Home News Israeli general condemns West Bank Jewish settler violence

Israeli general condemns West Bank Jewish settler violence

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Amid rising tensions between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and new moves by the Israeli government to expand its control over the region, an Israeli general on Monday delivered a scathing rebuke of government policies and denounced growing “nationalist crimes” by Jewish settlers.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, the outgoing head of Israel’s Central Command, which manages Israel’s military forces in the West Bank, said at his departure ceremony that a “strong and functioning” Palestinian Authority was in Israel’s security interest.

The general’s statement appeared to be a criticism of Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, himself a settler, who has been working to undermine the authority by withholding taxes Israel collects on its behalf in the roughly 40 percent of the West Bank it administers.

General Fox also expressed dismay at the rise in settler violence in the West Bank, where some 2.7 million Palestinians live and the Jewish settler population has grown to more than half a million. He said a minority of extremely violent settlers have been undermining Israel’s reputation internationally and spreading fear among Palestinians. “To me, this is not Judaism,” he said. “At least not the way I was taught in my parents’ home. This is not the teachings of the Torah.”

Israel seized control of the West Bank from Jordan in a war with three Arab states in 1967, and since then Israeli civilians have settled there with the government’s tacit approval and explicit approval, living under Israeli civil law while their Palestinian neighbors are subject to Israeli military law.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are widely considered illegal by the international community, and many of them are illegal under Israeli law, but the government tolerates them. Many of the settlements were initially illegal under Israeli law but have since been legalized by the government. Palestinians have long viewed the settlements as a form of creeping annexation that would turn the land needed for any independent Palestinian state into an unmanageable patchwork.

last year, UN report The October 7 attack sparked the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and in the weeks since, attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank have surged, killing at least 115 people, injuring more than 2,000 and forcing nearly 1,000 from their homes due to violence and intimidation by Israeli troops and settlers.

General Fox believes that intimidating Palestinians who live alongside Jews is “a dangerous mistake” and that the actions of violent Jewish settlers threaten Israel’s security.

But Smotrich has been outspoken in his desire for Israel to occupy all of the West Bank. Last month, he reached an agreement with ministers Free up some funds Last week, the Treasury Department released about $136 million in funds that the Palestinian Authority had withheld in exchange for the legalization of five additional Jewish outposts.

Smotrich posted on social media that day that he was working with the planning department to approve more than 5,000 new homes West Bank. “We are building a beautiful country and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he said.

Last month, an Israeli ministry approved the largest land expropriation in the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo Accords, seizing about five square miles of land in the Jordan Valley, according to Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors settler activity. This year, it occupied about nine square miles of territory.Peace Now says 2024 will be the year with the most grants yet.

Despite the defiant attitude of settlers and ministers, their activities have become a source of tension between Israel and other countries, including its ally the United States, at a time when Israel is increasingly isolated internationally for its war in Gaza.

“The settlement remains detrimental to a two-state solution. We do not support it,” John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, said at a press conference on Monday.

Johnson Rice Contributed reporting.

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