UN: Settler violence toward Palestinians on rise

Number of incidents higher during the first 10 months of 2008 than during the entire years of either 2007 or 2006.

settlement Building248.88 (photo credit: )
settlement Building248.88
(photo credit: )
The number of incidents of violence by settlers was higher during the first 10 months of 2008 than during the entire years of either 2007 or 2006, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated in a report issued Monday. According to the report, there were 290 "settler-related incidents" between January and October 2008, compared with 243 in 2007 and 182 in 2006. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) defines "incidents" as casualties (killed or wounded,) property damage, preventing access, trespassing and intimidation. OCHA found that more Israelis than Palestinians have been killed over the past three years - 10 Israelis versus four Palestinians. However, during the same period, 293 Palestinians were hurt in incidents involving settlers, compared with 116 Israelis. Most of the Palestinians (65 percent) injured in the first 10 months of 2008 were hurt in unarmed physical assaults by settlers. Another 27% were wounded in stone-throwing incidents. There were only two cases of injuries caused by firearms. OCHA found that half the Palestinian injuries were sustained by children, women and the elderly. Most of the incidents occurred in the Hebron and Nablus districts. A total of 42% occurred in the Hebron area, including 31% in the H2 zone of Hebron, which is under Israeli security control. Eleven percent occurred in the area around the settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha. OCHA wrote that one of the most serious instances of settler violence takes place regularly in southern Hebron. "Children who attend the Al-Tuweini village elementary school in south Hebron face regular attack and harassment by Israeli settlers, including being verbally abused, physically assaulted, chased and having stones thrown at them," the report stated. The report referred to the violence in the Hebron area and other parts of the West Bank that erupted as a result of the clash between the government and settlers over the disputed Beit Hashalom, whose occupants were evicted on December 4. It mentioned several incidents, including the wounding by gunfire of two Palestinians by a Kiryat Arba resident, but added that the IDF had tried to contain the violence. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Coordinator of Activities in the Administered Territories, said the Defense Ministry condemned the violence from both sides. He pointed out that after the recent damage to Palestinian property in Hebron, Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the civil administration to assess the damage and compensate the affected parties.