Israel’s ‘price tag’ terrorism has tactical political goals

Jonathan Cook writes: Violent, so-called “price tag” attacks by Jewish settlers have become a staple of life for Palestinian communities over the past few months. The latest is the torching this week of a mosque in the village of Jaba, close to the city of Ramallah.

Palestinians in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control live with settler neighbours who beat and shoot them, set alight fields, poison wells, kill livestock and steal crops. These acts of terror have begun to spread elsewhere: homes, cars, cemeteries, mosques and churches are now targets in East Jerusalem and Israel too. Earlier this month a school and several cars were vandalised in Neve Shalom, the only genuinely mixed Jewish-Arab community in Israel.

Invariably the “price” invoked by the settlers is unrelated to any Palestinian action. Instead Palestinians are punished indiscriminately for the smallest concession the settlers fear Israel might make in the diplomatic arena.

Superficially, the settlers’ behaviour looks like a particularly vicious form of tantrum-throwing, but there are tangible benefits to be gained from the trail of destruction they leave behind.

They provided a clue to their reasoning, as they always do in “price-tag” attacks, on the walls of Jaba’s mosque. In black spray-paint, they spelt out their grievance: “Ulpana”.

Ulpana, also near Ramallah and home to 30 Jewish families, is a settler “outpost” – one of more than 100 such settlements-in-the-making that are scattered across the West Bank. Unlike a similar number of much larger and more established settlements, which are illegal under international law, the outposts violate Israeli law too.

After years of petitions from human-rights groups, Israel’s Supreme Court has reluctantly ruled recently that Ulpana must be removed. D-Day for the settlers, July 1, is rapidly approaching.

The torching of the mosque – the settlers’ trump card – was intended chiefly as a reminder to Israel’s right-wing government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, that any move against them risks triggering a round of intensified violence that will further damage Israel’s image with the international community.

But it was also designed to dampen the enthusiasm of the courts for further costly run-ins with settlers. The Supreme Court, settlers hope, will be in no hurry to enforce the destruction of future Ulpanas. [Continue reading…]

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One thought on “Israel’s ‘price tag’ terrorism has tactical political goals

  1. dickerson3870

    RE: “Israel’s ‘price tag’ terrorism has tactical political goals”

    ALSO 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…


    *P.S. RE: “…the report found the Israeli government guilty of ‘institutional lawbreaking’ …”

    BRANDEIS ON ‘BLOWBACK’: Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis elaborated in Olmstead v. United States (1928):

    “In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

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