Why won’t Israel prevent settler violence?

Yousef Munayyer writes: The recent drama in Israeli politics surrounding the fate of the Ulpana neighbourhood of the illegal Beit El settlement in the occupied West Bank includes a great degree of political theatre, but the climax of this particular play is yet to be seen.

Yes, a decision has been made to remove a very small number of houses from one settlement (and build 850 more in other areas), and the “evacuation” that will take place will likely be a contentious event. Still, it is the theatrics that follow the evacuation that I will be focused on – which might tell us everything we need to know about the Israeli government. At that moment, it will be Israeli settler violence that is at centre stage, along with the Israeli government’s non-response.

For several years I have been studying Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property throughout the occupied territories. The upcoming moment of evacuation from Ulpana sets an all-too-familiar sequence of events into motion. Israeli settlers who sought to deter government actions that limit settler objectives, such as demolitions or evacuations, have maintained a “price tag” policy. This is the use of violence, overwhelmingly against Palestinians, to “exact a price” for any settlement homes from which occupants have been removed.

Over the course of studying settler violence and amassing a database of violent settler incidents, my colleagues and I have been able to study several trends and factors which lead to settler violence, including the nature of “price tag” attacks. We parsed Israeli government announcements from Israeli government actions; the former being announcements by state organs of decisions to evacuate settlement homes, for example, and the latter being the actual carrying out of those orders. It is important to note that actual dismantlement of settlements by the Israeli state are extremely rare, but nonetheless what we found was that Israeli government actions were the single positively correlated factor leading to settler violence.

In short, this means that the evacuation of homes in Ulpana is more or less guaranteed to trigger settler violence. So this then begs the question: what is the Israeli government going to do to protect Palestinian civilians, whom we know will be in harm’s way? In the past, the Israeli government has done next to nothing and, more often than not, looked the other way as settlers attacked Palestinian civilians. [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “Why won’t Israel prevent settler violence?

  1. dickerson3870

    RE: “Why won’t Israel prevent settler violence?”

    MY COMMENT: The settlers are in many instances terrorists, but they are the Israeli government’s terrorists. They are implementing the settlement policy of the government of Israel that is designed to foreclose a two-state solution. Consequently, the the government will not any more bring these settler terrorists to justice than it would bring the government of Israel itself to justice. They especially will not bring these settler terrorists to justice as long as the AIPAC-hogtied U.S. acts as the Israeli government’s enabler regarding such self-destructive policies as the settlement/occupation project.

    SEE: Fighting Settlers’ Impunity and Immunity, by Pierre Klochendler, Inter Press Service, 12/16/11

    (excerpts) . . . Often, settler stone-throwers confronting soldiers and Palestinians face arrest and interrogation before they’re sent home with a reprimand, or to a forced ‘exile’ in Israel proper; Palestinian stone-throwers confronting Israeli settlers or soldiers face possible death, or imprisonment.
    Since the army is not responsible for enforcing the law on Israeli citizens – the police is, together with the General Security Services (or “Shin Beth”) – rioting by settlers has continued unabated. Netanyahu decided to give the army the power to arrest radical settlers.
    Moreover, Israel’s police in the West bank show signs of helplessness, even “negligence” and “incompetence”. . .
    . . . The Israeli occupation, particularly the future of wildcat settlements built by settlers without formal government approval has been a simmering issue ever since their creation during the 1990s.
    In 2005, former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Talia Sasson published a landmark report on the question. Commissioned by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, the report found the Israeli government guilty of “institutional lawbreaking” and of the theft of private Palestinian land to covertly establish over a hundred “illegal outposts”.
    The damning irony is that the “outposts” were a 1997 initiative by none but Sharon himself, then foreign Minister under Netanyahu, who’d urged settlers to seize hilltops in order to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    The report recommended criminal investigation against those allegedly involved in the scheme, but it was shelved. Repeated injunctions have since pressed successive governments to address the issue…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://original.antiwar.com/klochendler/2011/12/15/fighting-settlers-impunity-and-immunity/

  2. Joe

    Why won’t Israel prevent settler violence?

    Because they hate Arabs and want to see them suffer.

    Just as in white rule Rhodesia/South Africa, police and army would regularly stand by when Africans were harassed, hurt and humiliated.

    Why should anyone be surprised when Israel behaves that way?

  3. Ian F Clark

    Why should the Israeli government do anything that contradicts their pressure on the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria. The result of settler violence, physical isolation of communities by barriers and Israeli-only roads, confiscation of water, application of antiquated laws, identity passes, walls that run well within the so-called Palestinian zone, and armed intimidation…the result is a form of ethnic cleansing.

    The area politics favor the Israeli government too. Egypt, under Muslim Brotherhood, is unlikely to do anything that jeopardizes their $2bn sinecure; Syria is in the process of balkanization; Iran (Hezbollah) is weakened; while Jordan, economically weak and already with a sizeable Palestinian minority is the expected safety valve to accept these unwanted people.

    It remains to keep up a steady pressure; wait for the Arab Spring dominoes to fall; rely on AIPAC, Christian fundamentalists, US military cooperation, and the capacity of the US to buy off potential aggressors.

    As Golda Meirson said “A land without a people for a people without a land.”

    The inconvenient truth is, with patience, being swept away.

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