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Action Alert: Al-Haq, Al Mezan and PCHR Urge the International Community to Intervene as Israeli Forces and Settler Violence Intensifies Across the West Bank
16، Apr 2024

In the midst of Israel’s genocidal attacks in Gaza, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) urge the international community, private actors and businesses, to respond to the widespread violent attacks against Palestinians and their property across the West Bank. Violent Israeli military and settler attacks have been escalating in intensity and scale ––between 7 October 2023 and 15 April 2024, as of 12:00 pm, 435 Palestinians, including 112 children, have been killed by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF), eleven Palestinians, including three children, have been killed by settlers, five Palestinians have been killed by settlers or the IOF and one Palestinian has been killed by a settlement guard in the West Bank, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, according to Al-Haq’s documentation. The violence escalated significantly on 12 April 2023 after a 14-year-old Israeli settler went missing, whereby  violent Israeli settler mobs commenced raiding occupied villages in the West Bank. Al-Haq is currently conducting a field investigation into the settler attacks, arson and property destruction in the villages of Al-Mughayir, Abu Falah, and Beitin, northeast of Ramallah, Duma, southwest of Nablus, Qusra, south of Nablus and Beit Furik, east of Nablus in which at least two Palestinians were killed; Jihad Afeef Sudqi Abu-Aliyye, 25 and Omar Ahmad Abdul Ghani Hamed, 17, and dozens were injured.

According to Al-Haq’s initial documentation, under the watchful eye and protection of the IOF, a group of around 1500-2000 Israeli settlers, including armed settlers, raided and attacked Al-Mughayir village for some eight hours on 12 April 2024, and for around four hours the following day. During these attacks, Jihad Abu-Aliyye was killed, as he was shot in his head while protecting one of the homes targeted by settler attacks. When Jihad was shot, he was among a group of around 25-27 Palestinians on the rooftop of a Palestinian home, which was surrounded by around 400 Israeli settlers. For around 30 minutes, Jihad was left to bleed as other young Palestinians were unable to evacuate him, as attempts had been met with more shots from Israeli settlers. Despite shootings from Israeli settlers and physical assaults from the IOF, a group of Palestinians were finally able to carry and transfer Jihad to a Palestinian ambulance, which transferred him to he Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah city, where his death was announced.

During these two days, the Israeli settlers completely burned 14 homes, 13 livestock pens, a civil defence vehicle and three car garages, as well as partially burning 15 homes and four livestock pens in Al-Mughayir village. Furthermore, 60 vehicles were set ablaze. A total of some 76 Palestinians were injured, primarily by Israeli settlers, with 18 remaining hospitalised including three women and two children, at the time of writing. Of those, six Palestinians sustained serious injuries, with three currently in the intensive care unit. Israeli settlers further stole 145 sheep, and killed 36 others.

On 13 April 2024, at around 8:30 pm, a group of around 40-50 Israeli settlers attacked, once again, the village of Beitin. In response, Palestinian youths rushed to repel the settlers’ attack, especially since there had been arson and vandalism by settlers earlier in the morning at the eastern entrance of the village. According to Al-Haq’s initial documentation, Omar Hamed, a highschool senior and the youngest of his siblings, seemed to be among the first to respond to Palestinian distress calls and arrived at the scene of the attack. However, upon his arrival and exiting the vehicle with the intention of deterring the attacking settlers, he was shot in the head. Following his injury, he was transported by a civilian vehicle to the Ein Yabrud centre, from where he was subsequently transferred to the Palestinian Medical Complex. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, his death was announced shortly after his arrival at the hospital.

As part of these rampages, Israeli settlers, along with the IOF, have closed off main roads and entrances to villages, and imposed movement restrictions on military checkpoints. Armed and backed by the IOF, Israeli settlers gathered and organised themselves and threatened to “set Samaria [northern West Bank] up in flames should the teenage boy not be found”, as disseminated over their social media.

On 13 April 2024, Israeli settlers have burned and thrown stones at dozens of vehicles and homes in Duma, Qusra and As-Sawiya villages, south and southeast Nablus city. During their attacks, Israeli settlers further burned 300 olive trees and livestock sheds, and killed 40 sheep and more than 10,000 chickens.  Specifically, at around 12:00 pm, hundreds of Israeli settlers, accompanied by the IOF, attacked Duma village, firing live ammunition disproportionately as well as directly at Palestinian residents, stone throwing and burning several vehicles and houses. As a result, five Palestinians were injured by use of live ammunition, knives, and beatings, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS). The IOF obstructed the passage of PCRS ambulances into Duma, which continued to be denied access for approximately three hours. In Duma also, the IOF and settlers broke into and searched several houses, captured and questioned a number of residents, and completely burned five homes while partially burning seven others.

While in Qusra village, at around 4:10 pm of the same day, around 150 Israeli settlers accompanied by the IOF, as reported by Qusra Municipality, attacked the village, fired live ammunition, burned vehicles, houses, and commercial stores, injuring four Palestinians with stones, and a number of suffocation cases as a result. The IOF have also attacked and beaten a Palestinian woman. According to Qusra Municipality, these attacks included damage to the electricity network as a result of fired bullets, and burning of four electricity poles. Furthermore, according to Al-Haq’s documentation, Israeli settlers burned five homes and apartments during their attack on Qusra village. These latest attacks have resulted in the forcible displacement of five families from Duma and another five families from Qusra, whose homes have been rendered completely uninhabitable due to these acts of arson. Additionally, these residents suffer great psychological harm as they watch their homes and property being burned before their eyes, and lacking any sense of security. 

These events represent a clear spike in the degree and intensity of violence being experienced by Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), and should provide the impetus for the international community to respond with decisive and meaningful actions geared towards ending Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise and the impunity enjoyed by all those responsible for the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements and for violence perpetrated by illegally transferred inIsraeli settlers. While the United Kingdom, United States, and several European states have imposed sanctions against a handful of low-level Israeli settlers for their violence and attacks against Palestinians, these sanctions have not targeted in any way the actual policy makers with responsibility for the illegal acts. Over the decades, Israeli high-level government and army officials and the Israeli judiciary have created an environment in which settler violence can grow unabated.

Settler attacks have also been called out by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim A. A. Khan KC, who has expressed extreme concern “with the spike, the increase, in the number of reported incidents of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank”, and announced that these attacks will be investigated. With international efforts still falling short from addressing the root causes of settler violence, our organisations urge the international community to address settler violence as a matter of policy and not mere sporadic incidents of attacks, and pay proper attention to the causal link between the heinous acts committed against various communities across the West Bank and the high-level government officials responsible for transferring Israeli settlers and establishing and maintaining colonial settlements, as well as creating a culture of impunity that further encourages illegal incursions on Palestinian land.

Like the ongoing assault on Gaza, the current escalation in the West Bank does not take place in a vacuum. Between 1 January and 31 October 2023, there were at least 1,038 incidents of settler violence. Since 7 October 2023, settler attacks have more than doubled from an average of three to eight incidents a day. Similarly, the rate of Palestinians displaced has more than doubled –– an increase of nearly 119 percent –– as 280 Palestinians are now being displaced on average every month due to demolitions. This is a direct result of Israeli settlement expansion, which is at its highest level since UN monitoring began in 2017, and Israel’s illegal designation of a record amount of West Bank land as state-owned.

More than 700,000 settlers –– 10 percent of Israel’s nearly 7 million population –– now live in 150 settlements and 128 outposts dotting the occupied West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem. While settlements are authorised by the Israeli government, Israel classifies outposts as illegal  –– yet, their presence and activities are allowed by the IOF and police forces and their formation are supported by Israel, including through retroactive regularisation. Both are illegal under international law.[1]

Article 49 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention) states that the “[t]he Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly,[2] and UN Security Council,[3] have expressly recognised and reaffirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements in the OPT and the applicability of the aforementioned legal framework due to Israel’s status as an Occupying Power. Such transfers amount to a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the ICC, to which Palestine is a State Party.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, asserted in a recent report to the UN Human Rights Council that “the policies of the current Israeli Government appear aligned, to an unprecedented extent, with the goals of the Israeli settler movement to expand long-term control over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to steadily integrate this occupied territory into the State of Israel.” On the basis of the existence of this state policy, the ensuing forcible displacement of Palestinians constitutes the crimes against humanity of forcible transfer, persecution, and apartheid pursuant to Articles 7(1)(d), (h), and (j) of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Recommendations for immediate action

Settler violence, including the attacks which took place throughout Friday and Saturday, are a direct result of Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime which not only allows, but encourages, dispossessing indigenous Palestinians of their land. The total lack of accountability and absence of any judicial system capable of providing fair, impartial, and independent rulings has fortified the resolve of illegal settlers to continue carrying out violent, destructive attacks which strip Palestinians of both their life and livelihood. 

Accordingly, Al-Haq, Al Mezan and PCHR:

·        Urge Third States to impose sanctions (including the freezing of all assets within the control of the relevant State) against figures including Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant, and Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, amongst others, whose policies and plans provide for the expansion of settlements and appropriation of Palestinian land;

·        Call on Third States to prohibit the import of illegal settlement goods and services into their territories, and to prohibit the procurement of goods from and investments in companies listed on the UN Database;

·        Call on corporations and financial institutions, in line with their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to divest and disengage from Israel’s illegal colonial settlement enterprise;

·        Calls on States to suspend military assistance and apply a two-way arms embargo on Israel, as failure to do so opens up the possibility of being considered as complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;

·        Urge Third States to recognise that Israel’s judicial system as part and parcel of Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime and provide full support to the work of the ICC, and the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and demand more action on their part in response to the atrocities being committed on a daily basis in both the West Bank and Gaza. In particular, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC must be assisted in its investigative efforts so as to be able to issue arrest warrants without further delay; and

·        Call on the international community –– represented by the United Nations –– to set aside its geopolitical and economic interests in order to address the root causes of the Palestinian plight, ending the occupation and dismantling Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime; and thereby ensuring respect to the collective right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

[1] For some examples of the stance of various States on the matter, see International Court of Justice, Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, Request for Advisory Opinion (2024), available at:

[2] See United Nations General Assembly Resolution 36/226 A (1982), UN Doc A/RES/36/226 A (17 December 1982); United Nations General Assembly Resolution 37/123 (1982), UN Doc A/RES/37/123 (16 December 1982); United Nations General Assembly Resolution 56/83 (2001), UN Doc A/RES/56/83 (12 December 2001); United Nations General Assembly Resolution 58/89 (2003), UN Doc A/RES/58/89 (9 December 2003); United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/19 (2009), UN Doc A/RES/64/19 (2 December 2009).

[3] See United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 (1979), UN Doc S/RES/446 (22 March 1979); United Nations Security Council Resolution 452 (1979), UN Doc S/RES/452 (20 July 1979); United Nations Security Council Resolution 465 (1980), UN Doc S/RES/465 (1 March 1980); United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 (1980), UN Doc S/RES/478 (20 August 1980).