Settler involved in killing has shot Palestinians before

A photo published by Israeli media shows Eitan Ze’ev (right) receiving an award from the head of a regional settlement council.

A settler involved in the killing of a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank last week is on trial for shooting two Palestinians last year, according to Israeli media.

Eitan Ze’ev was involved in the fatal shooting of Khaled Nufal, 34, at a settlement outpost built on land belonging to Ras Karkar, the central West Bank town where the slain Palestinian was from.

The Israeli military claimed that Nufal attempted to break into the home of Ze’ev early Friday, attracting the attention of another settler.

“According to the military, Nufal ran at the Israeli man and attacked him,” The Times of Israel reported.

“The man pushed Nufal away and then a third resident of the outpost, as well as the owner of the house [Ze’ev], both armed with guns, opened fire at the Palestinian man, killing him,” the publication added, citing the military.

No investigation

The incident was quickly called a “terror attack” by the military, apparently relying solely on the settlers’ accounts, though Nufal was unarmed.

Because it was ruled as such, “no criminal investigation had been launched,” The Times of Israel added, stating that “the military has not responded to requests for clarifications.”

The publication said Ze’ev, under house arrest, was indicted for aggravated assault and is currently on trial “after he shot two Palestinians during an altercation over a piece of land in July.”

The head of the local council in Ras Karkar said that Nufal had a 4-year-old son and worked as a tax assessor for the Palestinian Authority in nearby Ramallah.

The council leader added that Nufal’s family owns land near the settlement outpost where the man was killed, and that village residents are harassed regularly by settlers.

Ze’ev may have been emboldened to kill Nufal after being valorized for shooting two Palestinians in the northern West Bank during July.

Settlers attempting to take over land belonging to Palestinians in Bidya village shot at two farmers from the village on 5 July.

After the shooting, Ze’ev was awarded a “certificate of appreciation” by a West Bank settlement council leader, claiming his Palestinian victims “tried to lynch Jews.”

Settler killings

Nufal was the fourth Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank so far this year.

A settler guard fatally shot Ahed Qawqas Ikhleil near Bethlehem during January in what Israel claimed was an attempted knife attack.

Israeli forces operate under a shoot-to-kill policy that has seen scores of Palestinians killed in recent years.

B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, has accused Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, of responsibility for “the transformation of police officers, and even of armed civilians, into judges and executioners.”

The lack of credible Israeli investigations into the killings of Palestinians may result in the indictment of policymakers like Netanyahu at the International Criminal Court.

Last week, a panel of court judges ruled in favor of territorial jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

That removes a potential hurdle for war crimes investigations that would focus on military and civilian decision-makers.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.