We condemn settler attacks in the West Bank

17 April 2024

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The rise in settler violence in the West Bank since October 7 is appalling and the UK must do more to stop these attacks from taking place.

ActionAid is demanding that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are held to account for acts of violence following a wave of attacks on Palestinian villages. On Friday a 14-year-old Israeli boy was reported missing and later found dead, and hundreds of settlers in the West Bank raided at least 17 Palestinian villages in response over the last few days, torching cars and houses. Armed settlers shot dead two Palestinians on Monday, according to reports.

Al-Mughayar village, located northeast of Ramallah, was one of the areas affected by violence. Amin Abu Alia, head of the al-Mughayar village council, told ActionAid the settler attack on the village on Friday, which left one dead and dozens injured, was the biggest and most violent incident his community had ever faced. He said settlers surrounded and stormed the village, raiding homes, setting fire to houses and cars, and stealing an estimated 70 sheep. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, settlers subsequently opened fire on one of its ambulances as it attempted to reach people wounded in the attack, while other vehicles were prevented from entering the village.

Mr Abu Alia said: “This attack is part of systematic incitement by settlers against Palestinians aiming to forcibly displace Palestinians of their land. We will stay in our lands, and we need to maintain our resilience as we do not have any other option.

“These are continuous attacks against residents and farmers and agricultural lands. Our farmers can‘t reach their lands due to roadblocks placed by settlers that restrict their movements. We could not pick our olives during last season.”

Since October 7, there has been a sharp surge in settler attacks in the West Bank resulting in unprecedented levels of violence against Palestinians. Prior to this latest spate of attacks, UNOCHA had recorded 727 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in total – 72 of which resulted in casualties, 578 in property damage, and 77 in both casualties and property damage. At least nine Palestinians had been killed by settlers since October 7, according to UNOCHA.

Under international humanitarian law, the Israeli forces - as the occupying power - are obligated to protect Palestinians civilians from all violence, including settler violence. Yet ActionAid is warning that the Israeli forces are not doing enough to prevent settler attacks from taking place nor protect Palestinians during attacks. A video shared by the Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din, filmed in Deir Dibwan on Saturday, appears to show nearby Israeli forces failing to intervene as settler set fire to a Palestinian car. According to UNOCHA, in nearly half of all recorded settler attacks since October 7, Israeli forces were either accompanying or reported to be supporting the attackers.

We call on Israel to recognise its legal obligations and uphold the rights and protections of the Palestinian people, which includes ensuring private property such as cars and homes are respected. It must hold all those responsible for violence and human rights abuses in the West Bank to account and ensure they are prosecuted under the law. Analysis by Yesh Din found that only three per cent of Israeli investigations into settler violence monitored by the group since 2005 have resulted in full or partial convictions.

It is clear that the escalation of violence in the West Bank has occurred in tandem with the crisis in Gaza, and as the risk of wider conflict in the region looms, there must be a permanent ceasefire immediately to protect civilians in Gaza, the West Bank and the wider area.

Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine said: “Palestinians in the West Bank have lived in terror of attacks from settlers for decades, but in the last six months the violence has intensified to an unprecedented level. Villages are all but abandoned as settlers repeatedly terrorise communities and commit horrendous human rights abuses with apparent impunity. On a daily basis, many Palestinians face intimidation and harassment from settlers.

“We are horrified by the deaths and injuries resulting from this most recent rampage of Palestinian villages. This cannot go on. Palestinians deserve to live free from fear. Settlers who have committed violence must be held to account, and the authorities must fulfil their obligations to protect Palestinians from harm.”

Ziad Issa, Head of Humanitarian Policy at ActionAid UK, said: “As David Cameron visits the West Bank today, at least 17 Palestinian villages are still reeling from despicable attacks from settlers which have left damage, destruction, injury and death in their wake. The rise in settler violence in the West Bank since October 7 is appalling and the UK must do more to stop these attacks from taking place.

“While the UK has imposed sanctions on a number of Israeli settlers responsible for violence and human rights abuses against Palestinians, these limited measures are not enough. The UK must exert pressure on the Israeli authorities to protect and uphold the rights of Palestinians and to effectively hold all those responsible for violence to account. The culture of impunity for violent settlers must end. As the crisis in Gaza continues and the risk of wider conflict in the region grows, the UK must do everything in its power to bring about a permanent and immediate ceasefire, including using every diplomatic lever available, such as ending arms sales to Israel and imposing sanctions.”


Ziad Issa and Riham Jafari are available as a spokespeople. Please contact the press office to arrange.