The ongoing state-sanctioned settler violence in the West Bank must end!

“They’re attacking civilians and displacing Palestinians from the river to the sea. They are trying to terrorise us and kick us out any way they can” – Hind*, 25, Deir Dabwan, occupied West Bank

While Israel continues to bomb, kidnap, displace, murder and starve the people of Gaza, destroying their homes, schools, hospitals, places of worship, cemeteries, and cultural and historical sites, the objectives of the genocidal state to brutalise Palestinians across occupied Palestine are simultaneously being faithfully, and horrifically, carried out by armed Israeli settlers and Israeli forces in the West Bank.

We are enraged and devastated to witness the ongoing pogroms by Israeli settlers against the Palestinians in the West Bank, which have been facilitated by Israeli forces and sanctioned by the Israeli political establishment for decades. These pogroms form a part of the broader project of land theft and apartheid spatial planning in the West Bank, which aims to strategically encircle Palestinian towns and villages with illegal settlements and entrench Israel’s presence and control of the area. Since 1967, close to 300 illegal settlements and outposts have been established in the West Bank, now home to nearly 700 000 Israeli settlers. These settlers continuously terrorise Palestinians, attacking their homes, their livestock, and destroying their olive trees.

In 2023, violence by Israeli forces and Israeli settlers in the West Bank reached its highest level, making it the deadliest year for Palestinians since the recording of casualties began by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2005. Almost 300 of the Palestinians killed in the West Bank in 2023 were killed after 7 October, in raids and pogroms which have continued and intensified over the last six months.

On Friday, 12th April, armed settlers stormed the villages of al-Mughayyir, Duma, Beit Furik and Qusra, shooting Palestinians and setting homes and cars on fire, destroying many of them. Thus far, two Palestinians have been killed, and hundreds have been injured. Thousands of Palestinians live in a continued state of terror because of these brutal attacks. Not only do they continue with impunity, Palestinians, a population living under a military occupation, receive no protection from these pogroms and are deprived of any and all means of holding those responsible to account.

This takes place with the full cooperation of Israeli forces. According to Human Rights Watch, in a statement published on Wednesday, 17th April:  

“The Israeli military either took part in or did not protect Palestinians from violent settler attacks in the West Bank that have displaced people from 20 communities and have entirely uprooted at least 7 communities since October 7, 2023….

Israeli settlers have assaulted, tortured, and committed sexual violence against Palestinians, stolen their belongings and livestock, threatened to kill them if they did not leave permanently, and destroyed their homes and schools under the cover of the ongoing hostilities in Gaza. Many Palestinians, including entire communities, have fled their homes and lands. The military has not assured displaced residents that it will protect their security or allow them to return, forcing them to live in precarious conditions elsewhere.”

It is unconscionable that what many of our ancestors experienced in Europe – the brutality, the hatred, the pogroms, kristallnacht – continue to be perpetrated by their descendants against the Palestinians in the West Bank and across Palestine. For a people whose experiences of persecution, oppression and violence are etched into our collective memory, as we will discuss around the pesach table, we refuse to remain silent when this is being done to others, let alone be responsible for doing it. We demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the cessation of all state-sponsored terror campaigns in the West Bank and the decolonisation of historic Palestine!   

*name changed by Al Jazeera to protect the individual’s identity.