New report details Israeli complicity in settler violence

New report details Israeli military complicity in settler violence in the West Bank
2 min read
24 July, 2021
A new report from Breaking the Silence has compiled the testimonies of former Israeli soldiers, documenting the ways protection for settlers was given.
Many former soldiers said they felt unable to arrest settlers [Getty]

A new report has documented the complicity of Israel's security forces in the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank

The report by Breaking the Silence, which is run by Israeli veterans, said that Israeli forces were enabling the violence committed by Israeli settlers, and provided a "cloak of protection" for their actions, which were becoming increasingly more violent. 

"Settlers, who are well aware of how to take advantage of this situation, often use the cloak of protection provided by the IDF to promote their goals, at the forefront of which is deepening their control of the area and pushing the Palestinians off of their land," the new report, titled On Duty, said.

The report complied the testimonies for 36 former members of the Israeli forces, dating back to 2012. 

"These testimonies, like many others, describe a reality marked by unending harm to and threat toward Palestinian people, property and land," reads the report. 

"The acts described here include different kinds of violent attacks, including beatings, stone-throwing and burning of agricultural fields and groves," it added. 

Israeli forces have long been accused of complicity in the attacks committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, which have witnessed a recent drastic rise.

Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem recorded that in just the first six months of 2021, attacks had increased 33% on the same period last year. 

While the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that more Palestinians had been injured by Jewish settlers in the first six months of 2021 than in the whole of 2020. 

The testimonies in report highlight the differences in how Israeli forces operating in the West Bank dealt with settlers, compared with Palestinians. 

"We could have arrested [the settlers] and we didn't arrest them. We didn't arrest anyone there," said one first sergeant when asked if they would arrest a settler for throwing stones. 

"I don't remember it being an option, that's the thing. I don't know if it was allowed or not, but I don't remember it being an option," he added. 

While another first sergeant confessed that he wasn't sure if he could arrest settlers.

"Truthfully, no. I know we were allowed [to arrest] Palestinians, as for Jews I don't know. Jews, I don't remember," he said. 

"All the time. I – my feeling was that the army was constantly really scared to mess with the settlers. That it wasn’t even an option to bring them to any kind of justice, or try to [think] how you prevent this thing next time," he added.