Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Violence against Palestinians

Comprehensively covers the violence against Palestinians in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, its practice, impact on Palestinian rights, and reports from human rights organisations.

a man detained in the street
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against the Israeli settlement expansion in the village of Jbara, south of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, on September 1, 2020.

Editorial Note

Violence against Palestinians, as practiced by Israel, has gained increasing global attention. This section is part of our Human Rights & International Law coverage within the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

Violence against Palestinians

The Palestinian population across Palestine often experiences violence at the hands of governing authorities. In addition, they face violence exerted by Jewish settlers, often with impunity as occupying forces — the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) or the Israeli police — look on.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) noticed an uptick in settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, documenting 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians in 2020. During the first three months of 2021 alone, UNOCHA recorded more than 210 incidents of settler violence, including one Palestinian casualty.

These attacks are mostly to intimidate Palestinians and are motivated by settler ambitions to take over the land, which can deter Palestinians from accessing and working on their land, causing damage to assets that aid their livelihood. Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din noted an overwhelming lack of intervention from the authorities, with 91 percent of investigated cases of such crimes during 2005-2019 closed without an indictment.

Palestinian Injuries Due to Settler-related Violence:

Palestinian injuries due to settler-related violence in the West Bank as of 24 November 2021. Source: OCHA

Violence is especially seen each year during the olive harvest — an economically significant time of year for Palestinians. Even when the number of incidents dropped, the scale of violence appeared greater, with theft, vandalism, threats, hold-ups, and violent attacks defining this period. Soldiers used block-gates in the separation barrier so Palestinians could not access their farmland, as well as extensive beatings, and firing of teargas/stun grenades at farmers.

At other times of the year, the Israeli military and police also used unnecessary and excessive force against Palestinians. In an annual report, Amnesty International noted that the military and security forces killed at least 31 Palestinians, including nine children in 2020, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

However, the PA has also been guilty of brutal and excessive crackdowns on those opposing its actions. For instance, in June and July 2021, peaceful protests following the death in custody of prominent Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, escalated after police and Fatah loyalists carried out physical assaults on demonstrators, particularly targeting journalists and human rights activists documenting the protests.

According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas in the Gaza Strip also routinely arrests and tortures peaceful critics and opponents. The ruling organisation sometimes holds detainees for mere hours but within that time has abused its power by taunting detainees, aiming threats against them, beating and torturing them as a punishment for and deterrent against criticising the government.

These abuses have left few places where Palestinians can avoid derogation of their rights.

Human Rights & Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

This article is part of our Human Rights & International Law coverage within the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

The Human Rights & International Law dossier on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict meticulously documents the conflict, covering a wide range of topics, including treaties, human rights violations, policies that contravene international law, and more.

Fanack Water Palestine