Photo: B'tselem

Palestine: Israeli settler attacks forcibly transfer Jerusalem community

Published 13. Jul 2023
Sustained Israeli settler violence pushed seven Palestinian families from the Al-Baqa’a Bedouin community, northeast of Jerusalem, to flee their homes this week.

“After three weeks of harassment, intimidation and physical assaults, the families living in Al-Baqa’a had no choice but to leave,” said Caroline Ort, NRC’s country director for Palestine. “Israeli settlers, with tacit—and sometimes explicit—support from Israeli government officials, are intimidating and attacking Palestinian communities with the express goal of displacing them. Forcible transfer is a violation of international law and must stop.”

Thirty-six Palestinians, including 20 children, have been displaced after Israeli settlers established a new outpost, intimidated and harassed community members, and burned a residential tent.

Israeli authorities have created an increasingly coercive environment, pressuring and ultimately forcing Al-Baqa’a residents to leave. Expanding Israeli settlements, as well as planning and zoning restrictions have limited residents’ freedom of movement, including access to grazing lands. Fear of settler attacks have also prevented community members from leaving their homes and moving freely.

“We call on third states to demand accountability for settler violence,” said Ort. “Too often we hear only condemnations and condolences from the international community, but it’s not enough. We need action to end this impunity.”

Two families from Al-Baqa’a have decided to remain in the community. Israel must fulfil its obligations under international law to stop settler violence, protect Palestinians, and prevent further displacement.

The West Bank Protection Consortium, led by NRC, has supported the community with residential tents, latrines, and other material support.

Notes to editors:

  • International law prohibits Israel as an occupying power from forcibly transferring members of the occupied population from their existing communities against their will. The term “forcibly” is not restricted to physical force, but may include threat of force or coercion, such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of power.
  • In the last year, Israel has forcibly transferred at least four Palestinian communities in the central West Bank, including Al-Baqa’a. In May, repeated settler attacks and the anticipated demolition of their school forced 26 Palestinian families, comprising 132 individuals, including 68 children, to leave Ein Samiya. Coercive measures also led to the forcible transfer of 134 Palestinians, including 83 children, from Wadi As-Seeq and Ras At-Tin.
  • The UN has documented 591 Israeli settler attacks so far this year that have resulted in casualties and property damage. The monthly average for the first six months of 2023 is 39 per cent higher than the monthly average of settler-related incidents in all 2022.
  • Settlers killed six Palestinians and injured 204 others, including 24 children, in the first six months of 2023.
  • The West Bank Protection Consortium was formed to prevent the forcible transfer of Palestinians in the West Bank. It is a strategic partnership of five international NGOs, 10 EU donors, Canada, the United Kingdom and EU Humanitarian Aid.