A significant rise in settler violence against Palestinians in 2018

The last year has seen a significant rise in nationalist violence and property damage by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, reported the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Until mid-December, 482 incidents were reported, compared to 140 for 2017.

Most of the time, the offenses consisted of painting Jewish nationalist and anti-Arab or anti-Muslim slogans, vandalising homes and cars and cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers.

The United Nations and human rights organizations also pointed out the month of December reached a high point of violence following the killing of two Israeli soldiers in a West Bank attack, noted Wafa News agency.

Such incidents had decreased briskly in 2016 and 2017 from previous years. Haaretz attributed the decline to the response of the authorities following the firebombing in July 2016 of a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma, which took the lives of three members of the Dawabshe family.

After this event, a series of actions were taken by Israeli authorities in a bid to find the culprits.

These actions included detention without charges, restraining orders to keep suspects from the West Bank and, in a some cases, the granting of permission to interrogate suspects using harsh methods.

The methods, questionable for both Israelis and Palestinians, acted as a deterrent and brought down the rate of violence from Jews to Palestinians, according to Haaretz.

According to the Israeli army the rise seen in 2018 is due to closer surveillance by security forces. Some incidents of vandalism had never been documented in past years.

Contrastingly, Haaretz noted that some weaknesses can be seen in the way law enforcement treats acts of Jewish terror and violence; in some matter suspects are fastly released from detention without further legal action taken.

Over the past year some extremists were released from jail and the rise of new, younger extremist terror groups such as the Hilltop Youth, once again led to an increase in violent acts.

Theses extremist groups are recently treated with great softness, which gives them a sense of impunity, Haaretz said.

Finally, some seats of local councils in the municipal elections in November were won by extreme individuals.

According to Haaretz, this local political context favored ambiguous and lenient answers to violence from Jewish over Palestinians.

Source: Palestine Monitor