RAMALLAH: Attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian citizens continue to take place in different parts of the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces have so far failed to prevent the spate of attacks, even after IDF personnel arrive at the scene of assaults in progress.
The most important of these attacks occurred in Huwara, south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, when six Palestinians, five from one family including children, were injured on Monday evening during an attack by settlers.
About 300 attacks against Huwara, Burin, and Asira Al-Qibliya, south of Nablus, have been reported since Feb. 26, which have resulted in the death of one citizen, injuries to more than 350 others, and the burning and destruction of dozens of homes and vehicles, while the IDF closed the town for a week.
Video footage of one attack showed settlers attacking Palestinians with axes and stones. Several people were wounded, some of them seriously. In other videos from the area, IDF soldiers were filmed apparently dancing with settlers instead of stopping or apprehending them.
On Tuesday, settlers assaulted an elderly man while ploughing his land in Urif, south of Nablus.
The official in charge of the settlement file in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said that Yitzhar settlers attacked the elderly Daoud Al-Safadi, in the eastern region of the town, after which he was then arrested by the IDF, which intervened to protect the settlers.
Daghlas added that other residents confronted the settlers, who attacked their houses amidst heavy gunfire and tear gas canisters.
About 100 settlers stormed the town of Kifl Haris, north of Salfit, under the protection of the the IDF, chanting racist slogans.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the settler attacks on Huwara, suggesting the IDF was in league with those attacking the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Palestinian experts told Arab News that if the settler violence continues it could lead to a third intifada.
Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef told Arab News that what is happening is a distribution of roles between the IDF and settlers to attack the Palestinians in response to the calls of extremist government ministers in the Israeli government, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has controversially called for the eradication Huwara.
“When it comes to arming the settlers with tens of thousands of weapons and giving them the green light to attack the Palestinians and storm Al-Aqsa Mosque on their religious holidays, all of this falls within the context of an escalation of violence against the Palestinians, their sanctities and property, which will drag the region into a religious war and a third intifada,” Abu Yousef told Arab News.
He added that the Palestinians have no choice but to defend their dignity, land, homes, and sanctities, whatever the cost.
Younis Arar, head of the Anti-Settlement and Wall Commission’s international relations unit, told Arab News that high-ranking IDF officers operating in the West Bank are settlers, and the IDF has no orders to prevent settler attacks against Palestinians and their property.
“The Palestinians have no solution but to protect themselves by themselves because the world will only give us statements of condemnation, and this will not benefit us and will not stop the upcoming attacks,” Arar told Arab News.
The Palestinians have formed committees of young volunteers to alert the residents of villages and towns of impending settlers attacks, so far with only limited success.
The Palestinian Authority stressed that the most recent attack in Huwara on Monday reinforced what the PA leadership has consistently called for — that the international community commit to practical measures to ensure that the Israeli government is compelled to stop such illegal activities.