By: Ahmed Abu Artema
On August 4, 2023, the village of Burqa, east of Ramallah, became the epicenter of an egregious act of violence. Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation army, killed a Palestinian boy named Qusai Ma’tan. The attack also resulted in the destruction of Palestinian property, including the burning of two cars. The incident in Burqa was not an isolated affair but emblematic of a broader and deeply concerning trend.
Earlier this year, in February, another alarming incident transpired in the village of Hawara, where Israeli settlers attacked, leading to the burning of dozens of Palestinian homes and cars. The death of Sameh Aktash and the wounding of 100 Palestinians underscored the relentless and escalating nature of settler-initiated aggression.
The Israeli institutional response to these events has been equally disconcerting. Israeli security forces did arrest a group of settlers for interrogation, but the expedited release of one of them, Elisha Yared, following the intervention of Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, raises serious questions about the integrity of the legal process.
Furthermore, the reduction of charges against settler Yechiel Indore, the primary suspect in Qusai Ma’tan’s killing, from “racially motivated murder” to lesser charges, highlights an apparent bias in the Israeli legal system.
Israel’s portrayal of itself as a state of law that interrogates settlers accused of crimes is increasingly difficult to reconcile with documented facts. The protection afforded by the Israeli military to settler attacks and discernible bias in court procedures in favor of Jews lays bare a contradiction that challenges the foundational principles of justice.
The influential roles of settlers such as Bitzelal Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir within the government further illustrate the interconnected relationship between settler communities and formal Israeli authorities.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem’s report, titled “Settler Violence = State Violence,” published in November 2021, provides an incisive examination of the phenomenon. It reveals how West Bank settlements dominate vast areas, restricting Palestinian access, and how state-sanctioned methods and settler-initiated violence work in tandem to further an agenda.
Settler violence is not a disconnected series of incidents but rather part of a coordinated strategy employed by Israel’s regime. The state’s active support, assistance, and sometimes direct participation in these acts of violence underscore the systemic nature of this problem. It transcends individual incidents and points to a governmental policy that aids and legitimizes a grim reality.
The recent spate of settler violence, coupled with state complicity and judicial leniency, highlights a critical issue that transcends regional concerns. It calls for comprehensive international attention, condemnation, and intervention. These are not isolated events but manifestations of a systemic strategy that threatens the very fabric of peace, justice, and human dignity in the region. A concerted global effort is required to address this disconcerting pattern, to ensure that the rule of law is upheld, and that the rights of all individuals are protected without bias or favor.