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Forced evictions plague West Bank amidst Gaza conflict

Taybeh, 30 October, 2023 (GNP): The Gaza conflict, which began on October 7, has had far-reaching consequences, particularly in the occupied West Bank.

Troubling incidents are unfolding in the Bedouin village of Wadi al-Seeq, located in the West Bank, where approximately 200 residents are forcibly evacuated from their homes within an hour.

On October 12, just five days after the commencement of Israeli hostilities against Gaza, dozens of Israelis arrived at Wadi al-Seeq. These included settlers, soldiers, and police, and gave the villagers only one hour to vacate their land.

Some of these Israelis were local settlers donned in army uniforms, who have previously harassed the village. Others were dressed in civilian clothing. Army and police vehicles were also present at the scene.

The Israeli army has not provided immediate comments on this incident, despite multiple requests from a renowned news agency AFP. This event is seen as a part of a larger wave of violence that has gripped the West Bank since the Gaza war erupted.

The West Bank has been under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967, and more than 110 Palestinians have lost their lives in clashes with soldiers or settlers since the onset of the hostilities in Gaza.

Abu Bashar, a village leader from Wadi al-Seeq, explained that they are now enduring the consequences of what transpired. The residents, mostly Palestinian herders, have fled their village and sought refuge on private land in Taybeh, located slightly north of their original location.

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The West Bank is home to approximately three million Palestinians and is interspersed with Jewish settlements that are considered illegal under international law. These settlements accommodate around 490,000 Israelis.

Disturbingly, settler attacks against Palestinians have more than doubled since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict, increasing from an average of three to eight incidents daily, as reported by the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

These incidents include acts of intimidation, theft, and assault. Palestinians living in areas like Muarrajat, a Bedouin village located between Ramallah and Jericho, are now living in fear that their village might be the next target.

Alia Mlihat, a resident of Muarrajat, expressed her concerns, stating, “With the war, we’re seeing the settlers have more weapons; it’s very difficult. We’re living through a new Nakba because of settlers and the army.” The term “Nakba” is used to describe the catastrophe that occurred in 1948 when around 760,000 Palestinians were either expelled or fled from their homes during the war that led to the creation of Israel.

The situation in the West Bank remains tense, with Palestinian communities facing eviction, violence, and uncertainty.