Palestinians are coming under increasing fire as Israeli settler violence in the West Bank continues to rise

When the telegram arrived, Abed Wadi was in the process of getting prepared for the funeral.

It was a photograph of a bunch of masked individuals posing with axes, a petrol canister, and a chainsaw, with writing printed on the image in Hebrew and Arabic. The image was provided to him by a friend.

“To all the rats in the sewers of Qusra village, we are waiting for you and we will not mourn you,” according to the narrative.

“The day of revenge is coming.”

In the upper section of the West Bank, close to Nablus, was located the town of Qusra, which belonged to Wadi. On that day, the funeral was held for four Palestinians who lived in the village. Israeli settlers broke into Qusra the day before, on October 11, and attacked a Palestinian family home, resulting in the deaths of three people.

The fourth Palestinian was killed by gunfire from Israeli troops during the subsequent conflict.

The inhabitants of Qusra were getting ready to head to a hospital about half an hour away the day after the incident, with the intention of bringing back the bodies of those who had passed away. In order to accomplish this goal, they would have to go across territory that is strewn with Israeli settlements. The likelihood of encountering violent crime in these areas, which was already elevated under normal circumstances, has multiplied considerably in the two weeks since Israel began its conflict with Hamas.

Wadi set down his phone and continued the process of dressing himself. It was necessary to transport the four men who were being kept cold in the hospital’s refrigerators back to their homes. According to what he claimed, he was not going to let a threat stop him. He could no longer count them all.

Wadi had no way of knowing that, in a few hours’ time, extremist Israeli settlers would challenge the burial procession, and that his own brother and his little nephew would be killed by gunfire during the confrontation.

“If we had delayed one or even two days, what good would it have done?” Wadi mentioned this when he was relaxing in the cool shadow of the Qusra family home’s inside patio.

“Do you think that the settlers would have left this place on the second day?”

According to the UN’s office for humanitarian affairs, the week that followed Hamas’s murderous attack was the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank since it began reporting fatalities in 2005. At least 75 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military or settlers, and incidents of settler violence increased from an average of three a day to eight. This was the deadliest week for Palestinians in the West Bank since it began reporting fatalities in 2005.

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli soldiers murdered at least 12 individuals in a single raid on a Palestinian refugee camp and in a rare air strike in the region on Thursday, the 12th. Israeli police confirmed that one of their officers was among those who died in the attack.

According to statements made by the United Nations this week, there was “a real risk” of the seized territory “spiraling out of control.”

According to Palestinians living in the West Bank, Israeli settlers are taking advantage of the fact that the attention of the world is currently focused on the mounting catastrophe in Gaza by entering Palestinian towns, driving out Palestinian citizens, and even sacrificing their lives.

According to video footage or the testimonies of villagers who were there, at least three instances have occurred in which the settlers who carried out the attacks were either dressed in military uniforms or were escorted by members of the Israeli military.

According to numerous residents who spoke to the BBC, the first three men to be killed in Qusra were on their way to defend a family who lived in a house on the outskirts of the hamlet when they saw settlers approaching the house and beginning to throw rocks at it.

They claim that the settlers then opened fire on the Palestinian neighbors who had come to help, resulting in the deaths of three young men (Hasan Abu Sorour, 16, Obayda Abu Sorour, 17, and Musab Abu Reda, 25) and the serious injury of several more. Later on, during the fighting with the military, Moath Odeh, age 21, was shot and died.

According to two people who received the dead and wounded at a nearby medical facility, among the wounded was a man and his daughter, who resided at the residence. The father and his daughter, who was six years old, were both shot in the face, and the daughter was shot in the abdomen. Both were hit by gunfire.

Amer Odeh, another cousin of the victims, was one of the people who volunteered to help out at the clinic. Amer was the one who made the call to Said Odeh, Obayda’s father. Obayda is 17 years old.

In an interview that took place on Tuesday in Qusra, Amer added, alongside added’s participation, “I told him, your son is lightly injured.” “I could not give him this shock over the phone.”

Said hurried to get to the hospital as soon as possible. “They told me that my son was injured but there was no way for me to see him at that moment,” he remembered, with tears welling up in his eyes as he spoke. “There was no way for me to see him at that moment.”

“I told them I wanted to see my son now, and I entered that room and I saw that by the grace of God he had been martyred.”

The funerals for the four people who had died were scheduled to take place the day after. Abed Wadi blocked off the picture of the masked guys armed with axes and chainsaws and joined the funeral convoy that was transporting the remains back to Qusra from the hospital.

The Israeli settlers laid in wait for the automobiles and ambulances as they made their way along the road that connects Nablus and Ramallah. They attacked the caravan. During the subsequent conflict, as evidenced by video footage and the testimonies of eyewitnesses, Israeli settlers assaulted the funeral convoy with stones. Some members of the funeral convoy threw stones back at the settlers, which prompted the Israeli settlers and troops to retaliate with live fire.

Abed Wadi lost track of his brother Ibrahim, a local official with the Fatah Movement who was 63 years old, and Ibrahim’s son Ahmed, who was 24 years old and a law student. This happened in the “chaos and heavy, random gunfire,” according to Abed Wadi. It would appear from the video evidence that a portion of the altercation shows Ahmed and other individuals attempting to flee the gunfire before Ahmed is struck and killed by bullets while he is on the road.

“They told me my nephew was shot twice in his stomach and once in his neck, and my brother was shot in his waist, towards his heart,” according to Wadi.

“There were no weapons in our funeral convoy,” according to him. “Usually we would fly the Palestinian flag from the cars but we did not even fly our flag, because of the fear.”

This Monday, residents of Qusra were quoted by the BBC as saying that terror has spread throughout the community. Olive season in the region started the previous weekend, but locals who rely on the harvest for their income have stated that they will not go to the groves that are located on the outside of the hamlet because they are afraid that settlers will shoot at them.

According to data provided by the United Nations, there had already been a large increase in violent acts committed by Israeli settlers this year, even before the attack carried out by Hamas. More than one hundred instances were reported each month, and over four hundred persons were forced off their land between January and August.

Since the incident, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem told the BBC that it has documented “a concerted and organised effort by settlers to use the fact that the entire international and local attention is focused on Gaza and the north of Israel to try to seize land in the West Bank.” This statement was made in response to the attack.

According to some of the data that was produced by B’Tselem, in the first six days after the attack carried out by Hamas, settlers in the West Bank were responsible for at least 46 individual events in which they intimidated, physically attacked, or damaged the property of Palestinians.

“A lot of shepherding families and communities have fled because they were threatened in the past week by settlers,” said Roy Yellin, a spokesman for the organization B’Tselem. Residents have been given a deadline by settlers to vacate the area, and the settlers have warned them that they will be hurt if they do not comply. And there have been other settlements that have been completely deserted.”

One of these settlements was Wadi al-Siq, which is located close to Ramallah and was formerly home to a community of approximately 200 Palestinian Bedouins. Abdul Rahman Kaabna, 48, a farmer from Wadi al-Siq, stated that since the start of the conflict, there has been a rise in the number of attacks. “For months, we have been facing harassment and attacks from settlers day and night, but since the start of the war, the attacks have increased.”

According to three former residents who have since fled the area, on October 9th, a party of roughly sixty colonists, many of whom were outfitted in military garb, invaded the settlement. “They attacked us with weapons and terrified everyone,” according to Kaabna. “Then they gave us one hour to go out with our sheep and threatened us to death if we didn’t leave.”

Ali Arara, 35, another resident, stated that in order to flee the area, the people had to walk more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). “The settlers stole everything from our homes,” according to him. “My daughter was in a state of extreme fear. They humiliated us and then abandoned us with nothing.

Since October 7th, the intimidation and forced displacement that was reported in Wadi al-Siq has been repeated in communities all across the territory, as stated by B’Tselem and Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group that monitors the violence in the West Bank.

An Israeli settler approached a Palestinian town called Al-Tuwani near Hebron and shot an unarmed Palestinian civilian in the stomach at point blank range. The incident was one of the most terrible to be captured on tape in the past week. An Israeli soldier appeared to look on.

According to three people of the area, including the homeowner, the event started when two armed settlers and a soldier stormed a home on the outskirts of the hamlet. The settlers were accompanied by the soldier.

“Three Israelis came to my house, they were armed, and one was wearing the uniform of the army,” said Musab Rabai, 36.

“One of the settlers came into the house, pushed me and beat me on the head with the gun and told me he was going to shoot me.”

According to him, neighbors came to Rabai’s aid when she yelled for assistance. One of them was Zakriha Adra, a family man who had four children. The clip was shot by Adra’s cousin Basel, and it shows the settler who is said to have beaten Rabai, as well as the Israeli soldier, standing a short distance away from the group of Palestinian neighbors. Adra is then unexpectedly confronted by the armed settler, who strikes him with his weapon and shoots him in the stomach from a short distance away.

Throughout the interaction, it seems as though Adra kept his arms by his sides in a non-threatening manner by holding them by his sides.

The family reports that Adra is currently in the hospital and is in a critical state. “He survived but the bullet has done a lot of damage inside his stomach,” said Basel, who is his cousin. “He is in a lot of pain right now.”

Musab Rabai, whose home was targeted in the shooting, stated that the incident was the climax of several days’ worth of threatening behavior and destruction of property on the part of the settlers.

“Since Saturday they have been standing around the village armed with guns and using a bulldozer to destroy trees,” stated the reporter. “The men here in the village have been sleeping in shifts, only a few hours each, so there is always someone awake in case the settlers attack.”

The Yesha Council, an umbrella organization representing settlers in the West Bank and elsewhere, was invited by the BBC to comment for this story but they rejected. Moti Yogev, the acting leader of the Binyamin Council, which also represents settlers in the region, stated that violent settlers “belonged to the fringes” of the settler community. This statement was made by Moti Yogev. “If they do exist, they should be dealt with like any other criminal,” stated the politician.

There were repeated requests for comments, but neither the Israeli military nor the Israeli police force responded to any of them.

“The most tragic thing is that the violence by these extreme settlers does not produce any response from the Israeli military,” said Dov Khenin, a former Israeli politician turned peace activist in the Middle East. “And the violence has its own purpose, to get rid of these small Palestinian communities, to eject them from their homes.”

Many Palestinians currently live in constant worry that the current situation in the West Bank would only deteriorate worse. Itar Ben Gvir, Israel’s Minister of National Security, made the announcement a week ago that the Israeli government would buy 10,000 rifles to arm Israeli civilians, including those living in West Bank settlements. This move threatens to further blur the lines between armed settlers and members of the military in the occupied territory.

Abed Wadi stated that he was aware of the news regarding the 10,000 guns while at Qusra. He appeared to be confused. “It won’t change anything for the people of Qusra,” according to him.

Wadi was sitting in his courtyard when he noticed that there were posters all around him with the images of his brother, his nephew, and the four other men from the hamlet who had been murdered the previous week.

“We have always seen the rifle in the hands of the settlers, they have been shooting at us for a long time,” according to him.

But, as he explained it, something had shifted. It appeared as though the settlers had become more belligerent and extremist in their outlook. “Farm houses are being burned, olive trees cut down, cars broken into, land is being stolen,” according to Wadi.

“And keep in mind that this is only our village. He remarked that if you were to look to the next village and the next village after that, you would see wrath and grief in every single one of them. “And you would see no end to it.”

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