Settler violence under spotlight in the South Hebron Hills

When Jane arrived in the South Hebron hills to monitor settler violence against Palestinian communities, she didn't expect that she herself would be the target of an attack on her second day there. Jane, from England, is part of a new team of EAPPI human rights monitors based in the southern West Bank town of Yatta. As the team were being shown around the area, local farmers called to tell them settlers were attacking the village of Susiya.

Arriving at the scene, they found a group of 12 men from a nearby settlement shouting at local Palestinians. The EAPPI team filmed and took photos as evidence while settlers threw rocks at locals. Several Palestinians including an elderly lady and a four year old boy were injured. One settler threw a rock at Jane's head, injuring her arm when she raised it to protect herself.

EAPPI has accompaniers on the ground throughout the West Bank, providing protective presence to vulnerable communities, sometimes at great personal risk. The new EAPPI team, based in Yatta will cover some of the areas of the West Bank most affected by settler violence.

"The south Hebron hills area sees more violence by settlers than any other part of the West Bank, and the local communities there have often requested our presence," said Pauline Nunu, EAPPI's local director. "We fear that there may be a rise in both settler attacks and house demolitions following September's UN vote, heightening the need for an international presence."

The EAPPI works closely with international, Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups who say the the presence of international accompaniers often helps to de-escalate tensions and ease traffic at checkpoints.

"EAPPI already has a strong connection to these communities and they always tell us that they feel safer when the foreigners are around, so on their request, we decided to set up a full time placement in Yatta."