Israeli settlers avenge boy, 14

Palestinians stand among rubble following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm. Picture: Reuters

Palestinians stand among rubble following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm. Picture: Reuters

Published Apr 22, 2024


The Israeli settlers who rampaged through the West Bank village of al-Mughayyer on April 12 came in greater numbers and carried more weapons than during any of the previous raids on the Palestinian community, residents said.

Days later, torched homes and cars still bear testament to the attack, which residents said lasted several hours and that they said Israeli soldiers did nothing to stop.

With few means to defend themselves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they fear more such assaults on the village.

“We have stones and they have weapons, and the army supports the settlers,” said Abdullatif Abu Alia, whose house came under attack. His roof was spattered with the blood of Palestinians wounded as they tried to repel the attackers with rocks. One of them, his relative Jihad Abu Alia, was shot and killed, he said.

“Of course, the aim is to force displacement,” he added.

Al-Mughayyer was one of several Palestinian villages raided by settlers over several days beginning April 12, an escalation that began after a 14-year-old Israeli went missing. His body was discovered not far from al-Mughayyer the following day. Israel said he was killed in a terrorist attack.

Violence in the West Bank, seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, was already surging before the Gaza war began in October – fuelling further bloodshed in the territory.

Settler violence is a source of growing concern among Israel’s Western allies. A number of countries, including the US, have imposed sanctions on violent settlers and urged Israel to do more to stop the violence.

Washington imposed sanctions on Friday on an ally of Israel’s far-right national security minister and two entities that raised money for Israeli men accused of settler violence.

The Israeli military said confrontations had spread in the area as a result of the teenager’s killing, and included “exchanges of gunfire, mutual stone throwing and property arson in which Israeli and Palestinian civilians were injured”.

Asked about residents’ accusations that soldiers had done nothing to stop the al-Mughayyer attack, the military said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and security forces operated with the aim of protecting “the property and lives of all citizens and dispersing the confrontations”.

Ameen Abu Alia, the head of al-Mughayyer’s municipal council, said 45 Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds in the attack, which began after hundreds of settlers had congregated on a road near the village.

Israeli troops arrived shortly before it started, setting up road blocks and a cordon which left houses on the village outskirts cut off from its centre, meaning villagers could not go to aid those who were under attack, he said, adding that the soldiers also prevented ambulances from reaching the area to treat wounded people.

The Israeli military said ambulances “were delayed for a security check and then they were given the authorisation to continue”.

Abu Alia, the municipal council head, accused the Israeli army of providing security for the settler raid, which the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said had been “accompanied by Israeli forces”.

Complaints about soldiers’ behaviour that was not in accordance with orders will be examined, the Israeli military said.

Israel has settled the West Bank extensively since 1967, viewing it as the biblical Judea and Samaria and critical to Israel’s security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promotion of settlement growth has drawn US criticism.

The settlements have eaten up West Bank land where Palestinians have long aimed to establish an independent state that would also include the Gaza Strip and have East Jerusalem as its capital.

His home torched in the attack, Shehadah Abu Rasheed has pitched a tent to provide temporary shelter.

Inside, the walls of the house were charred black. Abu Rasheed said his wife was hit by a settler and one of his four children lightly wounded by gunfire.

The settlers also torched a fire truck sent to al-Mughayyer by the Palestinian civil defence service during the attack, the civil defence said.

Its charred remains were being loaded onto a truck last week OCHA reported that the settlers fully burnt 21 houses in al-Mughayyer, displacing 86 Palestinians, and that 32 vehicles were damaged and some 220 sheep were killed or stolen.

Cape Times