Extremist Israeli settlers have been violently taking over Palestinian lands and forcing hundreds of Palestinians to leave their homes, leading to the disappearance of some Palestinian communities off the map, an independent humanitarian organization says.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a report on Thursday that around 500 Palestinians from seven communities have been forcibly displaced over the past 20 months.
“There are entire Palestinian communities being wiped off the map, a shameful legacy of unrelenting violence, intimidation and harassment perpetuated by Israeli settlers and, in some cases, encouraged by Israeli authorities,” Ana Povrzenic, NRC’s country director for Palestine, said.
She added, “The rapid establishment of settlement outposts and takeover of Palestinian land is choking Palestinian communities, destroying their livelihoods, and putting Palestinian lives at risk. Palestinians have no choice but to flee, leaving behind their homes, schools, and jobs.”
It warned that more and more Palestinian communities will be forcibly displaced if Israel is not held accountable.
Lately, a dozen families, comprising 89 Palestinians, among them 39 children, were forcibly displaced from Ras At-Tin village, east of Ramallah, following increased settler harassment and intimidation.
Israeli settlers took over the community’s grazing lands and established a vineyard next to an Israeli military base.
The NRC highlighted that some 60 Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank are at heightened risk of forcible displacement due to Israeli settler and soldier violence, settlement expansion, and Israel’s fairly discriminatory policies and practices, including its unlawful planning and zoning regime.
“Without holding Israel accountable, more and more Palestinian communities will be forcibly transferred,” warned Povrzenic. “How many more Ras At-Tins must there be before the international community acts?”
More than 700,000 Israelis live in over 279 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.
While all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, the occupying regime has stepped up settlement expansion in blatant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.
Israel withholding bodies of 30 Palestinians
Meanwhile, the Israeli regime has reportedly been withholding the bodies of 30 Palestinians since the beginning of the current year, of whom 11 were prisoners.
Eight of the fallen Palestinians hailed from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, six from Nablus, five from Ariha, three from Ramallah, four from al-Ouds, and the last four from al-Khalil.
Mohammed Eliyyan, a lawyer, published the names of the Palestinians whose bodies are being withheld, adding that he will continue publicizing the names in "support of the martyrs’ families."
The handing over of bodies is always done through the Palestinian civil liaison office, the Palestinian body in charge of coordinating civil affairs with the occupying Israeli regime.
Between 2007 and 2015, Israel stopped the practice of withholding Palestinian bodies.
Then came the Palestinian October 2015 Intifada (uprising), during which the number of Palestinian retaliatory operations against Israeli forces and settlers increased, often ending with the killing of the suspected attackers. Israeli forces then began once again to withhold the bodies of those killed.
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