Last February, a Jerusalem
Fund/Palestine Center (PC) report titled "When Settlers Attack" discussed
data collected from 2004 to 2011. It includes over 3,700 separate incidents.
It explains when, how, and why they occur.
PC discovered a disturbing increase in violence. Palestinian civilians
are targeted. Northern rural West Bank villages are most affected.
Each year, attacks peak during olive harvest season. Most aren't "price
tag" revenge incidents. They're structural and systemic. They're occupation
Over 90% of areas experiencing violence are under Israeli security jurisdiction.
According to PC's executive director Yousef Munayyer:
"The dramatic rise in settler violence in the last several years demands
investigation and analysis into why this happens."
"We believe our report is the most comprehensive undertaking regarding
settler violence and we hope it can move the general discussion about
this important issue forward while also advancing policy formulation
aimed at ending settler violence and protecting Palestinian civilians
and their property."
"With a 300 percent+ increase in settler violence of the past five years
and nearly 2.7 incidents per day in 2011, settler violence presents
a daily challenge to Palestinians."
Increasing Israeli setter violence directly and consistently threatens
Palestinian civilians and their property.
From 2010 - 2011, incidents increased 39%. From 2007 - 2011, it's up
315%. Over the same period, Palestinian violence decreased 95%.
Geographically dispersed West Bank violence is shifting. Earlier, incidents
occurred mostly in southern areas. In recent years, northern locations
are increasingly targeted.
Incidents peak seasonally during olive harvest. Working in olive groves
makes Palestinians easy targets.
Arson attacks are increasing in numbers and frequency. In 2005, they
represented about 6% of attacks. In 2011, they rose to 11%.
The vast majority of settler attacks are structurally related to occupation.
Greater number of settlers increase their frequency.
PC's data comes mainly from Palestine Monitoring Group (PMG) reports.
It's an "inter-agency group of Palestinian civilian ministries and security
Established in August 2003, PMG monitors ground conditions in the West
Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Catalogued daily, it's an invaluable
Violence includes "price tag" attacks. Settlers use the term to describe
retaliations relating to Israeli government actions limiting their political
goals. Palestinians bear their brunt.
From September 2004 - December 2011, 3,700 incidents occurred. They're
catalogued by time, type, location, number of injuries and/or deaths,
and settlements of origin. Every West Bank governorate is affected.
Key is that Israeli and Palestinian security forces do little to protect
civilians from violence. They're largely vulnerable on their own. They
live in a virtual war zone.
For example, on August 23, Al Haq headlined "Escalation in Settler Violence:
Molotov Cocktail Severely Injures Palestinian family," saying:
Days earlier, "an Israeli settler threw a Molotov cocktail into a Palestinian
taxi." Ghayatha family members were severely injured. Some are in critical
Basem Ghayatha saw an Israeli settler in Orthodox dress walk through
nearby bushes. Within two meters of the taxi, he threw the explosive.
It set the vehicle ablaze. Basem lost control. He crashed into a roadside
safety barrier. Passengers were trapped for several minutes engulfed
Jamila's plastic shoes melted to the floor. She struggled to get out.
Her daughter Iman followed. A passing car driver called an ambulance.
Family members were taken to Jersulem's Haddasa 'Ein Karim Hospital.
Everyone suffered severe burns. Ayman is most critical. Hasan's condition
is severe. Six-year old Muhammad sustained burns over 35% of his hands
and back. Basem got second degree burns on his face and third degree
ones on his hands. Family members are still recovering.
Israeli soldiers protect settlers. They enjoy virtual impunity. Palestinians
are vulnerable to everything from routine vandalism to
arson and murder. Who can they turn to for help with no willing source.
According to Al Haq:
"The consistent failure of the Israeli authorities to act with due diligence
has encouraged an increase in settler attacks against Palestinians."
As occupying power, Israel is responsible for "protect(ing) the occupied
Palestinian population." It "therefore (must) conduct thorough investigations,
bring those responsible to justice and punish them if found guilty."
Israeli authorities scoff at these obligations and ignore them. As a
result, Palestinians suffer horrifically from settler attacks alone.
On August 19, the London Guardian headlined "Jewish settler attacks
on Palestinians listed as 'terrorist incidents' by US," saying:
For the first time, the State Department classified them this way. Israeli
officials also condemned them. In July, EU parliamentarians denounced
settler violence. They also demanded "an immediate end to house demolitions,
evictions, and forced displacement of Palestinians."
In mid-August, Maxwell Gaylard, Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle
East peace and humanitarian/development activities, expressed concern
for the dire humanitarian situation affecting almost 1,000 South Hebron
In all cases, rhetoric substitutes for policy. Culpable settlers aren't
punished. They're free to commit crimes with impunity. They've done
it for decades. So have Israeli security forces. Condemnations without
teeth are worthless. Palestinians suffer horrendously as a result.
In contrast, their violence on Jews brings severe recrimination, prosecutions
and imprisonment. Harsh penalties follow routine incidents. Justice
isn't Israel's long suit or America's.
In June, B'Tselem discussed settler violence. It comes in various forms.
Land, crops, and other property are damaged or destroyed. Palestinians
are harmed and sometimes killed.
B'Tselem documented numerous incidents. They include blocking roads,
throwing stones at cars and homes, raiding Palestinian villages and
land, torching fields, uprooting trees, damaging other property, and
causing injuries or deaths.
Security forces do practically nothing to help. At times, during witnessed
incidents, they don't intervene. They're slow investigating reported
violence. Reports when they're issued whitewash them.
During one September 2011 period, B'Tselem documented 10 incidents.
They included damaging Palestinian property, torching a mosque, and
spraying offensive graffiti on walls of two others.
Rather than restricting violent settlers, Israeli security forces "imposed
restrictions on Palestinians."
Israel is obligated to maintain order and protect Palestinian security.
Its High Court ruled that "protecting the security and property of the
local residents is one of the most important basic obligations placed
upon the military commander in the field."
It added that defense officials must "give clear, unequivocal instructions
to the forces that are deployed in the field." They must also "allocate
forces to protect the property of the Palestinian residents (HCJ 9593/04
Murar et al. v. IDF Commander for Judea and Samaria et al.)"
The ruling fell on deaf ears. Policy didn't change.
Recent reports like these are commonplace:
Settler runs over Palestinian child. Doctors called her injuries moderate.
She could have been killed.
Seventeen-year old Jamal Juliani and three cousins were victimized by
dozens of Israeli youths. Onlookers didn't intervene. Juliani was hospitalized
unconscious. Days later, he was well enough to be released.
Settlers attacked elderly Palestinian near Hebron. He was treated at
Hebron Hospital. In a separate incident, two settler teens firebombed
a car near Hebron. PA official Ghassan Doughlas warned Palestinians
to be cautious.
Over half a million settlers live on Occupied Palestinian territory.
Most don't make trouble. Extremist ones look for it. They know they
can act with impunity. Institutionalized racism terrorizes Palestinians.
They have no place to hide for safety.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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