IDF Continues Mass West Bank Arrests in Wake of Itamar Massacre

According to reports from Palestinian news agencies, the IDF took all men from the West Bank village of Awarta in for questioning.

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service continued to make wholesale arrests Monday in the West Bank village of Awarta, following the attack Friday night in the nearby settlement of Itamar, in which five members of the same family were murdered.

Meanwhile, groups of settlers tried to damage several houses in the Palestinian village.


According to reports from Palestinian news agencies, the IDF took all Awarta men in for questioning.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Monday condemned the murder in Itamar, telling Israel Radio that it was a despicable, immoral and inhuman act. Abbas' office had already issued a condemnation of the murder on Saturday, but it was not in his own voice and the language was not as emphatic.

"A human being is not capable of something like that," Abbas said Monday in an interview with Israel Radio. "Scenes like these - the murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered - cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt and to cry."

Residents of the village of Burin, who have fallen victim to settlers' attacks several times, told Haaretz on Saturday that the murder in Itamar was an abominable act. Palestinian columnists, journalists and private citizens also sharply denounced the attack.

The Palestinian leadership, however, remained hesitant. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said he objected to all acts of violence, but the leaders implied the incident in Itamar may not have been a terror attack. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said no Palestinian had ever murdered an infant or civilians in such a manner, either for nationalist causes or in revenge, "which raises doubts regarding Israel's haste to accuse the Palestinians."

Malki's statement led to rumors on the Palestinian side, culminating Monday with Palestinian websites reporting Israeli police had arrested a Thai worker on suspicion of murdering the Fogel family.

At this point, though, all the signs indicate the Itamar massacre was a terror attack. Malki seems to have forgotten the dozens of attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists - intent on killing children, women and old people. In November 2002, Sirhan Sirhan entered a house in Kibbutz Metzer and murdered a mother and her two children, aged 4 and 5, after killing another man and woman. This is just one example of several.

The difference in Abbas' tone in his second condemnation was no accident. In the past 24 hours, Israel has demanded that the Palestinians stop stuttering. Abbas knew he could no longer keep silent in view of the horrific pictures from Itamar.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday repeated his demand that Abbas act to stop the incitement. Abbas' people have reduced the incitement in mosques and schools, but it hasn't stopped entirely. The PA's silence on the decision to name a sports center in the al-Amari refugee camp after a suicide bomber cannot be met with understanding.