In the wake of the deadly Hamas attacks in Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza, the West Bank has become a hotbed of violence. The United Nations reports that violent assaults by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have doubled, leading to an exodus of over 1,000 Palestinians from their homes. This mass displacement is a stark reminder of the ongoing conflict that has plagued the region since Israel captured the West Bank in 1967.
The Israeli settlements, considered illegal by most countries, have been a thorn in the side of peace efforts. The settlers and Israeli authorities argue that many Palestinian hamlets were built without permits and are therefore illegal. However, rights groups argue that the real aim is to forcibly expel Palestinian residents from parts of the West Bank.
The current level of violence is unprecedented, with settler attacks nearly doubling since the start of the war. The U.N. reports that in nearly half of these attacks, Israeli forces accompanied or supported the settlers. This has led to international condemnation, with President Biden considering issuing visa bans on violent settlers.
The village of Zanuta, once a bustling community, now stands empty. Its stone-brick houses are devoid of roofs and furniture, and the village school, funded by the European Union, is a shell of its former self. Residents were forced to flee due to the relentless attacks by settlers, who used drones to harass villagers and destroyed or damaged water cisterns, solar panels, cars, and homes.
The Israeli settlements, home to some 500,000 Israelis, are concentrated in the 60% of the West Bank that is administered directly by Israeli authorities. This has led to a complex and volatile situation, with settlers claiming a historical right to the land and Palestinians insisting on their right to land they and their ancestors have inhabited for decades.
The situation in the West Bank is a stark reminder of the complexities and challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the violence escalates and the displacement of Palestinians continues, the prospects for peace seem increasingly elusive. The international community must grapple with these realities as it seeks to broker a lasting solution.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal.