Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong
Anti-Semitism must be condemned, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong told parliament. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
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Australia condemns settler violence in the West Bank

Tara Cosoleto December 16, 2023

Australia has called on Israel to take immediate action over a rising number of violent acts against Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank.

In a joint statement with 13 other nations including France and the United Kingdom, Australia condemned what was described as “record high” violence from extremist settlers.

Since the start of October, settlers have committed more than 340 violent attacks against Palestinian people in the West Bank, the statement said.

Eight Palestinian civilians have been killed, more than 80 have been injured and 1026 people forced out of their homes.

The joint statement, also signed by the European Union, accused extremist settlers of terrorising Palestinian communities.

“We reiterate our position that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law and remind Israel of its obligations under international law,” the statement said.

“This rise in extremist settler violence committed against Palestinians is unacceptable. 

“Israel, as the occupying power, must protect the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank.”

The joint statement noted the Israeli government last month said it would take action against violent perpetrators. 

But Australia and the other nations said proactive steps must be taken to ensure the immediate protection of Palestinian communities.

“Words are important, but must now be translated into action,” the statement read.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia had grave concerns about the attacks on Palestinian people in the West Bank.

“Effective and immediate action is needed to ensure civilians are protected, perpetrators are held to account and tensions are not inflamed further,” she posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The latest upsurge in a long history of violence in the region was sparked when fighters from Hamas – considered a terrorist group by the Australian government – crossed a border fence into southern Israel, killing 1200 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostages on October 7.

Since then, more than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been driven from their homes and face starvation as Israel’s bombing campaign stretches into its third month.