The other mass displacement

Nearly 2,000 Palestinians displaced amid settler violence since 2022; 43% since 7 October 2023

Shortly after armed Israeli settlers threatened to kill them if they did not leave, 24 Palestinian households totaling 141 people, half of whom are children, were displaced from Khirbat Zanuta in the southern West Bank. On 28 October 2023, the families dismantled about 50 residential and animal structures and vacated the area with their 5,000 livestock. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has previously documented settler attacks in this community, most recently on 12, 21 and 26 October. About two thirds of the families that comprised this community are now displaced. 

“On 26 October, settlers attacked us, destroying our homes, water tanks, solar panels, and cars,” said 43-year-old Abu Khaled from Khirbet Zanuta. “I felt the presence of death so tangibly as if I saw it with my own eyes. I was torn between staying in or leaving the place I love, where I belong, where I may die. On 28 October, I made the hardest decision in my life: to leave Zanuta and leave everything behind, as memories. I did this to protect my children.”

These experiences are not unique to Khirbat Zanuta. In 15 herding communities across the West Bank, at least 98 households comprising 828 people, including 313 children, have been displaced amid settler violence or increased movement restrictions since 7 October. That was the day of Hamas’ attack in Israel, where Palestinians from Gaza killed an estimated 1,400 people, injuring others and taking hostages. Since then, Israeli settler violence has increased significantly, from an already high average of three incidents per day thus far in 2023 to a current average of seven per day.

In this period, OCHA has recorded 171 settler attacks against Palestinians, resulting in Palestinian casualties (26 incidents), damage to Palestinian properties (115 incidents), or both (30 incidents). Cases of harassment, trespass, and intimidation are not included in these statistics when they do not result in damage or casualties, although they too increase the pressure on Palestinians to leave.

Palestinians being displaced amid death threats made by Israeli settlers in Nablus area. Photo by OCHA, October 2023

On 9 October, forty people were displaced from the herding community of Al Ganoub. Armed Israeli settlers had raided the community, threatening residents at gunpoint, saying they would kill them if they did not leave within an hour. Abu Jamal, 75, is one of those who were displaced. “Settlers set fire to our tent and stole my goats,” he told us. “They destroyed everything that had kept me here.” Another residential structure was also set on fire during this incident.

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