The number of hate crimes by Jews against Palestinians has plummeted since the arrest of suspects in the arson-murder at the Dawabsheh home in Duma last December, according to police and Shin Bet security service statistics.
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Dozens of settlers have been forbidden from entering the West Bank in the intervening period and the number of restraining orders issued against Jews has tripled.
Police have issued 51 administrative orders this year, compared to 45 for all of 2015, 14 in 2014 and 13 in 2013. Most of these orders involve restraining orders barring far-right Israelis from entering parts or all of the West Bank.
There have been three hate crimes by Jews since the Duma incident, according to the Shin Bet, only one of them in 2016. By contrast, there were 14 such crimes in 2015 before the Duma incident. There were 16 serious hate crimes in 2014, 25 in 2013 and 18 in 2012.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which tracks both political and non-political acts, concurs that the number of violent attacks by Jews against Palestinians has declined drastically in the past two years.
OCHA has registered 323 such attacks, 107 of which resulted in injuries, in 2014. That figure dropped to 227 attacks, 97 of which involved people getting injured, in 2015. The respective numbers for 2016 so far have fallen to 58 and 21.
Abed Snober, who lives with his family in the most southwesterly home in the village of Yatma, adjacent to the settlement of Rehalim in the northern West Bank, says that residents feel the new reality.
Previously, settlers would often come right up to his house, which is only a few dozen meters from the settlement’s entrance, and curse him and his wife, he said.
Anonymous people would set fire to his neighbor’s field two or three times a year. “It happened a lot in the summer, every summer,” he recalled. “They would arrive, and once they slapped my wife. Once they wanted to mix our olive oil with the wheat. They would take advantage when I’d be away at work.”
Things have changed over the past few months, Snober said. Settlers still draw near to his home and try to frighten him and his family and to curse him, but no one has set fire to the fields. “There is less violence, now,” he attests. “And still in Ramadan they would come almost every day to play with our minds.”
Officials with the Shin Bet and police attribute the drop in anti-Palestinian violence to the surge in the use of administrative orders. Members of the hilltop youth movement also said in a conversation with Haaretz that the violent acts against Palestinians didn’t die out spontaneously.
They told Haaretz that on the hills and in the remote outposts, they feel that “the owner has gone mad,” as one youth put it. Youths on the fringes who reside in these places have been removed from the West Bank en masse.
Restraining orders issued by the police and the Shin Bet seem to have been vey effective, but clearly only in the short term. Even the most draconian order can’t keep a person away forever, and while dozens of violent hilltop youth were removed from the West Bank last year, a younger generation is sprouting naturally as new youths replace them in the remote tents that serve as a refuge for many of them.
The settler establishment is proud of the drop in the level of violence. They say it is proof that the so-called “price tag” phenomenon of hate crimes is nothing but the product of a few dozen isolated youths on the fringes of society.
However, even among the settlers there are those who say that the problem runs much deeper. It is clear that the administrative restraining orders that expelled the most problematic Jewish terrorists and scared off others are only a temporary solution, they say.
“Administrative orders, which violate human liberty without judicial review, are anti-democratic,” said Itzhak Bam, an attorney who represents some of the youths who have been removed from the West Bank.
Law enforcement officials rejected the assertions against restraining orders,which are issued by a general in consultation with the Shin Bet.
“In practice,” a security forces official said, “all these orders are subject to judicial review, which can be appealed to an appeal committee.”