New DCI report: increased settler attacks against children
Today, Defence for Children International–Palestine Section (DCI/PS) released a report that documents the troubling extent of settler attacks perpetrated against Palestinian children in the Occupied Territory.
While settler violence has steadily increased since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000, the start of 2008 has marked a notable increase in settler attacks against Palestinian civilians, including children.
In the first five months of 2008 alone, OCHA documented 42 cases of settler attacks resulting in death or injury to Palestinians in comparison with 76 cases for all of 2007. Since the beginning of 2008, OCHA has documented 19 child injuries and one child fatality as a result of settler attacks, with almost 70 per cent of the incidents occurring in Hebron.
DCI/PS’ report is based on evidence gathered during the period January 2007 – June 2008 and is limited to settler attacks on Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The report highlights nine separate incidents of settler attacks including shootings, beatings and stone-throwing incidents, resulting in injuries to 12 Palestinian children.
None of these incidents led to serious investigations by the Israeli authorities, even in cases where complaints were filed; and victims remain without any form of justice or compensation.
DCI/PS welcomes the steps recently taken by the British government to pressure the European Union to enact more stringent labeling laws designed to curb imports of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements which violate the current Israel-EU trade agreement. DCI/PS further calls on the international community to demand that Israel:
Protect the civilian population in the Occupied Territory, including children, from settler attacks and ensure that all cases of settler attacks are thoroughly and impartially investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice.
Immediately halt all settlement activity and takes measures to dismantle existing settlements and begin the process of relocating its nationals inside the state’s legally recognised borders.
Recognise that the construction of settlements represents a grave violation of the fundamental rights and liberties of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination.
Uphold its legal obligations to the Palestinian population under occupation in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
DCI/PS’ report Under Attack: Settler Violence against Palestinian Children in the Occupied Territory is available on-line and in printed copies.
The occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is home to over 450,000 illegal Jewish settlers who live in the more than 130 settlements and 100 unauthorised outposts constructed on confiscated Palestinian land. The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv recently reported some 15,000 Israelis moved into illegal settlements in the West Bank since the beginning of the year. A growing settler population, emboldened by weak law enforcement by Israeli authorities, has led to an escalation in violent attacks against surrounding Palestinian communities, a fact which Israeli officials can no longer deny.
In fact, a number of Israeli officials have begun to acknowledge that settler attacks are not isolated incidents limited to an unruly few but are indicative of a widespread and growing problem. The Chief Military Officer in the West Bank, Major-General Gadi Shamni recently stated that hundreds of Jewish settlers are committing acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, calling it a “grave phenomenon” and a “very significant” increase over the past. Throughout the ongoing olive harvest season, several reported incidents of settler attacks have surfaced and still more are expected to occur. In recent weeks, settler attacks directed at Israeli soldiers and police in the West Bank as well as an ideologically motivated pipe-bomb attack at the home of a prominent Israeli professor and outspoken critic of the settlements prompted the Israeli government’s decision to stop all financial support to the unauthorised settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.
Despite these recent overtures, the Israeli military and police have consistently failed to prevent settler attacks and to take adequate law enforcement measures to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Palestinians who fall victim to attacks are hesitant to file complaints because they lack confidence in a law enforcement system that affords little protection and allows settlers to attack with impunity. In 2007, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din reported that 85 per cent of assault cases were closed without indictments.