Gaza dominates the news these days, but at least 132 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, including 41 children, the United Nations says, along with one Israeli soldier killed by Palestinians. More than 900 Palestinians have been forced from their homes in that period.

These are longstanding problems, but they have gotten worse over the past few years and especially in the past few weeks.

“Settlers have been exploiting this war to violently expel shepherding communities,” said Rabbi Arik Ascherman, a human-rights activist in Israel. The United Nations said recently that there had been an average of seven settler attacks on West Bank Palestinians a day since Oct. 7, often with guns and frequently with the support of Israeli security forces.

When I’ve spoken to settlers in the past, they’ve argued that they are just protecting themselves from Palestinians and that in any case, God gave them the entire area. “This is the deed to our land,” Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations told fellow envoys in 2019, holding up a Bible and referring to the West Bank as well as Israel.

It was good to see President Biden on Oct. 25 denouncing “extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.” Settlers “have to be held accountable,” he said. “And it has to stop now.”



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