Palestinians react as a stun grenade was thrown towards them during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protestors during a demonstration for Nakba (Catastrophe) day near Damascus Gate at Jerusalem's old city, May 15, 2013. 
Baz Ratner / Reuters

Late this past June, a group of Israeli settlers in the West Bank defaced and burned a mosque in the small West Bank village of Jabaa. Graffiti sprayed by the vandals warned of a "war" over the planned evacuation, ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court, of a handful of houses illegally built on private Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement of Beit El. The torching of the mosque was the fourth such attack in 18 months and part of a wider trend of routine violence committed by radical settlers against innocent Palestinians, Israeli security personnel, and mainstream settler leaders -- all aimed at intimidating perceived enemies of the settlement project.

This violence has not always plagued the settler community. Although many paint all Israeli settlers as extremists, conflating them with the often-justified criticism of Israeli government policy in the West Bank, the vast majority of them oppose attacks against Palestinian civilians

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  • DANIEL BYMAN is a Professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Director of Research at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism. NATAN SACHS is a Fellow at the Saban Center.
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