Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 13:41 UK

Israel 'worry' at settler attacks

Screen grab of Israeli settler about to beat Palestinian civilian
One recent incident was captured on film as part of a human rights project

Israeli security officials are reported to have raised concerns about an increase in violence by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper said officials had found an increase in incidents of settlers causing harm to Palestinians and to Israeli soldiers.

There were 429 incidents in the first half of 2008, against 551 in 2007.

There are frequent reports of settlers harassing Palestinians, with two attacks recently captured on video.

These have been widely broadcast and have brought the issue to greater prominence.

Haaretz said police, army and security services had also discussed allegations that some police and soldiers were deliberately ignoring violence by settlers against Palestinians, because they preferred not to get involved in difficult issues.

Settlement withdrawal delayed

In July, an Israeli rights group published a report saying nine out of 10 investigations into alleged attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers ended without anyone being charged.

The Yesh Din group said that, of 163 cases that it looked at, only 13 had ended with assailants being indicted.

Israeli police disputed the findings, but admitted just 15% of cases in the West Bank in 2007 ended in a charge.

And Israeli officials have said their priorities in the West Bank are to deal with terrorism against Israelis as well as criminal and public order offences, and resources are allocated accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Israeli defence ministry has said Israel has postponed the expected evacuation of the settlement of Migron, in the West Bank. No new date has been set.

Migron has a population of about 200, and is the largest of about 100 Jewish settlements established without Israeli government permission.

All settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

There are thought to be around 430,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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