France on Thursday condemned violence by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, calling it a “policy of terror” aimed at displacing Palestinians and urging Israeli authorities to protect Palestinians from the violence.
U.N. figures show that daily settler attacks have more than doubled, since the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing assault on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
“Concerning the West Bank, I’d like to express the strongest condemnation by France of the violence carried out by the settlers against the Palestinians,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told a news conference.
“Violence which has the clear objective of forced displacement of the Palestinians and a policy of terror.”
She said the Israeli authorities needed to take the necessary measures to protect the Palestinian population and warned that the settlement policy harmed the two-state solution.
United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk echoed her words. Speaking in Geneva on Thursday, Turk said he was deeply concerned about the intensification of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. He said it was clear the Israeli occupation must end.
This year was already the deadliest in at least 15 years for West Bank residents, with some 200 Palestinians and 26 Israelis killed, according to United Nations data. But just in the three weeks since the Oct. 7 attack, more than 120 West Bank Palestinians have been killed. Clashes with soldiers have caused most deaths.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and it has been under military occupation since, while Israeli settlements have consistently expanded. Palestinians envisage the West Bank as part of a future independent state also including Gaza and East Jerusalem.
France’s Legendre also said that about half the 100 tonnes of aid France had sent to Gaza had entered the enclave. She added it was not up to Israel to decide the future governance of Gaza, which she said should be part of a future Palestinian state.