UN warns 250,000 Palestinians 'vulnerable' to settler violence
New report: Settlers may employ a "price tag policy" in response to terror attacks or settlement evacuation.
A report released by the United Nations last year says settlers angered over the destruction of outposts could exact revenge on 250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank.
The report, by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, claims settlers may employ the so-called price tag policy, by which they exact a "price" from Palestinians in response to terror attacks or Israel Defense Force actions to evacuate unauthorized outposts, placing Palestinians from 83 villages in harm's way. The UN report was drafted in November and distributed to the organization's mailing list in response to a rise in such incidents in reaction to the Israeli government's decision to freeze construction in the settlements.
According to the report, if Israel takes significant action against the outposts, around 250,000 Palestinians in 83 West Bank communities will be "highly or moderately vulnerable" to settler violence.
Of these, 75,900 people concentrated in 22 communities - six in the northern West Bank, three in the center and 13 in the south - are considered highly vulnerable.
The report also specifies risky junctions and road segments. These include the roads surrounding Nablus that are used by both Israelis and Palestinians; the Wadi Kana road; the Qalqilyah-Nablus road, which passes through the Karnei Shomron settlement; the eastern Gush Etzion road; the road near Bat Ayin, and the main road to the south Hebron hills.
In addition, the report identifies a number of settlements it says pose a particular risk to nearby Palestinian communities: Havat Gilad, Kedumim, Itamar, Yitzhar, Ma'aleh Levona, Shilo, Adei Ad, Nokdim, Bat Ayin, Neguhot, Kiryat Arba, Beit Haggai, Karmel and Sussia. The report also details a few serious "price tag" incidents carried out in the past 18 months.
"The concern about the possible outbreak of waves of settler violence and their impact on the Palestinian population stems ... from the inadequate level of law enforcement by the Israeli authorities," the report's authors write. "[T]he main concern is the frequent failure of the Israeli security forces to intervene and stop settler attacks in real time, including the failure to arrest suspected settlers on the spot."
"Among the main reasons behind this failure is the ambiguous message delivered by the Government of Israel and the IDF top officials to the security forces in the field regarding their authority and responsibility to enforce the law on Israeli settlers," the report continues.
The IDF rejected the claims and officials noted that the report also recognized the army's extensive efforts in recent years to allow Palestinians to harvest their olive crops.
GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi last month issued an order that made it clear that civilian security coordinators' authority also extends under some circumstances to nearby illegal outposts, an order that provoked anger from some West Bank settlers.
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