When Israeli Settlers Attack: A History of Impunity and Incitement

July 31, 2015 IMEU
When Israeli Settlers Attack: A History of Impunity and Incitement
Photo: AP

 Settler Violence Against Palestinians

  • Attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers living illegally in the occupied Palestinian West Bank have increased by 150% in recent years.
  • So-called "revenge" or "price tag" attacks on Palestinian individuals, homes, cars, churches, mosques and trees are perpetrated in order to intimidate Palestinians and aggressively advocate for illegal settlements.
  • Settlers are rarely held accountable for these violent attacks. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, from 2000-2011, only 11% of cases of settler violence resulted in an indictment, 23% of cases were never investigated, and another 6% received no response from authorities at all.
  • In rare cases where settlers were tried, sentences were extremely lenient. Similarly, roughly 94% of investigations against Israeli soldiers suspected of violent activity against Palestinians and their property are closed without indictment.  

Segregated Legal System

  • Beyond a lack of accountability, Israeli settlers enjoy the privileges of a segregated, dual legal system which grants them liberties that are denied to Palestinians, though both populations live under Israeli rule. This unequal system contributes to settler impunity in the occupied West Bank.

Support for Settlements and Attacks

  • Israeli political leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have encouraged illegal settlement expansion and activity, in contravention of international law and U.S. policy. Under Netanyahu’s administration, settlement construction grew 23%. When visiting a settlement when he first took office, Netanyahu declared: "We will be here permanently forever."
  • Dan Halutz, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, has affirmed that Netanyahu’s government is not serious about preventing settler violence, stating: "If we wanted, we could catch them [settlers who are attacking Palestinians] and when we want to, we will."
  • In 2012, it was revealed that Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman had been offering advice to extreme right-wing activists on how to seek pardons for Israeli Jews convicted of violent attacks against Palestinians and others.

Incitement to Violence by Israeli Leaders

  • A number of Israeli leaders have also incited violence against Palestinians. Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Moshe Feiglin published an article referring to Palestinians as "savages."
  • Knesset member Ayelet Shaked posted an article written by a former Netanyahu speechwriter calling for violence towards Palestinians, including mothers: 
“...Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”