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While a Fire Rages in Gaza, the West Bank Smolders

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Human Wrongs Watch

By Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director, Middle East and North Africa Division Human Rights Watch*

Surge in Israeli Killings, Administrative Detention and Settler Violence

es in Gaza, the West Bank Smolders

Palestinians inspect a damaged building following a November 14 Israeli army raid in the city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank. © 2023 Sipa via AP Images
— While global attention is focused on Israel and Gaza, Israeli authorities are tightening their repression in the West Bank and Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians are surging.
That repression was already at a peak before the October 7 Hamas-led attack that killed some 1200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel, but it has gotten much worse since.
Between January 1 and October 6, Israeli security forces killed more Palestinians in the West Bank – 192, including 40 children – than in any other year since 2005, when the United Nations began systematically recording fatalities.

Since October 7, according to the UN, they have killed another 201 Palestinians, including 52 children; meaning they have killed more Palestinians in the West Bank in the last six weeks than in any entire year since 2005.

Palestinians have killed 24 Israeli civilians and 4 security force members in 2023 in the West Bank as of November 16, the highest number in more than 15 years.
Settlers have killed 15 Palestinians as of November 17. During the first eight months of 2023, settler violence soared to its highest level since the UN began recording this data in 2006; three incidents per day on average, up from two in 2022 and one in 2021. That rate has almost doubled since October 7.
As of October 1, Israel held 1,264 Palestinians in administrative detention without trial or charge based on secret information, the highest number in more than 30 years, according to the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked.
That number had jumped to 2,070, not including 105 “unlawful combatants” the Israeli military says it is detaining, by November 1.
During 2022 and the first eight months of 2023, 1,105 Palestinians, including 4 entire communities, were forced to leave their homes. Palestinians cited settler violence and prevention of access to grazing lands as the primary reason for their displacement. Nearly the same number – 1,014 people – have been displaced since October 7.
Settlers have attacked 92 Palestinian communities during this period, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din found. Impunity fuels settler violence, which, as the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has reported, “serves as a major informal tool at the hands of the state to take over more and more West Bank land.”
These abuses are a part of Israeli authorities’ crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, as documented by Human Rights Watch and other Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights organizations.
The roots of the violence in Israel-Palestine are multiple and run deep; ending the violence requires dismantling the systems of oppression that feed it, including in the West Bank.


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