Critical Update on the Situation in Area “C” of the West Bank Amid Ongoing Assault on Palestinians in Gaza

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Critical Update on the Situation in Area “C” of the West Bank Amid Ongoing Assault on Palestinians in Gaza

Critical
Update on the Situation in Area “C” of the West Bank Amid Ongoing
Assault on Palestinians in Gaza

 

Issued by the Union of Agricultural Work
Committees (UAWC)

 

15 October, 2023

 

Palestinian
communities residing in
Area “C” of the West Bank are facing a severe crisis due to the
intensified aggression of Israeli forces and settlers as Israel continues its
assault on Gaza. These areas,
persistently
targeted
for long
before the recent war, are at the epicenter of a violent onslaught in the West
Bank that exacerbates an existential threat to Palestinian communities.

 

This dire situation is not merely a
series of isolated incidents, but rather is emblematic of a systematic and
brutal campaign of settler colonial violence aimed at wiping out the indigenous
Palestinian population.

 

This past week was
the deadliest in the West Bank since 2005 when OCHA started recording
casualties. Over the course of seven days, Israeli
forces or settlers have killed at least
56
Palestinians
and injured at
least 1200 in the occupied West Bank. At least 13 of those killed were
children. The military has arrested at least
400 others.
Israel’s
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced the
ministry’s purchase and distribution of 10,000
assault rifles along with helmets and body armor to further arm Israeli settler
militias. Since October 7, there have been at least
67 settler attacks – some also involving Israeli forces – leading to
casualties or property damage. This raises t
he daily average of settler
attacks to eight incidents per day, a significant increase compared to the
daily average of three incidents that had been reported since the start of this
year. Israeli forces and settlers fire live
ammunition without restraint, harming and murdering civilians, including women
and children. Disturbingly, these acts of aggression are not only condoned but
are often directly supported and even carried out by the Israeli military
and/or government.
Israeli settler attacks, especially in Area “C”, are
certain to escalate even further.

 

Israel has
manufactured a palpable atmosphere of fear. Under the protection of the
military, settlers have grown emboldened to an extent that they are even
attempting kidnappings, as seen in certain Bedouin communities. This surge in
settler violence has had a specific focus on herding and other Palestinian
communities that are already at risk of forcible displacement. On the 12th of
October, settlers targeted at least three such communities near Ramallah, in
the South Hebron Hills, and in the Jordan Valley, causing the forced
displacement of Palestinians to leave their homes or face unbearable violence
and danger. There are testimonies of communities in Wadi Siq, Arab Al-Mleihat,
Al-Hamra, and Samra of being forcibly displaced by Israeli settlers and forces.
The audacity of these acts reflects a belief in their impunity.

 

The heightened Israeli aggression
against Palestinians in the West Bank has taken a dire toll on the livelihoods
of farmers and rural communities, who rely on their lands for sustenance while
already being faced by
major obstacles.

 

Israel
is further denying them access to their fields during an especially crucial
harvest season like that of olives and guavas. Israel’s systematic denial of
Palestinian farmers’
access to their fields robs them not
only of their immediate source of income but also threatens the long-term food
security of Palestinian communities. This is a blatant attack on Palestinian food sovereignty, a
fundamental right to access, produce, and consume food in dignity. These
actions exacerbate existing oppressive restrictions and reflect a grave
violation of basic human rights.

 

Israel is also systematically destroying critical infrastructure. Roads and water lines, essential for
daily life and livelihoods, are being targeted and rendered inoperable. This
further isolates and exacerbates the suffering of these Palestinian
communities, making it even more difficult for them to access basic necessities
like food and water.

 

The
international community must not stand idly by in the face of such blatant
ongoing human rights violations. The urgency of the situation demands immediate
and decisive action to ensure the safety and security of the Palestinian
communities in Area “C” and to hold the perpetrators accountable for
their reprehensible actions.

 

To
underscore the gravity of the situation, we present documented incidents of
settler violence:

      Armed settlers, under
military protection, opened fire on resi
dents of Tuwani
village, east of Hebron, and Burin, Yatma and Qabalan (all in Nablus).

      Assaults in the eastern
regions of Hebron, including property destruction in Masafer Yatta and the
demolition of residential structures and solar cells in Jinba.

      Complete forced displacement
of 30 families in
Wadi al-Siq and armed attacks on the crews of the Wall Resistance
Authority.

      Settler attacks on a Bedouin
gathering near Ein Shibli, close to the Al-Hamra checkpoint.

      Farmers in southern Nablus
villages, from Duma to Burin, face extreme risks accessing their olive fields.

      In Yatta, a settler shot a
Palestinian at point-blank range.

      Israeli forces destroyed
agricultural roads and water lines in Deir Istiya, Salfit.

      All agricultural roads near
the Givat Ronen outpost and Bracha settlement in Burin village have been
closed.

      In Tubas, settlers attempted
to abduct two young men.

      Palestinians are being
denied access to their olive fields in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, Salfit.

      West of Ramallah, Israeli
forces have sealed off all entrances to Al-Janiya and Ras Karkar villages.

      Farmers in Qalqilya behind
the wall reported their inability to harvest guava crops due to movement
restrictions.

      Settlers used a bulldozer to
demolish two residential rooms, a water well, a fence, and multiple trees
belonging to a Palestinian that was forcibly displaced this past week due to
settler attacks in Mfagara, Masafer Yatta.

 

We
urgently call upon the international community to take immediate and decisive
action to halt Israel’s violations against and ensure the protection of
Palestinians in the West Bank, and to safeguard Palestinian access to their
lands.