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ConflictsMiddle East

Palestinians face increasing violence from Israeli settlers

Tania Krämer
May 22, 2024

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinians and Israeli settlers live in close proximity. Since the war in Gaza began, violent settler attacks have been on the rise, and locals say international sanctions aren't working. DW's Tania Krämer reports.


[Video transcript]

Violent Israeli settlers make their way to the village of As-Sawiya in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Scenes that Anan Ahmed knows all too well. It happened again some weeks ago.

Anan Ahmed, resident: "Settlers came down the mountain from the settlement, frightening the children, we have small children at home. They throw stones. This last time they injured two people. My brother's wife was shot twice. Here and here. The situation is difficult." 

Palestinian villages such as As-Sawiya are almost surrounded by Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law. Violent settlers throw stones, destroy crops and olive trees, burn cars and property — and it has increased in recent months.  

Anan Ahmed, resident: "Of course we are afraid. We live on our land. This is my father's and grandfather's house. There is no safety. There are children, small children. This is forbidden. They come and destroy everything. Why? They cause the problems. There is no security ever." 

The violence recently turned deadly when a Palestinian volunteer paramedic was shot and killed while treating people injured by Israeli settlers. His colleague Bashar Qaryuti was at the scene. He tells us several shots hit their ambulance. Mohammed Musa was driving it when he was hit and killed.   

Bashar Qaryuti, volunteer paramedic, Palestinian Red Crescent Society: "We live through a difficult nightmare, facing tremendous suffering, but we are steadfast. We have seen many martyrs, many injuries. But what we faced with the targeting of our colleague was the most difficult in our years as medics."  

The question of whether a settler or a soldier fired the fatal shot remains unclear. The Israeli military (IDF) said in a statement at the time that they and the Border Police were called to disperse a riot.  

Quote IDF: "During the incident, an ambulance driver for the Palestine Red Crescent was killed. The Military Police have opened an investigation, and a command review into the circumstances of the incident is underway."  

Bashar says Palestinians feel they simply have no protection here. The IDF is often seen standing by or even accompanying settlers during intimidating and violent attacks. And Palestinian security forces are only allowed to operate in limited areas.   

He says international sanctions which have been imposed on some settlers have not helped.  

Bashar Qaryuti, volunteer paramedic, Palestinian Red Crescent Society: "The sanctions imposed by the US on those criminal settlers don't change much in reality. Settlers continue to attack, burn and destroy homes, and act violently towards the Palestinians. In reality, these steps have had no effect."  

Back in As-Sawiyya, Anan Ahmed says he fears most for his children, who are growing up in this atmosphere of violence.