UK imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers who 'force' Palestinians off their land

UK imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers who ‘force’ Palestinians off their land

The UK has imposed sanctions on four Israeli nationals, saying they were “extremist settlers” who had violently attacked Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The measures impose strict financial and travel restrictions on the four people who Britain says are involved in “gross human rights violations”.

“Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs,” said British Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

“This behavior is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and end settler violence. Too often we see that commitments have been made, but not followed through.

The Foreign Ministry said settlers had committed acts of violence on an unprecedented scale in the West Bank over the past year.

In announcing the restrictions, the Foreign Ministry said “Israel’s inaction” had led to “an environment of almost total impunity for extremist settlers,” with violence in the West Bank reaching a record high in 2023.

The United States also imposed sanctions earlier this month on four Israelis it accuses of being involved in settler violence in the West Bank.

A Foreign Ministry statement said: “Two of the individuals named today – Moshe Sharvit and Yinon Levy – have, in recent months, resorted to physical assault, threatening families with the threat of arms and destroys property in a targeted and calculated action aimed at displacing Palestinian communities”.

An illegal outpost, set up by settler Zvi Bar Yosef, has been described by local Palestinian residents as a “source of systematic intimidation and violence”.

Sharvit has long been the subject of complaints from Palestinians and human rights organizations.

The founder of an authorized outpost in the Jordan Valley – known by locals as “Moshe Farm” – he has been accused of harassing Palestinian communities in the northern Jordan Valley for years.

Immediately after Hamas’ surprise attack on southern Israel last October, Mr. Sharvit was accused of issuing an ultimatum to residents of the village of Ein Shibli to leave, which he denied to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

In previous incidents, Sharvit was accused of arriving on scene – sometimes armed – and attacking Palestinians and human rights activists who accompanied him, incidents documented on video.

For his part, Yinon Levy, who established an outpost known as the Meitarim Farm in 2021, has been accused of playing a key role in the harassment of Palestinians in a number of communities in the southern hills of Israel. Hebron.

The four people were the subject of complaints by a group of Israeli human rights organizations that contacted several foreign governments and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, to demand sanctions against the settlers.

The complaint to Mr. Borrell against Mr. Sharvit, which the Guardian has seen, alleges: “Although we have filed countless letters and complaints with the Israeli army and police, the “Shavit’s post has not been evacuated and he is violently evicting, by himself or with the help of his accomplices, Palestinian shepherds and farmers from the lands where they have grazed and cultivated for generations.”

The sanctions come amid what has been described as an unprecedented land grab by radical Jewish settlers.

In the last year alone, 110,000 dunams – or 110 km2 – were annexed by settlers based in outposts using the type of tactics of which the sanctioned settlers are accused.

In September, the United Nations warned of rising settler violence targeting Palestinian herders and driving them from their homes and land.

“A total of 1,105 people from 28 communities – approximately 12% of their population – have been displaced from their places of residence since 2022, citing settler violence and the settlers’ denial of access to pastures as the reason. principal,” declared the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The head of the Yesha Settlers’ Council, Shlomo Naman, commented on the sanctions: “The sanctions imposed by Britain on four other residents, including a bereaved brother and another resident who fought valiantly in Gaza Currently, are insults that illustrate what we are going through.

“We call on the Israeli Prime Minister to work with the United States and the United Kingdom to reverse these illusory sanctions. ”

The sanctions were announced as Lord Cameron said Israel should “stop and think seriously” before taking further action in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

The city was hit by airstrikes overnight as Israel announced its intention to carry out a ground offensive in the area.

Mr Cameron said many Rafah residents had already fled other areas and said it was “impossible to see how you can wage a war among these people because they have nowhere to go”.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah was “very worrying”.

Speaking to reporters in East Kilbride, Scotland, Mr Cameron said: “We are very concerned about what is happening in Rafah because, let us be clear, the People who are there have often moved four, five or six times before arriving there.

“We think it’s really impossible to see how you can wage a war among these people, because they have nowhere to go.

“They cannot go to the south of Egypt, they cannot go to the north and return to their homes because many have been destroyed.

“So we are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think seriously before taking further action.

“But above all, we want an immediate break in the fighting. We want this pause to lead to a ceasefire, a lasting ceasefire without a resumption of fighting. This is what needs to happen now.

Translation: AFPS