THIRTY human rights and civil society organisations in Israel, including B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Mothers Against Violence Israel, have released a statement urging the international community to act on unprecedented levels of settler violence in the West Bank.

So far, says B’Tselem, this wave of violence has led to the forcible transfer of at least 13 Palestinian agricultural communities in Area C of the West Bank, and more are preparing to leave.

The full statement, released on 29 October 2023 reads:

We, the undersigned human rights and civil society NGOs in Israel, call on the international community to act urgently to stop the state-backed wave of settler violence which has led, and is leading to, the forcible transfer of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

For the past three weeks, since Hamas’s atrocities of October 7th, settlers have been exploiting the lack of public attention to the West Bank, as well as the general atmosphere of rage against Palestinians, to escalate their campaign of violent attacks in an attempt to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities. During this period, no fewer than thirteen herding communities have been displaced. Many more are in danger of being forced to flee in the coming days if immediate action is not taken.

Palestinian farmers are particularly vulnerable at this time, during the annual olive harvest season, because if they are unable to pick their olives they will lose a year’s income. Yesterday Bilal Muhammed Saleh from the village of As-Sawiya south of Nablus was murdered while tending to his olive trees. He was the seventh Palestinian to have been killed by settlers since the current war began.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government is supportive of these attacks and does nothing to stop this violence. On the contrary: government ministers and other officials are backing the violence and in many cases the military is present or even participates in the violence, including in incidents where settlers have killed Palestinians. Moreover, since the war has begun there has been a growing number of incidents in which violent settlers have been documented attacking nearby Palestinian communities while wearing military uniform and using government-issued weapons.

With grave concern and with a clear understanding of the political landscape, we recognise that the only way to stop this forcible transfer in the West Bank is a clear, strong and direct intervention by the international community.

Now is the time to act.

* See the list of signatories here.

* Source: B’Tselem