Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has risen sharply, due to friction between people or a desire to intimidate or take revenge, UN agencies and NGOs said Wednesday.
"Last year, the number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by more than a third; since 2009 it increased by nearly 150%," a joint statement said.
The statement was signed by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN's children fund UNICEF, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, Israeli NGOs Yesh Din and B'Tselem and Palestinian NGO Al-Haq.
"There are two distinct phenomena," B'Tselem director Jessica Montell told a joint news conference with representatives of the other groups in Ramallah.
She cited "the price tag phenomenon which is actually related to settlers feeling threatened when there are military measures against settlements."
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Furthermore, "violence is a means of displacing Palestinians and expanding the settlement in a very explicit way," she added.
In this case, "it's scaring the Palestinians and threatening them and forcing them to leave their community so that the settlers will take over the land," stressed Pauline Nunu of EAPPI.
Participants at the news conference denounced the Israeli authorities' attitude and the de-facto impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, and urged them to take responsibility as the occupying power.
More than 90 percent of the complaints filed against settlers in recent years have not been addressed, according to the United Nations.
"From the soldier on the ground and all the way up through the military, the police and the government, a much higher priority is given to Palestinian violence than to violence against Palestinians," Montell lamented.
More than 340,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and about 200,000 in settlement neighbourhoods in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, among some 2.6 million Palestinians.