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WCLAC submission to the UN on settler violence

[2 September 2015] – Today, WCLAC lodged a submission with two UN Special Rapporteurs providing an update on the situation on the ground relating to the impact of settler violence on women in the West Bank. This follows the publication of a UN report on Israeli settlement activity in January 2013 (UN Report) which found, inter alia, that the establishment of the settlements has fragmented the West Bank placing at risk the possibility of a Palestinian State, and by implication, a viable two state solution – a stated policy goal of the US, EU and UN. 

WCLAC’s submission notes that as of mid-2015: 
  • There are approximately 585,000 Israeli settlers residing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank representing an increase of 65,000 (12.5 per cent) since the publication of the UN Report; 
  • By 2016 the number of settlers will exceed 600,000, making the widely stated goal of a two-state solution increasingly improbable. Sixty thousand of the settlers in the West Bank are US citizens; 
  • Housing starts in the settlements are projected to jump 68 per cent in 2015; 
  • Although settler attacks are projected to be down in 2015, so called “price-tag” attacks are on the rise; and 
  • According to a recent report the chance that a complaint submitted to the Israel Police by a Palestinian victim of settler violence will lead to an effective investigation, the location of a suspect, prosecution, and ultimate conviction is just 1.9 per cent. 
In support of the submission, WCLAC has highlighted the individual cases of five women who experienced attacks by settlers in 2015. Two cases documented by WCLAC in March bear a chilling similarity to the attack in the village in Duma in July which resulted in an infant being burnt to death after his house was firebombed. The infant’s father later died of his injuries in hospital.
 
The submission also highlights the link between the settlements and night raids conducted by the Israeli military on Palestinian homes. It is conservatively estimated that the Israeli military is currently conducting nearly 1,400 night raids on Palestinian communities each year, which equates to over 65,000 night raids since Israeli martial law was imposed on the West Bank in June 1967. The submission concludes that this mass intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population by the military is an essential element in maintaining Israel’s settlement project in occupied territory.
 
The submission concludes that the failure of the political process to resolve the conflict increases the prospects of a formal investigation being initiated into Israel’s settlement policies by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court following Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute earlier in the year. 
 
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keyword: Violence against women