Israeli settler violence threatens Palestinians in occupied territories

Violence against Palestinians by settlers continues under the ever-expanding settler population in the occupied West Bank

Israeli settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank, revealing a rampant wave of violence against Palestinians. Hamdi Nassan, 38, died after being shot in the back with live ammunition, according to the Palestinian health ministry. His death was just one of a series of deadly attacks carried out by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, around 3,000 people attended the funeral as they carried Nassan's body, wrapped in the Palestinian flag. Mughayir, a village of around 4,000 residents, is surrounded by four Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law.

"About eight settlers, dressed in white and armed with rifles, arrived from the north of the village," said Ali Hassan, who witnessed the clashes. "We didn't know what they wanted, we went to meet them and they started shooting." He said Nassan was helping evacuate the wounded when he was himself hit, and that Israeli soldiers saw the incident but did not immediately intervene.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing, warning that the latest attack "will lead to serious consequences, further tension and the creation of a dangerous and uncontrollable atmosphere," in a statement published by the official Wafa news agency.

The U.N.'s Mideast envoy called the death of the Palestinian in the West Bank clashes with Israeli settlers "shocking and unacceptable." Nikolay Mladenov on Sunday called on Israel to "put an end to settler violence and bring those responsible to justice."

Israeli daily Haaretz recently reported that settler attacks on West Bank Palestinians had tripled in 2018, with at least 482 separate attacks recorded last year, up from 140 attacks in 2017. According to the newspaper, attacks ranged from beating up Palestinians and vandalizing their property to cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers.

Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank are frequently targeted by extremist Jewish settlers. Palestinian schools have long been subjected to Israeli violence. The Al-Laban-Al-Sawiya school in Nablus was attacked by settlers a few months ago and is constantly being attacked by the Israeli army, according to Palestinian residents.

Around 650,000 Israelis currently live in more than 100 Jewish-only settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, when Israel occupied both areas. The Israeli-occupied West Bank is also home to more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal. The Palestinians want both these territories, along with the Gaza Strip, for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

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