How Radical West Bank Settlers Are Driving Palestinians Out

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With Israel and the rest of the world looking at Gaza, radical Jewish settlers are attacking Palestinians in the occupied territories of the West Bank. Since the Hamas massacre, reports indicate that hundreds of Palestinians have been pushed off their land.
By Thore Schröder and Lucas Barioulet (Photos) in the West Bank

Bedouin shepherd Abu Bashar: “I’m 48 years old and I’ve lost everything: my land and my dignity.”

 Foto: Lucas Barioulet / DER SPIEGEL

When Abu Bashar heard about the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, he was certain that it would also affect him in some way. Not directly, not immediately. But it was inevitable, he says.

And he was right. A few days later, armed Jewish settlers drove the 48-year-old Bedouin, whose given name is Abdulrahman Kaabani, along with his wife and seven children, off his land.


Until October 12, 40 families had lived in a collection of corrugated metal shacks on reddish-brown earth in the northeastern corner of the Palestinian Territories. The land slopes steeply down to the Jordan River in the valley below, where the terrain is crisscrossed by narrow wadis. It’s a beautiful, barren desert landscape that is bone dry aside from a few weeks each year. Life here has never been easy for those who call the place home.


The village had been under acute threat since February. Abu Bashar says that he and the other shepherds began having problems feeding their goats and sheep after radical Jewish settlers established an outpost nearby. They arrived here just a few weeks after the Israeli government named right-wing extremist settler Itamar Ben-Gvir national security minister.

For years, the Palestinian shepherds had been having difficulties feeding their herds. But after the settlers showed up, says Abu Bashar, they took the step of fencing off the springs. Israeli human rights activists confirm his account, sending photos of a spring surrounded by a barrier. They also say that they, too, have become the target of violence from radical settlers, reporting beatings and threats with firearms.

The view from Wadi al-Siq: It's always been hard for residents to make a living here.

The view from Wadi al-Siq: It’s always been hard for residents to make a living here.

 Foto: Lucas Barioulet / DER SPIEGEL

Activist Guy Hirschfeld refers to Israel settlers as "Jewish terrorists."

Activist Guy Hirschfeld refers to Israel settlers as “Jewish terrorists.”

 Foto: Lucas Barioulet / DER SPIEGEL

And then came October 7, when Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 1,400 Israelis, the vast majority of them civilians. The radical Islamists abducted another 240 Israelis and hauled them into the Gaza Strip as hostages. With Israel’s full attention on the victims of the Hamas atrocities and the military operation in Gaza, settlers embarked on achieving a long-cherished aim of theirs: They want to completely remove all Palestinians from certain parts of the West Bank, says Guy Hirschfeld of the anti-occupation Israeli organization Looking the Occupation in the Eye. He refers to the settlers as “Jewish terrorists.”


Through last Sunday, the human rights group Yesh Din had recorded 100 separate incidents in 62 different places. The group says that 114 Palestinians have been killed since October 7. Most of those were killed in Israeli military operations, they say, though six deaths came at the hands of settlers, who they claim have faced no legal consequences. According to the West Bank Protection Consortium, a coalition of NGOs and donor countries in addition to the European Union, hundreds of Palestinians have been driven off their land since October 7. The NGO B’Tselem has documented the displacement of at least eight entire communities.

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Disclaimer: How Radical West Bank Settlers Are Driving Palestinians Out - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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