Israeli settlers attack DCIP field researcher near Jenin

May 12, 2022
Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli forces attacked Hani Nassar, a field researcher at Defense for Children International - Palestine, around 5:15 p.m. on May 12.

Ramallah, May 12, 2022—Israeli settlers attacked a human rights field researcher from Defense for Children International - Palestine today near Jenin.

A group of at least 10 Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli forces attacked Hani Nassar, a field researcher at DCIP, around 5:15 p.m. today on Route 60 near the evacuated Israeli settlement of Homesh, south of the northern occupied West Bank city Jenin. Nassar was physically assaulted by the Israeli settlers then Israeli forces sprayed him with pepper spray, according to information collected by DCIP. A large group of at least 50 Israeli settlers approached Nassar and other Palestinians nearby, attacking people and their cars. Nassar was transported to a health clinic in Silat Ad-Dhaher, a Palestinian village located nearby, where he was treated and released.

“Settler violence is state-sanctioned violence as Israeli forces aid and protect Israeli settlers as they carry out attacks against Palestinians,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “This incident accentuates how rampant and unchecked settler violence against Palestinians is due to systemic impunity.”

Nassar joined DCIP as a field researcher in 2011 and works to document human rights violations against Palestinian children living in the northern occupied West Bank. At the time he was attacked, Nassar was driving south toward Nablus after attending a meeting in Jenin and working to document a case involving ill-treatment of a Palestinian child detained by Israeli forces. 

While Homesh was officially evacuated in 2005, a group called Homesh First established a Jewish seminary at the site soon after the evacuation, according to Haaretz. The Israeli settlers there are known to be extremely violent, Haaretz reported.  

In August 2021, Israeli settlers from Homesh abducted and brutally assaulted 15-year-old Tareq Z. The settlers pursued and struck Tareq with their car, tied him to the vehicle’s hood, hung him by his arms from a tree, and beat him until he lost consciousness, according to information collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine.

Israeli settlers commit violence against Palestinians and their property daily throughout the occupied West Bank. Between January 1 and April 18, 2022, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) documented 181 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property. 

Israel has an obligation as the Occupying Power under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation. However, DCIP documentation shows that Israeli forces frequently fail to intervene to stop or prevent Israeli settler attacks. Often, Israeli forces protect the Israeli settlers as they carry out attacks and acts of violence against Palestinians and their property. 

While they are civilians, Israeli settlers are issued firearms by the Israeli government and many subscribe to ultra-nationalistic beliefs that manifest in extreme violence towards Palestinians, including children. Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians are motivated by the drive to dispossess Palestinians of their land, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system. Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israeli authorities have established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements that house around 700,000 Israeli citizens, according to the Times of Israel.

Impunity is rampant for Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, 91 percent of investigations into ideological crimes against Palestinians are closed with no indictments filed. 

Israeli authorities consistently fail to investigate complaints filed against settlers. According to Yesh Din, between 2005-2019, 82 percent of investigative files on ideological crimes against Palestinians were closed due to police failures. 

It is rare for charges to be filed and even rarer for Israeli settlers to be convicted for violence or offenses against Palestinians. One recent exception was when an Israeli court found Israeli settler Amiram Ben-Uleil, 25, guilty of the racially motivated murder of a Palestinian toddler and his parents. In the early hours of July 31, 2015, Ben-Uleil and another masked man threw firebombs into the home of 18-month old Ali Dawabsheh, four-year-old Ahmad, and their parents, Saad and Riham, in the northern occupied West Bank village of Duma. Only Ahmad, who sustained burns to over 60 percent of his body, survived.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits Israel, the Occupying Power, from transferring its civilians to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also prohibits Israel from transferring Palestinians, the protected population, unless necessary for the protected population’s security or out of military necessity. Violations of Article 49 are grave violations of international humanitarian law and amount to war crimes. 

The United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the prohibition on establishing settlements in Security Council Resolutions 446, 452, 465, and most recently, 2334. Despite this prohibition, Israel began establishing Jewish-only settlements for Israeli civilians shortly after it occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967. Israeli authorities frequently displace Palestinian communities and appropriate Palestinian lands to establish these Jewish-only settlements.

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