Palestinians Denounce Itamar Murders, but Lay Criticism on Israel

In PA newspapers, denunciations of murder of 5 family members in settlement of Itamar were found alongside condemnation of Israel's approval for new settlement construction.

Many Palestinian commentators have denounced the murder of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar over the weekend, but not without noting that Israel and the settlers shared some of the blame.

In Palestinian Authority newspapers and on the social network pages of private citizens, denunciations of the murder could be found alongside condemnations of Israel's approval of the construction of 400 new homes in the settlement blocs. Many writers compared the murders to the actions of the settlers themselves.

Emil Salman

"I don't believe that the incident in Itamar is an act of resistance, but rather an act by individuals whom we condemn, in the event it was carried out by Palestinians. Stabbing children in their sleep is not a heroic act but rather that of the heartless, like some of the occupation soldiers and settlers, who murder children," Hafez Barghouti, editor-in-chief of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote on Sunday.

He added that the "real murderers in Itamar are the zealous settlers and anyone who burned a tree, vandalized the cemetery in Awarta, forced out the residents of Khirbet Yanun, took control of a plot of land or robbed an olive harvest .... The act at Itamar was a message to the occupation and to the world ... whose meaning is clear - the occupation must go."

In his regular column in the same newspaper, Adli Sadek wrote: "Without considering the fact that war criminals wearing the uniform of an army that belongs to a UN member state have killed and continue to kill Palestinians ... such an action must be condemned unequivocally and in the harshest language. This is not only because this is a crime that harms us politically and public-relations-wise and helps the extremist government cast aspersions on all of us, but also because the humanitarian character of a nation that receives aid and support from all freedom-lovers of all religions, races and nationalities does not accept such a heinous murder."

According to Sadek, "It bears repeating that the murder of children, if carried out by Palestinian hands, must not be part of the national struggle, which has generally sought ... to engage with the soldiers of the occupation and not hurt Israeli children."

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, however, was one of a number of senior PA officials who continued to imply that the Fogels were not murdered for nationalist reasons. "People and an infant were butchered in a way no Palestinian has ever done ... raising questions about Israel's rush to accuse the Palestinians," he says.

Meanwhile, a Ramallah man said on his Facebook page: "I condemn the attack in the illegal settlement of Itamar. We need to find the criminal who killed a 3-month-old baby and bring him to trial in Palestine .... I also wish the Israeli electorate would hold their government accountable for bringing their citizens to occupied territories instead of justifying collective punishments against Nablus and the surrounding villages."

The man, who asked that his full name not be published, told Haaretz that he received many responses to his remarks, all of them from people who are adamantly opposed to the murders of three of the Fogel children. He said that no one attacked him for his position.