West Bank village left feeling helpless after Israeli settlers launch fire and bullet attack

The chairman of Duma’s village council, Suleiman Dawabsha, lamented the village’s inability to defend itself against such attacks, citing the lack of resources and power to withstand future incursions.

The estimated financial cost of the damage inflicted during the assault underscores the economic strain imposed on the already marginalized community.

The cycle of violence and destruction perpetuated by such incidents further deepens the sense of insecurity and helplessness among the residents of Duma.

The history of violence in Duma is not new, with echoes of a tragic event from 2015 resurfacing in the recent attack.

The loss of lives and destruction caused by settler aggression has left lasting scars on the community, exacerbating existing tensions and grievances.

The interconnected nature of violence in the region, fueled by retaliatory actions and unresolved conflicts, only serves to perpetuate a cycle of bloodshed and suffering.

The recent wave of settler violence in Duma was triggered by the death of a 14-year-old Israeli boy, leading to a spate of retaliatory attacks and killings.

The complexities of the conflict, intertwined with issues of identity, land rights, and historical grievances, create a volatile environment where peace and stability remain elusive.

The tragic loss of lives on both sides of the divide underscores the urgent need for dialogue, reconciliation, and a concerted effort to address the root causes of violence.

The ongoing conflict in the West Bank between Israeli settlers and Palestinians has reached a boiling point, with violence escalating on both sides.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 794 settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since Oct. 7, ranging from stones thrown at passing cars to bullets fired at residents.

At least 10 Palestinians have been killed by settlers in these attacks. Additionally, since the war in Gaza began, nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the territory, according to the Health Ministry based in Ramallah, which says the overwhelming majority have been shot dead by soldiers.

Palestinians in the West Bank have killed nine Israelis, including five soldiers, since Oct. 7, according to U.N. data.

The war has undoubtedly heightened tensions between settlers and Palestinians. However, Israeli human rights groups blame the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fueling settler violence by promoting an ideology of total Israeli supremacy in the West Bank.

These groups say the Israeli army doesn’t do enough to stop the violence, and even facilitates it in some cases by offering the settlers protection.

The Israeli army said in a statement it tries to protect everyone living in the West Bank and that complaints about soldiers are investigated.

The attack on Duma, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, is a stark example of the violence that has been occurring. No one was killed in the attack, but residents described narrow escapes.

Ibrahim Dawabsha, a truck driver and father of four, said most of his family hid in the kitchen as settlers launched firebombs and set part of their home ablaze. “My daughter was at her uncle’s house, there was no one there,” he said. “What they (might) do to her I don’t know.”

The United States has increased pressure on Israel to curb settler attacks in the West Bank, sanctioning some leaders, including a close ally of Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

However, Dawabsha, the chief of Duma, does not believe the pressure campaign will be effective. “I am not pinning my hopes on the American government,” he said.

The conflict in the West Bank is rooted in the Israeli occupation of the territory, which began in 1967 after the Six-Day War.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the war, territories Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Settlers claim the West Bank, home to some 3 million Palestinians, is their biblical birthright. Around 500,000 Israeli settlers live across hundreds of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

These segregated and tightly guarded communities vary in size and nature. Larger settlements are akin to Jerusalem’s sprawling suburbs, while smaller unauthorized outposts can consist of just a few caravans parked on a hilltop.

Outposts often receive tacit government support and sometimes they gain formal recognition — and receive funding — from the Israeli government.

Duma’s geography makes it uniquely vulnerable to attack. Overlooking Jordan and Israeli settlements to the east, the village is surrounded more closely by at least three outposts that the head of its council says have expanded gradually over the past decade.

Duma is in a section of the West Bank known as Area B: Its civil affairs are governed by the Palestinian Authority, but the Israeli military is in charge of its security.

Palestinians largely consider the PA to be ineffective and corrupt, and it rarely opposes Israel’s military operations in the territory.

In the days following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, more than 100 Bedouin Arabs that were living a nomadic lifestyle in the pastures south of Duma relocated to its fringes in search of greater safety and resources.

One of them, Ali Zawahiri, said his extended family relocated after settlers had begun burning their tents and stealing their livestock.

The situation in the West Bank is complex and deeply entrenched, with both sides feeling justified in their actions. However, it is clear that the violence must stop and a peaceful resolution must be found.

The international community, including the United States, must continue to pressure Israel to curb settler attacks and work towards a two-state solution that will provide security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.