Israel Encourages Settler Violence
by Stephen Lendman
Settler violence is terrorism. Even America’s State Department says so. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.
Israeli setter violence is out-of-control. It’s risen sharply in recent years because nothing is done to stop it. Israeli extremists literally have license to attack Palestinian civilians, destroy their property and crops, inflict bodily harm, and at times kill.
Last March, the London Guardian headlined “Israel ‘turning blind eye’ to West Bank settlers’ attacks on Palestinians,” saying:
Settlers conduct “systematic and expanding campaign of violence against Palestinian farmers, families and children with the Israeli authorities turning a blind eye, according to confidential reports from senior European Union officials.”
Two EU reports the Guardian obtained showed “settler violence (more) than tripled in three years to total hundreds of incidents.”
In February, EU ambassadors in Brussels said:
“Acts of settler violence are becoming a serious concern for the Israeli state which has so far failed to effectively protect the Palestinian population.”
The report said attacks rose from 132 in 2009 to 411 last year. Farmers are most vulnerable. In 2011, about 10,000 olive, almond, and lemon trees were destroyed.
Israeli authorities largely turn a blind eye and do nothing. “Over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment.”
Whitewash is official policy. Settlers are free to attack, injure, and destroy. Why not? Who’ll stop them. Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. Israeli security forces and supportive Fatah ones conduct their own reign of terror.
Settler attacks alone are out-of-control. “Discriminatory protections and privileges (they get) compound these abuses and create an environment in which (they) can act with apparent impunity.”
Government failure to act encourages violence. Settlers believe they enjoy “tacit support of the state of Israel.”
Farmers in their fields are assaulted. Children heading to or from school or at play are attacked. Most settlers are nonviolent. Too many others hate Arabs and show it.
“Arguably the single most important deficiency in the provision of an impartial rule of law is the difference in the level of protection afforded to settlers and Palestinians,” said the report.
Around 100 militant settler leaders “mastermind” attacks. Israeli authorities fear electoral fallout by deterring them. “In Israeli terms, there (are) negative political consequence(s) to cracking down on settler violence and no political gain” by doing it.
The EU report was one thing. Failure to act against Israel made it toothless. Follow-through never occurs after similar UN reports. One released in July said settler attacks increased 150% since 2008. Apparently it understated how bad things are.
Incidents include violence and destructive acts against individuals, mosques, crops, livestock, and other property. Former IDF head Dan Halutz said Netanyahu does nothing to stop them. “If we wanted, we could catch them, and when we want to, we will,” he added.
Last February, Israeli television reported Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman caught on tape. He was advising extremist settlers how to seek pardons if charged. He’d approve them, he said.
On issues regarding Palestine, Israeli governments (past and present) pursue similar policies. Settler terrorism continues because no one stops it.
Last July, Haaretz contributor Amira Hass discussed it. She touched important nerves. She headlined “The anti-Semitism that goes unreported,” saying:
“Here’s a statistic that you won’t see in research on anti-Semitism, no matter how meticulous the study is. In the first six months of the year, 154 anti-Semitic assaults have been recorded, 45 of them around one village alone.”
“Some fear that last year’s record high of 411 attacks - significantly more than the 312 attacks in 2010 and 168 in 2009 - could be broken this year.”
Last June, 58 incidents occurred - nearly two a day. They included “stone-throwing targeting farmers and shepherds, shattered windows, arson, damaged water pipes and water-storage facilities, uprooted fruit trees and one damaged house of worship.”
“The assailants are sometimes masked, sometimes not; sometimes they attack surreptitiously, sometimes in the light of day.”
Palestinians got “death” and “revenge” threats. Another said, “We will yet slaughter.”
Merriam-Webster calls Semites “member(s) of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs.” So are other Semitic-speaking people.
Anti-Semistism affects Palestinians like Jews. It’s no secret who’s more egregiously treated. “It’s no accident (why) diligent anti-Semitism researchers” don’t explain, said Hass.
Palestinian Semites are harmed, not Jews. In response, “Israeli Defense Forces, the Civil Administration, the Border Police and the courts all stand on the sidelines, closing their eyes, softballing investigations, ignoring evidence, downplaying the severity of the acts, protecting the attackers, and giving a boost to those progromtchiks.”
Palestinians face daily terror threats. Who’ll be attacked next? Will their children get to school and return home OK? How many trees and other crops will be destroyed? Is praying in community mosques safe?
On February 24, 1994, Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslim worshippers. Palestinians fear similar incidents for good reason. Even the conservative Washington Post commented. Last August it headlined “Settler violence against Palestinians raises alarm in Israel,” saying:
Jewish youths viciously beat an Arab teenager. “(S)oul-searching about the depths of ethnic hatred in Israeli society” followed. Too bad arrests virtually never occur.
“Israeli authorities (made none following) the Aug. 16 daylight firebombing of a Palestinian taxi….” They did little more than say they suspected extremist settlers. Case closed!
Four Palestinian family members and the driver were severely burned. Hospitalization was required. Netanyahu promised to find those responsible but did nothing. It happens after virtually all terrorist incidents harming Palestinians. Israeli authorities don’t care and show it.
Rarely ever do US media report negatively about Israel. Exceptions prove the rule. Left unsaid is how bad things are. Life in Occupied Palestine means having no one to turn to for protection.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other resistance groups do their best to protect Gazans. They’re no match against Israeli F-16s, attack helicopters, missiles, bombs, artillery shelling, heavily armed invaders, and assault vessels attacking Palestinian fishermen.
West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians are virtually defenseless. They face three brutal enemies - extremist settlers, Israeli security forces, and PA ones used against their own people.
There’s nowhere to hide. Security is a four-letter word. Systemic violence is a way of life. No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live, die, stay unharmed and free, or know their homes and other property are safe.
Being Palestinian is their mark of Cain. Praying to the wrong God endangers them. Profound insecurity defines their lives. So do fear, intimidation, and institutionalized violence. Terrorism stalks them daily.
It takes a tolls. Palestinians bear physical and emotional scars. Children are especially harmed. Some end up permanently traumatized. Most people outside Occupied Palestine know or care.
Occasional Israeli policies are cosmetic without teeth at best. On October 12, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined “Israeli Police Forms ‘Jewish Terror’ Branch In The West Bank,” saying:
Netanyahu “form(ed) a unit” to deal with “Jewish Terrorism….” Allegedly it’s to curb settler violence. Previous measures did nothing. Policies with teeth didn’t follow rhetoric.
Protecting Jews alone matters. Palestinians are on their own. It’s been that way during 45 years of occupation. Netanyahu changed nothing. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. In Palestine, there is none.
On October 11, B’Tselem headlined “Five attacks on olive harvesters and damaged olive groves in four days,” saying:
Events suggest “that Security forces (aren’t) prepared (or don’t care about) protect(ing) Palestinian olive harvesters and their property from settler violence.”
In Ramallah and Nablus regions from October 7 - 10, B’Tselem “document five cases of injury to Palestinian farmers and their olive trees….”
Three other similar incidents occurred. Olive trees were either damaged or stolen. Several attacks occurred in full view of nearby Israeli forces. They witnessed them and did nothing.
In two farmer attacks, they violated IDF and High Court instructions. They “prohibit closing off areas to Palestinian farmers and removing (those) attacked by settlers.” Security forces are supposed to investigate these type incidents. Instead they ignore them.
On October 7, 25 olive trees belonging to Abu Fahaida family members were destroyed. The Zayit Ra’anan outpost lies 500 meters from their land. Extremist settlers infest it.
Some showed up the previous day. They confronted family members. Israeli security forces are stationed nearby. Palestinians asked for protection but got none. Following the incident, they complained to police. They’re assured no help there either.
On October 7, ten masked settlers attacked Beitillu village farmers. They came from the nearby Nahliel settlement. They’re suspected of setting their field ablaze.
On October 9, Farata and Amatin area farmers arrived on their land to harvest olives. It’s located near the Havat Gilad outpost. On arrival, they discovered that unknown persons stole their trees and crops.
About 220 trees were taken. Around 130 belonged to Ibrahim Salah. He complained to police with help from Yesh Din human rights volunteers. More on their new vandalism report below.
B’Tselem said Salah can’t reach his land “without prior coordination with the army due to the proximity of the Havat Gilad outpost.” Jewish settler rights alone matter.
On October 9, Qaryut residents discovered over 80 olive trees owned by 10 families severely damaged. Their land lies two km from the Eli settlement. Rabbis for Human Rights reported the incident. They try to help but have little success. Israeli authorities turn a blind eye.
On October 10, Ratib Na’asan, an al-Mughayir village resident, discovered about 100 olive trees he owns damaged. Most were “denuded down to the trunk.”
In an adjacent plot owned by his brother, Jamil, 40 trees were vandalized.
B’Tselem documented earlier incidents. They happen regularly. The only time charges followed, it said, was when one of its volunteers videotaped settlers stealing olives. Perhaps it was evidence too compelling to ignore. It’s also another example of the exception proving the rule.
Even soil is fair game for theft. On October 12, Maan News headlined “West Bank settlers ‘stealing soil’ from Palestinians,” saying:
Israeli authorities ignore it. An unnamed police official said nothing can be done to curb this type theft. In other words, he doesn’t care. Truckloads of Palestinian soil were reported stolen from various locations. Each load is worth 2,000 shekels.
On October 12, Yesh Din headlined “Investigation of vandalism of Palestinian trees: One indictment in 162 investigations,” saying:
Like B’Tselem, Yesh Din documents vandalism. It’s done it since 2005. Only once did charges follow. They came over four years after the incident occurred.
So-called investigations conducted were whitewashes. Rhetoric substituted for action. Settlers are free to commit “ideological” crimes. Palestinians are fair game. They’re denied inviolable international law rights.
Yesh Din, B’Tselem, and other human rights groups show how egregiously they’re treated. Abuses happen regularly out of sight and mind to most people not paying attention.
Western media largely ignore them. Israeli authorities don’t care. Fatah ones do little or nothing to help. Imagine living this way from day to day.
Imagine not knowing whether your property will be safe, destroyed or stolen. Imagine being unsure from dawn to dusk if you and family members will be safe.
Imagine daily fear and insecurity. For Palestinians, it’s their way of life. Most Israelis and Western residents can’t imagine what they endure. Somehow they persist and press on. One day they hope to live free.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.