UK sanctions four Israeli settlers accused of human rights abuses in West Bank

Britain has sanctioned four Israeli settlers accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Moshe Sharvit, Yinon Levy, Zvi Bar Yosef and Ely Federman have been made subject to a UK asset freeze, and travel and visa ban.

The Foreign Office said Israel’s “failure to act” had led to “an environment of near total impunity for settler extremists”, with violence in the West Bank reaching record levels in 2023.

The department identified the four settlers and described the accusations against them as:

– Moshe Sharvit, an alleged extremist settler who is said to have threatened, harassed and assaulted Palestinian shepherds and their families in the Jordan Valley. In October 2023, one community of 20 families fled after Sharvit allegedly attacked the residents and told them they had five hours to leave;

– Yinon Levy allegedly led the “Meitarim Farm” outpost, founded in 2021, involved in the use of physical violence and the destruction of property to displace Palestinian communities including Zanuta in October 2023;

– Zvi Bar Yosef is accused of setting up the “Zvi’s Farm” outpost in 2018 and using intimidation and violence against local Palestinians, including twice threatening at gunpoint young families having a picnic;

– Ely Federman is said to have been involved in multiple incidents against Palestinian shepherds in the South Hebron Hills.

Also on Monday, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order targeting four Israeli settlers accused of involvement in acts of violence as well as threats and attempts to destroy or seize Palestinian property.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said: “Today’s sanctions place restrictions on those involved in some of the most egregious abuses of human rights. We should be clear about what is happening here.

“Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs.

“This behaviour is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through.

“Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

During a visit on Monday to East Kilbride, Scotland, the Foreign Secretary also urged Israel to “stop and think seriously” before taking further action in Rafah in the south of Gaza.

The town was hit by air strikes overnight, with Israel signalling its intention to carry out a ground offensive in the area.

The country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that sending ground troops into Rafah is essential to meeting Israel’s war goals.

This comes despite warnings from Joe Biden not to conduct a military operation in the Gaza border town without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.

Downing Street echoed the US President’s concerns on Monday, saying the UK Government is “watching developments closely”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Clearly, with over half of Gaza’s population sheltering in Rafah, it is important as the US has said that there is a credible, fully worked-through plan to protect civilians and aid operations.”