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United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
11 October 2011
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11 October 2011
Spike in violence by Israeli Settlers against Palestinian Civilians
Rupert Colville of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees said that the UN human rights office was concerned about a spike in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank since the beginning of September. OHCHR was particularly concerned about the situation in the Palestinian village of Qusra, which lay close to Nablus in the northern West Bank. Qusra had been targeted by settlers at least six times in the past six weeks. The attacks had taken various forms and were emblematic of the phenomenon of settler violence throughout the West Bank. They had resulted in substantial property loss and damage in addition to cases of serious physical injury. A mosque had been torched, hundreds of trees had been cut down and a Palestinian civilian had been killed following the intervention of an IDF unit. Palestinians from this village had in the past already lost access to hundreds of acres of land due to settlement expansion and erection of outposts.
A report by the Secretary-General entitled “Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Syrian Golan” was due to be released in the next few days. It addressed the continuation of Israeli settlement construction and its impact on the human rights of the residents, including violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property and the lack of accountability for settler violence. The report had been prepared by the UN human rights office in the occupied Palestinian territory in cooperation with various other UN entities.
OHCHR called on the Government of Israel to fulfill its obligation under international human rights and international humanitarian law to protect Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory. More needed to be done to effectively prevent attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and, when they did occur, they should be properly investigated by the Israeli authorities. Victims should also be appropriately compensated for their losses. With the olive harvest season beginning in a few days time, OHCHR urged the Israeli authorities to take effective measures to stop attacks by settlers in the occupied West Bank.