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Growing violence in the West Bank

JERUSALEM — A 25-year-old Israeli was killed in a shooting attack in the West Bank late on Dec. 16.

Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was killed on Dec. 16.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has vowed to find the people responsible for killing Yehuda Dimentman, a 25-year-old who lived in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron and studied at a yeshiva in Homesh, an outpost of Israeli settlers located about 20 miles east of Netanya.

The Homesh outpost was set up without authorization from the Israeli government next to the one-time settlement of the same name.

The government evacuated and demolished the Homesh settlement in 2005 as part of its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in hopes of promoting peace.

Dimentman was riding in a car with two others to the outpost when they were ambushed by shooters with automatic weapons. The other passengers sustained minor injuries.

Dimentman, who is survived by his wife and nine-month-old son, was buried in Jerusalem on Dec. 17.
At his funeral, the head of the yeshiva where he studied and others vowed to defend Homesh, and his brother said Dimentman was committed to living and studying there.

“Living according to Torah wasn’t easy for Yehuda, but he knew it was his mission,” Shlomi Dimentman said, according to Ynet.

“He bowed to no one. Wherever he felt he needed to be, he went and was loved by all. He never made allowances for himself, not in the cold of winter, not on Shabbat. His wife and he lived in a tin hut and they were happy there.”

The attack comes amid a spate of violent attacks by Palestinians against Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Dimentman is the second settler to be killed this year in the West Bank, after a 19-year-old yeshiva student was shot and killed while waiting at a bus stop in May.

Meanwhile, violent attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank are up according to a recent Times of Israel analysis. Such attacks are nothing new, but the phenomenon has reached an alarming new level of frequency this year.

Violent attacks perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank exceeded last year’s attacks by nearly 50%.

In 2021, there have been 397 attacks so far, compared to 272 in 2020, the Times of Israel reported based on data from the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency. According to a report in Haaretz, there have been 135 stone throwing incidents targeting Palestinians this year compared to 90 in 2019.

The violence was especially evident during the annual fall olive harvest this year, often a time of violent attacks on Palestinians who spend their days harvesting from trees located outside of their villages, which are often close to settlements.

Dozens of videos of violent attacks and photos of bloodied farmers and shepherds and the Israeli activists who sometimes accompany them were shared to social media this year.

While Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said he will assign more soldiers and police officers to the West Bank to stem the violence, the issue of how to deal with the settlers remains an area of little consensus for the current government, which is composed of a broad coalition of right-wing settler leaders, left and center-left parties, and Arab parties.

In a Dec. 13 meeting with US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Israeli Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev discussed the issue of settler violence.

After Barlev, who is a member of the Labor party, tweeted about the meeting with Nuland, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who was a leader in the settler movement before becoming prime minister earlier this year, appeared to respond to Barlev’s comments without naming him.

In a tweet of his own, Bennett expressed support for settlers on the receiving end of violent attacks.

“The settlers in Judea and Samaria have been suffering from violence and terrorism, daily, for decades. They are the protective wall for all of us and we must strengthen them and support them, in words and deeds. There are marginal elements in every society, they need to be addressed by all means, but we must not generalize about an entire community,” Bennett wrote.

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