Dozens of Palestinians injured in attacks by settlers in West Bank

Escalation followed disappearance of settler boy whose body was found on Saturday

Relatives mourn during the funeral of Omar Hamed, who was killed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank village of Baytin on Saturday. AFP
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Israeli settlers protected by the army injured dozens of Palestinians in a spate of attacks across the occupied West Bank on Saturday, mainly in Ramallah and Nablus.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society spokeswoman Nibal Farsakh said paramedics treated 13 people injured in Ramallah, seven of whom were injured by live ammunition, as settlers attacked the villages of Abu Falah, Ain Sinya, Beitin and Al Mughayir.

"In Ramallah, settlers also fired live ammunition on ambulance vehicles, and hindered their movement in transporting the injured," Ms Farsakh told The National.

A teenager, Omar Ahmad Abdulghani Hamed, died from his injuries, while another 17-year-old was undergoing treatment after being shot in the head by settlers, Palestinian state news agency Wafa reported.

The Red Crescent responded to 10 cases of injury, including seven injuries from live ammunition, in Duma and Beit Furik. Settler attacks were also reported in other areas, the Red Crescent said, including Jenin, Tubas and Qalqilya.

"There already has been an escalation in attacks since the war began in Gaza on October 7 but nothing like we've been seeing in recent days," Ms Farsakh said.

The surge in attacks followed the disappearance on Friday of a boy from a settler outpost near Al Mughayir. His body was discovered the following day. Settlers supported by Israeli troops stormed the village on Friday night, killing one person and setting residents' homes and vehicles on fire.

The Israeli army said 14-year-old Binyamin Achimair was murdered in a "terrorist attack" and that Palestinian suspects were being pursued.

Violence in the West Bank was already on the rise before the Gaza war broke out following Hamas's attack in southern Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed. Around 240 people were seized as hostages by the militants and taken to Gaza.

At least 462 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers in the West Bank since then, according to Palestinian official figures.

The Israeli NGO B’Tselem reported that at least 1,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the West Bank by Israel “under the guise of the war in Gaza”.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, this week urged the global body to "authorise the deployment of a protective presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the explicit mandate to prevent and (repel) attacks against civilians".

"The Israeli army has abundantly proven unwilling or unable to ensure that task," she wrote on X.

Excluding annexed East Jerusalem, the West Bank is home to around 490,000 Israeli settlers who live in communities considered illegal under international law.

Given the situation in Gaza, where the death toll has reached 33,700, with 76,371 injured and famine is looming because of strict Israeli controls on the entry of relief supplies, the situation in the West Bank is not being given as much attention as it normally would.

"Normally, when settler attacks occur in the West Bank we would be inflamed and upset. But unfortunately, we're all preoccupied with our own circumstances and the difficult life we're trying to live," Odai, a 24-year-old resident of northern Gaza, told The National.

There is also a sense among Gazans that they have been "abandoned", he said, "so the expectation that anyone would retaliate on our behalf is not really something we have hopes for".

Updated: April 14, 2024, 2:04 PM