In Brief: Israeli officials express concern over rise in settler crimes

Israeli police in Lod. Credit: Israel Police, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Israeli defence officials have expressed concern over a dramatic rise in hate crimes and violence by Jewish nationalists in the past two years. Most of the perpetrators appear to be West Bank settlers.

Ynet news found that hate crimes increased significantly in 2020 compared with 2019, with a spike that began after the death of Ahuvia Sandak near Jerusalem in December 2020.

Sandak, 16, died in a vehicle crash while trying to flee from police officers attempting to detain him and a number of other settler youths for allegedly throwing rocks at Palestinians.

Following the crash, violent protests broke out across the West Bank, with settlers hurling stones at security forces.

Over the past few weeks, violent attacks on Palestinian farms and IDF troops have increased, coinciding with the start of the West Bank olive harvest.

Last week, settlers attacked Israeli troops near Yitzhar near Nablus, while two officers were sprayed with tear gas by settlers in a separate incident.

According to the defence ministry, there were 507 alleged hate crime incidents in 2020, followed by 416 in the first six months of 2021 – double the number reported for the same period in the previous year.

A defence official told Ynet: “We see dozens of incidents each month and since the start of the olive harvest, we observe crimes ranging from damage to olive groves, setting fire to property, and physical altercations”.