IN a new report, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, says that Israel is carrying out forcible transfer, making the lives of residents in areas it wishes to take over unbearable, forcing them to leave their homes and lands. At least six Palestinian communities have already fled their homes, terrorised by settlers working in the service of the state

Driving shepherds off their fields, physically assaulting local residents, invading their homes in the middle of the night, setting fires, scaring flocks, vandalising crops, stealing property, blocking roads and destroying water tanks – this is what settlers do to Palestinians, says B’Tselem. This incessant violence is encouraged by the state and serves it. With no one to protect them and having no other choice, at least six communities have fled their homes in the past two years. Dozens more are in immediate danger of forced displacement.

This policy has two components. On one track, cleared by military orders, legal advisers and the Supreme Court, Israel expels Palestinians from their lands. On the other, parallel track, settlers use violence against Palestinians, aided and abetted by all state authorities, and sometimes with their participation.

In the report, published on 18 September 2023, B’Tselem stresses that members of the current government, some of whom have personally led the violence in the past, encourage and bolster these attacks. They praise violent settlers and erase, by their actions, even the appearance of a functioning law enforcement system: a minister issues a call to “erase Huwarah” ( a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank), members of parliament pay a hospital visit to an Israeli suspected of killing a Palestinian, ministers refuse to condemn the violence and condone one pogrom after another inside Palestinian communities.

B’Tselem says this is an illegal policy that implicates Israel in the war crime of forcible transfer. International law, which Israel is obligated to respect and has undertaken to abide by, forbids the forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory – no matter the circumstances. The fact that this case does not involve soldiers arriving at residents’ homes and physically forcing them out does not detract from the state’s responsibility: creating a coercive environment leaving residents without choice is sufficient to hold Israel liable for this crime.

* Read: The pogroms are working – the transfer is already happening here.

* Source: B’Tselem