|Around 90 Palestinian-owned trees damaged by Israeli
Ten incidents of settler violence resulting in injury or damage to property were recorded during the two-week period, marking a rise in the number of settler violence incidents over the past six weeks. Of the total, three incidents resulted in injury to five Palestinians, including three children and one woman.
On 11 October, two children, ages eight and 16, were attacked and injured by around seven settlers from Metzadot Yehuda outpost, near the area of Assefer (Hebron). The children were tending sheep near their house which is located close to the settlement.The eight-year-old was injured with a knife and the other was beaten with a club.
Coinciding with the official beginning of the olive harvest season, this period witnessed a significant increase in settler attacks targeting Palestinian harvesters and Palestinian-owned olive trees (nine incidents), with several incidents recorded in areas where access to land required prior-coordination with the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). In addition, several incidents involving intimidation were reported. In one incident, on 9 October, an attempt by a group of settlers to steal around 500 kg of olives harvested by a family in Yanun village (Nablus) was prevented following the intervention of Israeli forces. In two separate incidents on 11 October, settlers attacked Palestinians while they were picking olives in areas requiring prior coordination with the ICA, injuring a man and his nine-year-old child in Kafr al Labad (Tulkarem), and a 27-year-old-woman in Yassuf (Salfit).
In total, Israeli settlers damaged, around 90 trees owned by Palestinians in six villages across the West Bank, including 59 trees in Husan and Nahhalin (Bethlehem), 2 trees in Yassuf (Salfit), 15 trees in Burin (Nablus), and 15 trees in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya). Thus far in 2014, OCHA has recorded the damage or destruction of over 7,433 trees or saplings in the context of reported settler-related incidents, compared to around 9,265 trees and saplings in the same period in 2013. In addition in one incident on 7 October, a farmer who had been granted access to his land within the Israeli-imposed coordination times, found that his land in Deir al Hatab (Nablus) had been fenced off by settlers who, according to community sources, used it to graze sheep, causing damage to the trees.
During the reporting period, community sources reported a failed attempt to kidnap a four-year-old Palestinian child, by settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem. A settler was briefly detained by Israeli police in this connection. This brings the total number of such reported attempts since June 2014 in East Jerusalem to five, excluding the kidnapping and killing of a 16-year-old boy on 2 July 2014.
According to Israeli media sources, during the week, there were seven incidents of attacks on Israeli settlers, of which one resulted in injury to two female settlers and six resulting in damage to settler vehicles and a house, compared to a weekly average of three such incidents recorded since the beginning of the year. All incidents were the result of stone throwing by Palestinians in Hebron, Bethlehem, and East Jerusalem. In addition, nine incidents of stone throwing at the light rail in Shu’fat (East Jerusalem) were reported.
Concerns over further settlement expansion
On 30 September, dozens of Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli forces took over 25 apartments in Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The houses were bought by the El’ad settler organization. Silwan, with a population of some 55,000 Palestinians, is immediately adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. Due to its strategic and historical significance, it has repeatedly been the target of settlement activities by the Israeli government as well as religious settler organizations. According to local sources, since the late 1980’s, Israeli settlers have taken over 19 buildings in Silwan occupied by 350 settlers. Furthermore, the City of David settlement tourist center is located at the entrance of Silwan, across from which, a plan promoted by El’ad for the construction of a visitors’ centre (Kedem center) was approved by the District Planning Committee in February 2014.
On 2 October, Israeli authorities announced in al Quds newspaper that the status of 80 dunums of privately-owned Palestinian land in Al Khader and Nahhalin (Bethelhem), near Neve Daniel settlement, will be changed from agricultural land to public use. The land will be utilized to the benefit of the Neve Daniel settlement, and specifically, to build a religious school and public parks. The land is partly cultivated, and according to the Israeli Civil Administration, part of the land was previously declared ‘State land’.