Bearing Witness

Settler Violence

Since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, the incidence of settler attacks perpetrated against Palestinians has been steadily on the rise. In 2007, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 76 cases of settler violence resulting in death or injury to Palestinians, a 17 per cent increase over 2006. Over the first four months (January-April) of 2008 alone, OCHA has documented 42 cases of Palestinians killed or injured as a result of settler violence. Included among these cases are one child fatality and five injuries. Sadly, Palestinian children are often the victims of violence at the hands of Israeli settlers. Reports from the 1612 Working Group1 indicate that from May 2007 to March 2008, two children were killed and 31 injured as a result of settler attacks. Of these attacks, one child was killed and five injured in hit-and-run incidents; one child killed and one injured in shooting incidents; and 24 were injured in physical assaults.

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the Israeli army and police have an undeclared policy of leniency and compromise toward settlers who perpetrate acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. The army makes little attempt to prevent settler violence, often providing cover and protection for the very settlers who commit these crimes. Israeli authorities often fail to investigate acts of settler violence or bring perpetrators to justice. When cases actually are investigated, they often do not result in indictment or strong penalties. B’Tselem reports that an examination of the human rights organisation Yesh Din reveals that some 90 per cent of investigations opened by the police in 2005 regarding settlers who injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property were closed without an indictment being filed.

In cases where settlers are actually prosecuted for crimes committed in the occupied territory, Israel’s Emergency Regulations Law 5727 of 1967 guarantees they are tried before the civil courts and in accordance with Israeli laws. Despite the fact that settlers are living in the occupied Palestinian territory, they are not subject to the same military laws and the military court system as the Palestinians living under occupation. By being subject to the Israeli judicial system, settlers enjoy legal protections and guarantees that are routinely denied to Palestinians in the occupied territory.

* The information in this post was taken from 

November 19, 2008 - Posted by | Media | , , ,

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