Palestinians brace for more violence after reprisal attacks in the West Bank

Palestinians in the West Bank and within Israel brace for an escalation in violence following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and attacks by Israeli settlers.

The Conflict: Israel’s response to a Hamas attack, which killed 1400 Israelis, has claimed more than 4100 Palestinian lives, including over 1600 children.
* The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called the Israeli response a “collective punishment” and urged an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, as hospitals are running out of fuel and people are starved of basic goods.

Settler Violence: Outside of Gaza and southern Israel, violence against Palestinians in the West Bank has also spiked recently, resulting in at least 74 Palestinian casualties.
* The Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, has been documenting these attacks, including the killing of Palestinians in Qusra by armed settlers, showing an increase in the violence by hundreds of percent over the last week.
* According to the Israeli police, no arrests have been made in connection with the six killings in Qusra, and a lawyer representing settlers mentioned that many attacks on Palestinians since Oct. 7th have resulted in no arrests.
* Mayor of Qusra, Hani Awda Abu Alaa, indicates that daily attacks in his village are causing residents to live in terror.

Incited Anguish: Palestinian communities mourn their dead and fear the increasing violence could make their lands untenable.
* Relatives express their grief and frustration, pointing out the impact on their families and posing the question to President Biden, “What did they do to Biden or Israel?”
* The violence aims to depopulate Palestinian lands, much like what has occurred in the villages of Al-Qanub and Wadi Al-Sik due to settler violence.

The Settlers’ Perspective: Settlers see life in the occupied West Bank as a battle, and some harbor hopes of a future that excludes Palestinians.
* Nati Rom, a settler from the neighboring settlement of Esh Kodesh, shares his vision of eliminating the Palestinians, referring to them as “the snake.”
* On the other hand, Gedaliah and Elisheva Blum, settlers from Eli, believe the issue isn’t about land, but rather a clash of cultures and ideologies. They feel that coexistence is no longer a feasible option.

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