Amid The World’s Eyes Fixated On Gaza, West Bank Is Facing Its Own War
The Israel-Hamas war has been raging for six weeks. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes since October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel and killed about 1,200 people.
Israel captured Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war. When Israeli warplanes swooped over the enclave following Hamas’ assault, Palestinians say a different kind of conflict took hold in the occupied West Bank.
Settler Violence Spreading Fear And Deepening Despair
Overnight, the territory was closed off. Curfews were imposed, towns raided, teenagers arrested, prisoners beaten and villages stormed by Jewish vigilantes. Israeli settler attacks have increased at an unprecedented rate, spreading fear and deepening despair.
Settlers claim the occupied West Bank as their biblical birthright. Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal. Israel considers the territory disputed land and says the settlements’ fate should be decided in negotiations.
US President Joe Biden and other administration officials have repeatedly raised concerns over the settler violence. Nonetheless, while conflict has long been part of daily life in the West Bank, Palestinians say the ongoing war has unleashed a new wave of provocations.
“Our lives are hell,” said Sabri Boum, a farmer who fortified his windows with metal grills last week to protect his children. “It is like I’m in a prison.” In six weeks, settlers have claimed nine Palestinian lives, according to Palestinian health authorities.
Destroying Olive Trees During The Crucial Harvest Season
The settlers have also unleashed an unprecedented level of attack on olive trees. Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas said settlers have destroyed 3,000-plus olive trees during the crucial harvest season, wiping out what for some were inheritances.
Before the Hamas attack, 2023 already was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in more than 20 years, with 250 killed. Over the six weeks of the violence, Israeli security forces have killed another 206 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.