Settler violence in a time of security

Larry Derfner writes:

Right-wing violence in Israel is always provoked by something, we’ve been told. The murders of Palestinian laborers and Israeli Arab bus passengers by two settlers during the disengagement from Gaza was provoked, of course, by the disengagement from Gaza. The drive-by murders of Palestinians during the second intifada were provoked by the second intifada. The Rabin assassination and the two-year hate campaign that preceded it were provoked by the Oslo accord and Palestinian terror attacks. The Hebron massacre by Baruch Goldstein was provoked by the Oslo accord and Palestinan terror attacks. The Jewish terror underground of the early 1980s, involving shootings of Palestinian mayors and college students, as well as an attempt to bomb a Palestinian bus and a plot to blow up the Temple Mount, was provoked by the pullout from Sinai following the peace treaty with Egypt.

There’s always a reason, supposedly. Jewish blood is being spilled by terrorists, the Left is giving the country away to the enemy, the settlers and their allies are being driven to extremes, they’re being backed against the wall, so they’re lashing out in desperation.

This is a popular notion in this country. So why has settler violence been going through the roof again, most recently in Sunday night’s “price tag” torching of a mosque in the Galilee Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria? Life for Jews in Israel and the West Bank has never been safer than it’s been for the last few years. Palestinian security forces have been working with the Shin Bet and Israeli army to shut down terror, to throw Hamasniks in jail, to even keep big protest rallies from taking place.

Meanwhile, the peace process couldn’t be deader. The Israeli government could hardly be more right-wing. The administration in Washington could hardly be more craven, while Congress has become indistinguishable from the Yesha Council.

The Palestine Monitor reports:

Settler violence has continued to increase in recent months, mostly within the West Bank but inside Israel as well. Attacks on Palestinian property—notably olive trees, agricultural land and mosques—and physical attacks have intensified.

Tensions in the run up to the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN and the demolition of the illegal settler outpost of Migron are the most recent reasons for the spike in settler violence.

A settler car hit two nursing students, 19-year-old Ahlam Bilal Hamad and her 18-year-old sister, Saja, on the road from Ramallah to Nablus on 4 October. The car hit the girls as they were crossing the street, the girls said. They have both been hospitalized.

A Jewish settler ran over a Palestinian man this morning near Frush Beit Dajan, a village east of Nablus in the northern West Bank, local sources said.

On Monday morning Jewish extremists burnt down a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangariya in the northern Galilee. The building was completely gutted and most of the Korans inside destroyed. The attackers left a message on the wall reading, “Price tag. Palmer. Revenge,” in reference to the death of a Jewish settler named Palmer who was killed in a car crash near Hebron recently. The Israeli police declared the crash was caused by youth throwing stones at the car.

Last month, settlers from the illegal Esh Kodesh outpost set fire to a mosque in Kusra, a village near the West Bank city of Nablus, also labeled as a “price tagging attack.”

In June, Jewish extremists attacked a mosque in the Bedouin village of Ibtin, near the mixed Palestinian-Jewish city of Haifa, on Israel’s northern coastline.

In addition to arson attack on mosques, settlers routinely destroy Palestinians’ olive trees, uprooting or burning them. In the first week of September, for example, OCHA reported the destruction of 390 olive and grape trees, bringing the number of destroyed trees to 6,680 since the start of 2011.

Over 500 olive trees were burned in Ramallah and Hebron on Saturday night, Maan news reported.

83 dunams of land has been burned and 40 dunams of agricultural land flooded in the month of September, Maan also reported.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s security and intelligence body, has discovered evidence of the formation of terrorist cells among settler communities, whose primary objective is the targeting of Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, the Independent reported in September.

Sources from the Shin Bet have said extreme right wing activists are attempting to deter defense officials and civil servants by using intimidation and smear campaigns against them, Haaretz reported on Monday.

According to Haaretz, defense officials have said that well known far right activists have been involved in the attack on mosques in the West Bank, 12 of whom have been banned from entering the Palestinian territories.

Dr. Mustapha Barghouti commented, “What we are witnessing now is organized terrorist settler groups that are attacking Palestinian civilians. These attacks are planned and organized, their goal to terrorize Palestinian communities.”

“Their aim is to frighten civilians, especially people in villages, to force them to leave their land and frighten them into not returning,” he added.

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