Nablus, which is likewise located in the northern West Bank, while 37 others died in the nearby Israeli-blockaded Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip.

Mu’ti underlined that 11 Palestinian citizens had been killed in the West Bank city of Ramallah and 10 others in al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern part of the Palestinian territory, while eight had died in the holy occupied city of al-Quds as a result of Israeli aggression.

The report concluded that six Palestinians had been killed in Tulkarem, four in Qalqilya and Bethlehem, and two in Tubas and Salfit – cities that are scattered throughout the West Bank – adding that deadly Israeli violence had also claimed three lives in the 1948-present occupied territories.

The regime has significantly escalated its aggression against Palestinians under its new far-right cabinet that is led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The anti-settlement Organisation Peace Now says the far-right cabinet of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has advanced a record number of illegal units in settlements in the occupied West Bank in the first six months of the current year.

In a statement last Thursday, the Israeli human rights group said that the Tel Aviv regime has advanced 12,855 settler housing units across the West Bank since January, and the number is the highest figure that it has recorded since it started tracking such activity in 2012.

‘In the past six months, the only sector that Israel has vigorously promoted is the settlement enterprise,’ it said in a statement.

The statement came on the same day that four Palestinians sustained injuries tonight, two of them seriously, in an attack by extremist Israeli settlers near the town of Kafr Thulth, located 28 kilometres (17 miles) south of Tulkarm.