The Escalating Situation in the West Bank

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: While Israel fights Hamas in Gaza, violence by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank has risen to unprecedented levels.

Catch up: Before October 7, violence in the West Bank was already the worst it had been since the early 2000s. Shootings by Palestinian terrorists became regular. The Israeli military would regularly conduct raids to thwart future attacks, which often made tensions worse.

  • Then: Jews on the extreme end of the settler movement responded to terror attacks against Israeli troops and civilians with attacks of their own that included setting fire to Palestinian homes and cars and even killing a civilian.

  • Price tag: These “price tag” attacks involve setting fire to homes and cars, which have resulted in loss of life on rare occasions.

Now: Since Hamas’s October 7 terror attack, there have been numerous reports of attacks by Jewish settlers who specifically intend to kill Palestinians. Eight Palestinians have been killed by settlers — including two during an ambush that reportedly took place during a funeral.

  • Not just physical attacks: Threats of attacks and forced displacement have occurred as well. It amounts to a type of physiological warfare against innocents that has led some to flee.

The reaction: The IDF says it is investigating the killings. President Joe Biden remarked, “They’re attacking Palestinians in places they’re entitled to be. It has to stop now.”

What’s next: It remains to be seen if the Israeli police or army will take additional steps to prevent violent situations and punish perpetrators for deterrence. If they don’t, conditions will continue to deteriorate.