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EU: Israel must take measures to protect Palestinians against settler violence

Israeli soldiers stand by as masked settlers throw stones at Palestinian protesters (unseen) near the Palestinian village of Turmusaya north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union has called on Israel to take necessary measures to protect Palestinians and their property, voicing its deep concern about the rising violence of extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“Under international humanitarian law, Israeli authorities must take all necessary measures to protect Palestinians and their property against settler violence,” the EU Delegation to the Pedestrians said.

The remarks come in the wake of a settler attack in in the southern West Bank. The delegation said it was “concerned about the recent violence by settlers in the village of at-Tuwani village south of al-Kahlil (Hebron) hills carried out against Palestinian residents and human right defenders.”

On April 4, two activists from an Israeli advocacy group were accompanying a Palestinian shepherd and his flock of sheep on private Palestinian land when more than a dozen settlers started harassing and threatening them. 

“This is entirely unacceptable,” the EU said. “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against human rights violations and fundamental freedoms.”

Settler violence is rampant in the occupied Palestinian territories. The acts of violence and vandalism, known as price tag attacks which are committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, have risen in recent years.

Various attacks on Palestinian property, including arson and graffiti, have become a daily occurrence throughout the occupied territories, particularly in the West Bank.

However, Israeli authorities rarely prosecute Israeli settlers for their assaults on Palestinians and their property and the vast majority of the files are closed due to deliberate police failure to investigate properly.

The United Nations last year warned of a surge in Israeli settler violence against Palestinians, mostly in the areas of al-Khalil, al-Quds, Nablus and Ramallah.

Settlers are never persecuted for their activities against Palestinians and their properties.

Between the beginning of this year and March 21, Israeli settlers carried out 128 attacks in the West Bank, according to the UN.

The Palestinian foreign ministry has time and again condemned in the strongest terms Israeli settler price tag attacks on places of worship and worshipers and other sites. It has called on the international community and relevant international bodies to stand against such grave violations of international law, human rights principles and civil liberties – the foremost of which is the freedom of worship.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds. 

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.

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