Israeli Soldiers Assault Activists near Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, February 8, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers assaulted on Sunday a number of Palestinian activists upon attempting to enter an illegal settlement outpost near Bethlehem, according to local sources.

Mohammad Mehesen, coordinator of the People’s Anti-Settlement Committees in Bethlehem, said a group of activists were trying to defy the Israeli soldiers through peaceful popular resistance and enter the illegal outpost of Sde Boaz when the soldiers assaulted them and beat them up.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said that, “Since 1967 Israel has established over a hundred settlements in the West Bank. There are dozens more settlement outposts that are not officially recognized by the Israeli authorities.”

The center said these settlements were established on vast tracts of land taken from the Palestinians, in breach of international humanitarian law.

“The very existence of the settlements violates Palestinian human rights, including the right to property, equality, a decent standard of living and freedom of movement,” says B’Tselem.

The settler population in the West Bank and Jerusalem is estimated to be around 531,000, of whom 341,400 live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and 190,423 individuals live in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

B’Tselem adds, “Israel’s dramatic alteration of the West Bank map has precluded realization of Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable Palestinian state.”

Settlement activities and Israeli settlers of the West Bank and Jerusalem are considered illegal in international law.

Al-Haq human right organization stated that, “Attacks by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank against members of the Palestinian population and their property are an extensive, long-term, and worsening phenomenon.”

Israeli settlements are in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which establishes that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Al-Haq said that, “The illegal Israeli settlement policy of transferring Israeli civilians into occupied territory is directly responsible for creating a hostile environment that puts civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, in harm’s way.”