I was asked earlier this week by an reporter for PressTV, English-language television network in Iran, if I could explain why the US political system seemed to be so dysfunctional, with Congress and the President having created an artificial budget crisis 17 months ago, not “solving” it until the last hour before a Congressional deadline would have created financial chaos, and even then not solving the problem and instead just pushing it off for two months until the next crisis moment.
I thought for a moment, trying to come up with a simple way to explain the peculiar politics of a fake democracy where two equally pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist parties vie with genuine bitterness for patronage spoils and legal bribes, all the while ignoring the real wishes and needs of the public, and then it hit me: it is really all about US militarism and the unwillingness of either of the two political parties to admit honestly to American people how much they are being gouged to allow the US government and its corporate owners to continue in their attempt to control the world.
It really is that simple.
The US currently spends almost as much on its military and on paying for current and past wars in terms of interest on war debt and care for wounded and aging soldiers as the entire rest of the world spends on arms and war. Approximately $1.3 trillion gets spent each year in taxpayer’s dollars and in more borrowed funds (50 cents of every federal tax dollar goes to pay for the US military, the intelligence apparatus, veterans’ benefits and other related military costs). It is simply ludicrous, given this situation, to imagine that the US can significantly reduce its budget deficit either by raising taxes or by cutting social spending.
Think of it this way. The US is currently running a $1.3 trillion deficit (that is federal spending less tax revenue). That deficit, significantly one must note, almost exactly matches the amount that is being spent annually on the US military, and on military/intelligence-related activities.
In contrast, the federal government budget in 2012 allocated $870 billion for Medicare, Medicaid and all other programs under the aegis of Department of Health and Human Services. The total Department of State budget is $56 billion, and a portion of that is actually for military activities, such as intelligence operations and protection of embassies and consulates. The Department of Agriculture got $150 billion, and that includes the Food Stamp program. Federal spending on education was just $100 billion a year. Social Security is not part of the tax take or the federal budget, as it is all paid from the Social Security Trust Fund, which in turn has been financed by the dedicated payroll tax paid by working people and employers.
None of these non-military budget spending categories could possibly be cut sufficiently to make any real dent in the nation’s massive deficit, which is running at $1.3 trillion a year and which now totals $16.3 trillion. Certainly cuts of 50% could theoretically be made in health and welfare spending, in education, and in other parts of the budget, but cuts of that scale would cause such mass suffering and chaos that the nation would erupt in open rebellion.
The military budget, on the other hand, could be slashed by 50% and nobody would know the difference! The public in the US barely knows there are wars going on. We read about an occasional soldier killed or plane downed, but there is no day-to-day evidence that the US is a nation perpetually in a state of war. If the military were to end those wars, which are costing over $160 billion a year, pull out of all its far-flung bases, which are costing $250 billion a year, slash its huge Special Operations Command, which now number nearly 70,000 people at a cost of over $10 billion, eliminate or massively reduce its strategic nuclear forces, which costs $60 billion a year, and decommission its fleet of aircraft carrier battle groups, which counting construction and operation costs, plus the cost of the planes and missiles they carry, probably cost in the range of $100 billion a year, the US would be no less safe, but the federal budget deficit could be instantly slashed by close to $600 billion a year. That is the amount that is being cut in the current so-called “Fiscal Cliff” bargain over a period of ten years.
In a genuine democracy, there would be politicians and a political party that would be calling for just such an end to US militarism and the massive spending that is needed to support it. It is something that polls show the majority of Americans want to see happen, even though there are no people in government calling for doing it, and even though the very idea of seriously cutting military spending is blacked out by the US corporate media.
Instead, what the American public gets is a fake debate between Democrats and Republicans, and between the White House and the Republicans in the House of Representatives, all focussed on the rest of the US budget — the non-military part. This “debate” is basically a matter of Republicans saying they want to cut the non-military budget deficit by slashing “social spending” and Democrats saying that they are willing to cut “some” social spending, but they would rather raise taxes.
The thing is, cutting social program spending more than by a small amount would be catastrophic, leading to even more mass teacher layoffs, declining health, hunger, collapsing bridges, and to fewer people being able to afford to go to college. It would lead to even more homeless Americans, including returned veterans. Nobody would accept this. We’re already suffering from such cuts. And as for taxes, in a long-running economic crisis such as we are experiencing, nobody but the rich can afford to pay more, and the rich are given a free hand at escaping taxes through loopholes, offshore banking, and high priced accountants.
The reality is that there really is only one way to attack the nation’s massive and growing budget deficit without destroying both people’s lives and the nation’s economy, and that is to slash military spending and to put an end to the country’s militarism and imperialism.
The US today, as former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel famously said during an early televised Democratic presidential primary debate in 2008, “has no enemies.” It is not threatened by any nation, has a military that is without equal, and has a populace that is armed to the teeth. The United States simply does not need to be spending in excess of a trillion dollars — at least on defense. The country would be just as safe — it would be much safer actually since it wouldn’t be destroying lives around the globe and creating enemies where there were none — if it were a tenth of its current size.
The time for a real debate about cutting the US budget by focusing on military spending has come. It is long overdue. If it isn’t addressed now, it will be eventually, not by choice perhaps, but because the US will simply no longer be able to pay for its addiction to war.
The year is 2008. In the US the housing bubble has burst, leaving major financial institutions with a large mess on their hands. It will always be remembered as a time of failing banks, the ‘credit crunch’, plummeting stock markets and declining trade worldwide. The causes of the financial meltdown are a complex interplay of forces, but at the core of the issue is Wall Street’s greed and risk-taking, as well as a failure on the part of regulators and the financial market to prevent the situation from exploding. The end result on the world economy has been nothing short of disastrous. Since 2008 we have seen too many reports of famine, joblessness and uprisings (after all, these things tend to be related).
So what steps were taken to “rein in the excesses of Wall Street?” Well, governments and central banks handed out bailouts to poorly performing financial institutions of a magnitude never seen before.
We have come to normalise the reckless disregard for human life so characteristic of the banking sector. We could have walked down many different paths to deal with the financial crisis – so what else could we have done?
In Venezuela the government takes a very different approach to the banking sector. For example, there is a law in place that means that at least 10% of a bank’s lending should support development projects. President Chavez has recently threatened to nationalise the banks that are not delivering on this. The Venezuelan government wants to see more loans going to support small farmers rather than just going to big businesses. “Either you finance agricultural production or we will take measures. There is no alternative,” Chavez has said. And the irrefutable warning, “If you can’t do it, give me the banks.”
Chavez has made similar threats to the commerce sector, having angered the business community by imposing regulations that will guarantee a fixed maximum price on basic consumer goods. This is to avoid the price of goods being driven up by speculation, the catastrophic effects of which were seen in the Horn of Africa last year. Speculation on the world food market helped to fuel the widespread famine that endangered millions of people.
Venezuelan businesses have predictably complained about the new price fixing measures, calling them “unviable” for business as usual. But rather than balking at the first hurdle, Chavez has said he will seek investment from outside the country if the companies are not able to deliver within the new constraints. It seems that in Venezuela they are unwilling to let big business hold the country to ransom.
Lets take a case study in the UK for comparison – the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Consider this worrying timeline:
2009: the UK government provides an unprecedented bailout to banks, and now officially owns 84% of RBS
2010: bonuses totaling almost £1 billion were paid to top executives of RBS, despite reporting losses of over £1 billion in the same financial year
2011: the massive drop in the price of RBS stocks meant that UK taxpayers lost £26 billion on the value of their investment
2012: there was much controversy over the £1 million bonus offered to the RBS Chief Executive.
Luckily for the UK taxpayer, the RBS Chief Exec turned down the £1 million bonus following intense pressure. But the government could have demanded this of him in the first place. Why didn’t they? The tired old argument of “we don’t want top people or businesses to leave the country” just doesn’t fly in the face of 2.7 million unemployed people in the UK and cuts to much needed welfare payments and disability allowances.
If Venezuela can teach us anything, let it be that:
It is possible to take a stand against ugly business practices
It is possible to expect our banking and commercial sectors to make a positive contribution to the world
There is no better time than right now
- Venezuela’s Economy Grows by 5.5 Percent in 2012 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A generation ago the Chicago Boys and their financial supporters applauded General Pinochet’s anti-labor Chile as a success story, thanks mainly to its transformation of their Social Security into Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) that almost universally were looted by the employer grupos by the end of the 1970s. In the last decade, the Bush Administration, seeking a Trojan Horse to privatize Social Security in the United States, applauded Chile’s disastrous privatization of pension accounts (turning many over to US financial institutions) even as that nation’s voters rejected the Pinochetistas largely out of anger at the vast pension rip-off by high finance.
Today’s most highly celebrated anti-labor success story is Latvia. Latvia is portrayed as the country where labor did not fight back, but simply emigrated politely and quietly. No general strikes, nor destruction of private property or violence, Latvia is presented as a country where labor had the good sense to not make a fuss when faced with austerity. Latvians gave up protest and simply began voting with their backsides (emigration) as the economy shrank, wage levels were scaled down, and where tax burdens remained decidedly on the backs of labor, even though recent token efforts have been made to increase taxes on real estate. The World Bank applauds Latvia and its Baltic neighbors by placing them high on its list of “business friendly” economies, even though at times scolding their social regimes as even too harsh for the Victorian tastes of the international financial institutions.
Can this really be a model for the United States or Europe’s remaining social democracies? Or is it simply a cruel experiment that cannot readily be emulated in larger countries un-traumatized by Soviet era memories of occupation? One can only dream …
But the dream is attractive enough. In a page one The New York Times feature article accompanying that paper’s celebration of the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Cliff commitment to budget cutting, Andrew Higgins provides the latest attempt to applaud Latvia’s economic and demographic plunge as the “Latvian Miracle.” The newspaper thus has fallen in line with the surrealistic Orwellian attempts to depict Latvia’s austerity and asset stripping as an economic success as rendered in the brochures distributed by the Institute for International Finance (the now notorious Peterson bank lobby “think tank”) and international financial institutions from the IMF to the European Union banking bureaucracy. What they mean by “success” is slashing wage levels and leaving the tax burden primarily on labor and lightly on capital gains, without spurring a revolution or even Greek style general strikes. The success is one of psy-ops and engineering of consent Edward Bernays style, rather than of successful economic policy.
Latvia is the country that has come closest to imposing the Steve Forbes tax and finance model advanced during his failed Presidential campaign: a two-part tax on wages and social benefits that are near the highest in the world, while real estate taxes are well below US and EU averages. Meanwhile, capital gains are lightly taxed, and the country has become successful as a capital flight and tax avoidance haven for Russians and other post-Soviet kleptocrats that has permitted Latvia to “afford” de-industrialization, depopulation and de-socialization.
Higgins’ article nurtures two enduring misperceptions of the Latvian Crash of 2008 cultivated by its government advisors picked from the ranks of global bank lobbyists and austerity hawks. First, this star pupil of the international financial community “proves” that austerity works. Second, Latvians have accepted austerity at the polls. A Potemkin Village of austerity progress has been built by neoliberal lobbyists such as Anders Aslund for visiting journalists and policymakers. In the main, these visitors have accepted this Theresienstadt-like “tour” for reality.
Typically trafficked tales of Latvia as a Protestant morality play (an image we presented in our June Financial Times article on Latvia) depict plucky but stoic Balts confronting the crisis and wage reductions not with Mediterranean histrionics, but by getting busy with work. This idea appeals to certain smug middle-class prejudices and stereotypes in countries whose populations have not had to suffer economic experiments in neoliberal horror. While there is some truth in the characterization of Balts as taciturn and slow to protest, the cultural traits argument is a poor attempt at developing a short hand for explaining Latvia’s situation. They are authored by people bereft of an on-the-ground understanding of what has happened to Latvia. Meanwhile, “work” (employment) would be nice, Latvia’s unemployment remains high at 14.2% despite a significant portion of its population having departed the country.
Anyone with actual experience in Latvia will see the dissonance between myth and reality regarding the government’s response to the crisis. First, Latvians most emphatically did protest both the corruption and proposed austerity following the fall 2008 crash. This was most evident at the massive January 13, 2009 protest in Riga attended by 10,000 people. This was followed by a series of protests by students, teachers, farmers, pensioners and health workers in the next months.
It is not in the character of neoliberal regimes to be sympathetic to such protests, peaceful or not. Committed monetarists, they were not going to yield on policy. So Latvians moved on to the next stage of protest.
‘No People, No Problem’: the Great Latvian Exodus
A harsh austerity regime was imposed and protests did abate. What happened?
In a word, emigration. At least 10% of Latvians have left since EU accession in 2004 and access to the Schengen Zone. This exodus accelerated following the economic crash in late 2008. The problem was evinced in one Latvian student protest placard that read, “the last student out at the airport, please turn off the lights!” Latvia’s population is small enough for the bigger EU countries to absorb its departing workforce. And on balance, the nation has been experiencing emigration since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, when neoliberal policies replaced a failing Soviet economy. Yet, rather than lessening over time as one would expect, Latvia, which can ill afford emigration, saw people leaving in ever greater numbers nearly two decades out from independence.
Latvians were reproducing at replacement rates when the USSR collapsed. Its 2.7 million population in 1991 dwindled to an official 2.08 million in 2010 through a combination emigration and a financial environment too precarious to permit marriage and children. And, this “official” number from the 2010 census is quite optimistic. Demographic reports originally showed a figure of 1.88 million in 2010. Some Latvian demographers even stated their belief that this lower number was inflated. Latvian demographers report government pressure on census takers to come up with a number above the psychologically significant 2 million threshold. This success (yet another neoliberal Potemkin Village illusion) reportedly was achieved, in part, by using a government website to count Latvians as resident in the country even when they were just visiting to see relatives or check on property. Regardless of the veracity of the lower or higher numbers, both are unsustainably low and represent a slow euthanizing of the country. While many Russians quickly left at Latvia’s independence, most subsequent emigrants have done so for economic reasons. Within a half-year of the initial protests, emigration accelerated and the number of children born in the country plunged as Latvia’s economy crashed and its government intensified fiscal austerity.
Austerity’s defenders rejoin that the country had two national elections and could have changed economic course. But they spin the details that explain just why Latvia’s policymaking elite have managed to remain remarkably constant over the past twenty years. Latvia’s two parliamentary elections both before and since the crisis have turned on endless ethnic politics. Austerity policy has been associated with mostly ethnic Latvian parties, while more social democratic alternatives have been associated with ethnic Russian parties. To be sure, both ethnic communities were divided over economic policy, but it was mainly the ethnic framing of economic policy that ensured austerity policies would prevail in a country still traumatized by the Soviet occupation and divided over what economic policy to take in the wake of the 2008 crisis.
Latvia’s economic collapse was the deepest of any nation when the financial bubble burst in 2008. Hot money flows had inflated its property markets to world-high levels, thanks to its neoliberal minimal taxation of real estate that was the complemented by onerous taxation of labor. Given how deep the plunge was, there was room for the inevitable bounce up thereafter – hailed as a recovery.
When one looks at the details, the so-called recovery was much centered on four sectors. First, is Latvia’s correspondent (offshore) banking sector that attracts and processes capital flight. Already a site for illicit transfer of Soviet oil and metals to world markets before independence, Latvia became a major destination for oligarch hot money. The Latvian port of Ventspils was an export terminal for Russian oil, providing foreign exchange that was a Soviet and later Russian embezzler’s dream. Figures such as the notorious Grigory Loutchansky of Latvia and his Nordex became notorious for money laundering. Even Americans were involved, such as Loutchansky’s partner, Marc Rich (later pardoned by Bill Clinton) who later took over the Nordex operation. The Latvian government signaled its intentions to defend this offshore banking sector at all costs (including imposing austerity on its people) when it bailed out Latvia’s biggest offshore bank, Parex. European Commission and IMF authorities gave a massive foreign loan for Latvia that in part enabled the government to function after bailing out Parex and thus its correspondent (offshore) accounts and continued payment of above-market interest rates to “favored” (read: “well connected”) customers.
Although not in the league with London, New York and Zurich as a criminogenic flight capital center, Latvia has carved out a substantial niche in the global money laundering system. According to Bloomberg: “As non-European inflows into Cyprus stagnate, about $1.2 billion flooded into Latvia in the first half of the year. Non-resident deposits are now $10 billion, about half the total, regulators say, exceeding 43 percent in Switzerland, according to that nation’s central bank.” These are big amounts in view of the fact that Latvia has only about a quarter of Switzerland’s population and merely a tenth of its GDP. While this activity might make many bankers rich, it does little to develop Latvia’s economy. Moreover, it represents a beggar thy neighbor policy that permits Latvia to benefit from taking capital out of developing post-Soviet neighboring countries.
Second, Latvia’s emergency response to the crisis was to ratchet up clear cutting of forests. Latvia inherited massive woodland reserves from the Soviet policy of converting farmland to forest. Export growth in this category reflects asset stripping post-Soviet style. That patrimony is being drawn down. While significant, one must remember that given Latvia’s far northern latitude, it takes fifty to a hundred years to replace trees to maturity. So this resource cannot be indefinitely sustained. Moreover, the move to develop more value-added processing of Latvia’s forests has been frustratingly slow. Promises by the chief consumers of Latvian logs (e.g., Sweden and others) to process logs into timber, paper and other products, have mostly been talk, with little action.
Third, the fact that Latvia’s neoliberalized economy has been de-industrialized over the past two decades means that nearly any increase in post-crash manufacturing represents growth in percentage terms. Latvia has nearly no effective labor protections, and only the weakest unions to advocate for decent working conditions and salaries (or even sometimes to be paid at all). Wages can be pushed down from what already were poverty levels, while businesses deploy labor in any fashion they see fit, without regulatory structures to protect workers. Simultaneously, Latvia’s labor costs are far higher than are economically necessary, thanks to the punishingly high set of labor and social taxes designed to keep capital gains and real estate taxes comparatively low. Even so, wages and “flexibility” have made Latvian labor cheap enough to encourage some enterprise. Yet, there are also real centers of innovation and entrepreneurial talent, but they mostly succeed in spite of Latvian government policy, not by support from it.
Europe’s recent star export performers on a percent basis have been Latvia and Greece – a metric that makes sense only as a bounce up from a big post crash. Latvia’s per capita purchasing power is well below that of even Greece. The modest uptick in manufacturing and exports is positive, but Latvia still is ranked last in Europe for innovation and R&D investment as percentages of GDP. The lack of investment in innovation, combined with anti-labor tax and finance policy, thus limits manufacturing’s potential for much faster growth as Latvian labor costs are higher than needed, due to regressive taxation.
Fourth, there has been growth in the previously underdeveloped agricultural and transit sectors. This has been encouraged by food-price inflation in recent years and better policy and planning from the Ministry of Transportation. Although transit historically has been among the most corrupt parts of the Latvian economy and government, centers of excellence have emerged in that ministry that have leveraged up Latvia’s transit potential. Russia’s agreement to use its rail lines to permit supply of American troops in Afghanistan via Latvian ports hasn’t hurt either.
The most revealing part of the New York Times’ mostly puff piece on behalf of budget cutting that can be seen as a model for America to grin and bear the coming austerity, only comes in the concluding comments by economists in Latvia who reported: “The idea of a Latvian ‘success story’ is ridiculous.” “Latvia is not a model for anybody.” “You can only do this in a country that is willing to take serious pain for some time and has a dramatic flexibility in the labor market.” In short, it can’t be done in any real democracy.
For governments able to ignore the will of the people (an expanding trend in rich developed countries), the Latvian model can only be applied if one’s country is:
- Small enough, willing enough, and able to let at least 10% of population emigrate, headed by the most talented and multilingual freshly minted graduates;
- Demographically secure enough to see family formation, marriage and birth rates plummet;
- An ethnically divided population that enables politicians to play the ethnic card to distract population from economic issues; and
- A depoliticized Post-Soviet population willing to give up protest after short period.
Any larger country attempting this level of austerity would need to find an outlet for the some 10% of its people leaving. For the United States, that would mean countries willing to take 20 million American workers. Last time the authors checked, neither Canada nor Mexico had the willingness or capacity to take these numbers, and not enough American students have yet studied Mandarin to do China’s laundry.
Latvia still has a well-educated population with highly developed design sensibilities. Its skilled workers are known for their creativity and attention to detail. With better economic policy, less anti-labor tax policy, less subsidy of real estate and finance and more investment in innovation – the opposite of what The New York Times celebrates as Latvia’s success story – it could replicate the successes of its Scandinavian neighbors. The alternative is for its neoliberalized economy to produce “recovery” in a way reminiscent of Tacitus’ characterization, put in the mouth of the Celtic chieftain Calgacus before the battle of Mons Graupius: Rome’s victories “make a desert and they call it peace.” Neoliberals call austerity and emigration “stability” and even economic growth and recovery, as long as people don’t complain or demand an alternative.
Michael Hudson was Professor of Economics and Director of Research at the Riga Graduate School of Law. He is a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His book summarizing his economic theories, The Bubble and Beyond, is available on Amazon. His latest book is Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents. He can be reached via his website, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Sommers is visiting faculty at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. He is an Associate Professor of Political Economy & Public Policy at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
The authors have advised Latvian politicians and government officials up to the Prime Minister level. Both have published extensively in the Latvian press. Additionally, they have written for The Financial Times, The Guardian, and several other text, radio, and television media.
Sommers is co-editor and author with Charles Woolfson for the forthcoming Routledge Press volume, The Contradictions of Austerity: The Socio-Economic Costs of the Neoliberal Baltic Model, of which Hudson has a contributing chapter.
Commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan General John R. Allen (file photo)
Commander of the US-led forces in Afghanistan General John R. Allen has offered plans that would keep thousands of American troops in the war-torn country after Washington’s planned 2014 withdrawal.
Allen has submitted three plans to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with troop levels ranging between 6,000 and 20,000, the New York Times cited a senior Pentagon official as saying on Wednesday.
General Allen’s options reportedly offer US involvement in security issues in Afghanistan and advising Afghan military forces.
With 6,000 troops, it is expected that the US mission in Afghanistan would largely rely on Special Operations commandos who would engage in targeted killings and assassination missions, with limited logistical support and training for Afghan forces.
The 10,000-strong mission is expected to engage in training Afghan security personnel; while with 20,000 troops Washington would add some conventional army forces to patrol in certain areas.
US President Barack Obama is supposed to discuss the options with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, during his visit to the White House next week.
The United States, which currently has about 66,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, led the invasion of the country in 2001, under the pretext of eradicating Taliban forces and bringing stability to the country.
However, torn apart by a war that has lasted over a decade, Afghanistan is still dealing with untamed violence, as well as rising insecurity topped by social problems.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon, the White House and US generals based in Afghanistan keep providing contradictory information on the composition, tasks and the size of the contingent that would remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline.
- ‘US will maintain military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014′ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Prince Harry ‘kills innocent afghans’, according to former Afghanistan prime minister (dailyrecord.co.uk)
Israeli army dogs attack elderly Palestinian, two-year-old child injured in the head in Jewish settlers’ attack
Israeli army dogs attacked a 93-year-old Palestinian woman as an undercover unit raided the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday morning, according to Ma’an news agency.
The agents were dressed as Palestinians and backed up by the army when they staged an incursion into the city’s industrial zone.
The raid is the latest in a string of Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns in the West Bank. On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors invaded the northern West Bank town of Tamoun and fired ammunition at residents.
Amneh Hisnawi was alone in her house when soldiers stormed her home and dogs belonging to security personnel attacked her. She was sent to an Israeli hospital for treatment.
An army spokesman said the raid on Jenin was conducted to arrest a Palestinian suspected of ‘terror activity’, but that the suspect was not at home.
Around 500 Palestinians hurled rocks, firebombs, and burned tires, according to the spokesman.
Fadi Ijawi, 23, was wounded in the leg by a a live bullet and taken to a Palestinian hospital, a Ma’an reporter said. Dozens also suffered from tear gas inhalation, the reporter added.
Israeli settlers hit two-year-old Palestinian on the head
Several Palestinians, including one toddler, were injured when dozens of illegal Israeli settlers attacked a northern West Bank village on Wednesday, according to Palestine’s Ma’an news agency.
Two-year-old Farah Nanseem was hit on the head during the assault on Jalud village, south of Nablus. Israelis from the Esh Kodesh settlement had staged a sit-in in Jalud earlier in the day to prevent Palestinians from working in the fields.
Several villagers were sent to hospitals to treat light to moderate wounds; houses and a car were also damaged, settlement monitoring official Ghassan Daghlas said.
Another Nablus village, Qusra, was attacked by settlers two days ago. More than 150 olive trees were uprooted.
The assailants were only briefly detained by village security guards.
Israeli settlers, who are considered illegal by international law, routinely assault Palestinians in the West Bank, damaging property and livelihoods, and often targeting the elderly and children.
They face little to no punishment from Israeli authorities for their crimes.
- Settlers raid Nablus village homes and a tractor. Uproot 190 olive trees and burn Hebron car (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli settler attacks on the rise in West Bank (bikyamasr.com)
- Three Palestinians Injured By Israeli Settlers Near Nablus (imemc.org)