U.S. State Department defines settler violence as terrorism

Haaretz reports: A report by the U.S. State Department defines, for the first time, violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the West Bank as acts of terrorism.

The Country Reports on Terrorism, which under U.S. law is produced annually by the State Department and presented to the U.S. Congress, was published two weeks ago. It contained a chapter on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

A section of the report entitled “Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism” addressed so-called “price-tag” attacks, which are committed primarily against Palestinians and their property by West Bank settlers.

The report mentions an attack carried out by a group of Israeli settlers against the IDF’s Efraim Regional Brigade headquarters in the West Bank.

That attack “sparked a public debate in Israel on the phenomenon of settler violence; political and security officials pledged to implement several steps to curb and punish these violent attacks,” according to the report.

The report also notes that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak labeled such attacks as having the characteristics of terrorist acts. Former IDF Head of Central Command Avi Mizrahi is also mentioned describing attacks against Palestinians and against their property as “terror.”

During 2011, the report says, ten mosques in the West Bank and in Jerusalem were set on fire – a dramatic increase compared to past years, following “six such incidents in 2010 and one in 2009.” The report also states that Israeli authorities believe that the attacks were “perpetrated by settlers.”

The Associated Press reports: Six Palestinians have been wounded in a suspected firebomb attack by Jewish extremists in the West Bank, the Israeli military said.

The six were traveling in a taxi Thursday night when the firebomb was allegedly thrown into the car. The military suspects Jewish extremists to be behind the attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the firebombing, saying Israel “will do everything to catch those responsible and bring them to justice.”

Haaretz reports: Dozens of Jewish youths attacked three young Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Zion Square early on Friday morning, in what one witness described as “a lynch” on Facebook.

One of the Palestinians was seriously wounded and hospitalized in intensive care in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. Acting Jerusalem police chief General Menachem Yitzhaki has set up a special team to investigate the incident and detain the suspects.

The three were allegedly attacked by youths shouting “Death to the Arabs” at them, as well as other racial slurs. One of them fell on the floor, and his attackers continued to beat him until he lost consciousness. They subsequently fled from the scene.

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