On Sunday, the United Nations’ envoy to the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, described the daylight killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank as “shocking and unacceptable”. He also called on Israel to “put an end to settler violence and bring those responsible to justice”.
On January 26, a Palestinian man, identified as 38-year-old Hamdi Naasan, was shot in the back by illegal Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, in the village of al-Mugheir. He succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards, at a hospital in Ramallah on Saturday, according to the Palestinian health ministry. He is survived by his wife and four children.
The head of the Mugheir village council, Amin Abu Alya, said that the settlers started shooting first and, later on, the Israeli army soldiers arrived and fired tear gas at the protesting Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 30 people were injured, about of which six were injured by live ammunition.
According to reports, Israeli settlers tried to break into the village and raid it with the help of Israeli soldiers, rioting on the streets and even opening fire at several houses. When the palestinian residents tried to defend their village, the settlers responded with sudden and random firing towards them, during which Naasan got hit on his lower back.
Recently, Palestinians in al-Mugheir faced repeated attacks from the two illegal Israeli settlements nearby, Mevo Shilo and Adei Ad. Last November, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), documented more than 200 violent incidents since the start of 2018, attributed to Israeli settlers, which caused casualties or injuries to the residents and damage to Palestinian property. The OCHA also said that this represents a 57-175% increase in the number of incidents of violence recorded since 2014, compared to 2016 and 2017 respectively.
In all the cases Israeli soldiers played as a catalyst is the crime by the settlers. Abu Alya said that the Israeli police as well as the army looked the other way while the settlers were firing. Even when the Israeli security forces arrived, they started shooting at the Palestinians and arresting them instead of restraining the settlers from firing and arresting them for the murder of an unarmed Palestinian civilian.
The Israeli police has opened an investigation into the murder, but according to statistics, 85% of investigations end in no conviction for the settler accused of murder. Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, which stopped cooperating with these kinds of investigations in 2016, said that they merely serve as a kind of ‘whitewashing’ or a ‘fig leaf’ to cover the occupation. Another Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, found that only 3% of the ‘ideologically motivated’ crimes against Palestinians result in conviction.
Around 750,000 Israelis live in the occupied Palestinian territories of occupied East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal under international law.