Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
Social Problems Arising from Settlement

Settlements are communities established by Israel on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. This includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The consensus of the international community is that Israeli settlements in territory it captured in 1967 are illegal, violating the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The term "settlements" may conjure up images of small encampments or temporary housing, and many have started that way. But they now include large subdivisions, even sizable cities, with manicured lawns and streets full of middle-class villas often set on arid hilltops. Israel is constantly building new homes and offers financial incentives for Israelis to live in the West Bank.

After Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, when it began its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula (later returned to Egypt as part of a peace deal between the two countries), Israeli citizens, sometimes with the help of the government, began establishing settlements in the newly occupied territories.



Settlements are scattered throughout the West Bank, and the roads connecting them to Israel and to each other, which are off-limits to Palestinians, create a labyrinthine network which severely disrupts Palestinian traffic and often turns what should be a short journey from one Palestinian town to another into a long, circuitous trip it difficult for people to get to work, visit family or even go to the hospital when they are sick.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law, while Palestinians are governed by Israeli military laws. The two different legal systems for two peoples in the same place play into the characterization of Israel as an “apartheid state,” a terminology often used to describe, and diminish the legitimacy of Israel by its detractors.

Israeli settlers are usually armed and often clash with the neighboring Palestinians, sometimes while being protected by Israeli soldiers or police. The settlements they live in have often been built on land expropriated from the Palestinians, in some cases from private Palestinian landowners, a practice which continues despite being illegal even under Israeli law.



Violation of Palestinian Rights

Amnesty International argues that Israel's settlement policy is discriminatory and a violation of Palestinian human rights. B'Tselem claims that Israeli travel restrictions impact on Palestinian freedom of movement and Palestinian human rights have been violated in Hebron due to the presence of the settlers within the city. According to B'Tselem, over fifty percent of West Bank land expropriated from Palestinians has been used to establish settlements and create reserves of land for their future expansion. The seized lands mainly benefit the settlements and Palestinians cannot use them. The roads built by Israel in the West Bank to serve the settlements are closed to Palestinian vehicles' and act as a barrier often between villages and the lands on which they subsist.



Human Rights Watch and other human rights observer volunteer regularly file reports on "settler violence," referring to stoning and shooting incidents involving Israeli settlers. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and Hebron have led to violent settler protests and disputes over land and resources.

Effects on Palestinian Economy

A Palestinian report argued in 2011 that settlements have a detrimental effect on the Palestinian economy, equivalent to about 85% of the nominal gross domestic product of Palestine, and that the "occupation enterprise" allows the state of Israel and commercial firms to profit from Palestinian natural resources and tourist potential. A 2013 report published by the World Bank analysed the impact that the limited access to Area C lands and resources had on the Palestinian economy. While settlements represent a single axis of control, it is the largest with 68% of the Area C lands reserved for the settlements. The report goes on to calculate that access to the lands and resources of Area C, including the territory in and around settlements, would increase the Palestinian GDP by some $3.5 billion (or 35%) per year.



The settlements have a lot of security measures including Jewish-only roads and restrictions that split up Palestinian territory, often making it difficult for people to get to work, visit family or even go to the hospital when they are sick.

Settler Violence

Some suggest that settler violence has been increasing due to several factors: “The growth of the settler population over the past generation, the diversification of religious and ideological strands among it, and the sense of betrayal felt by settlers following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.” Others believe that extremist views and polarization in the settlements are growing and this, combined with heavy arms easily available to settlers, fosters a climate of hatred and aggression against defenseless and unarmed Palestinians.



Many demand that the acts of violence and destruction be labeled as terrorism, as terrorism is intended to “produce a psychological effect, terror, as a means of advancing a political agenda.” The growth of the settler community over the past few decades has also created a “hilltop youth” culture: these settler youth who seem to exhibit little care for Israeli civil laws and perpetuate violence against the Palestinian communities. They are believed to number in the thousands and they view any type of Palestinian residence in the West Bank as an “obstacle to God’s will.” Settler violence has also increased by 150 percent since 2009 according to the United Nations.

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