An Orgy of Violence and Closed Cases

The police, prosecution and army must immediately order the reopening of all the investigations of attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank that were closed on bizarre pretexts.

AP

The heads of Israel Police, the state prosecution and the Israel Defense Forces must prove it wasn’t crocodile tears they shed after the burning to death of the members of the Dawabsheh family. Only real action will convince us that their shock is not just a media product with a short shelf-life.

The proof is simple: They must immediately order the reopening of all the investigations of attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank that were closed on strange and bizarre pretexts. Just as it is possible to reopen a fatal hit-and-run case, so it is possible and indeed essential to renew the investigations of those hundreds of cases.

After all, organizations like B’Tselem-The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights and Rabbis for Human Rights have been warning for years about the arbitrary, unjustified and unjust closing of about 92 percent of complaints of Jewish attacks on Palestinians.

Here are three examples of attacks perpetrated by Jewish Israelis: On April 9, 2011, a group of Israelis came down from the Givat Ronen outpost and attacked Bruce Lee Eid, who was 37 at the time, from the village of Burin south of Nablus. This was one attack among many aimed at preventing inhabitants of Burin from building on their lands. One of the Israelis shot Eid and gravely wounded him in his abdomen and right arm.

Since then, he has been undergoing a long series of operations and his ability to earn a living is limited. Soldiers arrived on the scene when the Palestinians tried to defend themselves and threw stones at their Israeli attackers. The soldiers fired tear gas at the Palestinians. A B’Tselem volunteer documented the attackers on film. However, the case was closed and the appeal of its closure was rejected.

On August 20, 2011, Bassam al Hadalin, who was 12 years old at the time, went out to herd the family’s flock on a hill below the Migron outpost. His neighbor Ali, who joined him in the herding, fell asleep under a tree. Bassam was watching the flock from the opening of a cave when suddenly masked men with long hair and curly side locks appeared brandishing black iron or wooden pipes. They fell upon him and beat him in the head. One of them beat him on the back with a stone. Another beat one of the goats with a stone and killed her. Bassam suffered deep cuts in his head and needed 35 stitches.

When Ali returned to the scene with police investigators on that same day, they encountered young Israelis singing inside a stone structure. Thirteen of them were arrested and released the following day. The investigation was closed.

On October 21, 2011, Israeli activists from Combatants for Peace accompanied farmers from the village of Jaloud – it was the first time in a decade that the villagers were allowed to harvest olives on their land. All those years settlers from the so-called Shiloh Valley outposts had, with the help of the army, violently blocked their access to the land. About five minutes after the harvest began a number of masked Israelis appeared, accompanied by an armed man in civilian clothes and without a mask, perhaps the military security coordinator. They shouted: “Get out of here, this is our land,” and threw a stun grenade at the harvesters. There were also shots fired into the air. Stones flew in both directions and the masked men embarked on an orgy of beatings with cudgels they carried. They wounded three of the Combatants for Peace activists (a man of 61 and two women), and at least two villagers. Soldiers and Border Police who were at the scene fired tear gas and stun grenades at the Palestinians. The activists’ cameras documented the incident. This case, too, was closed.

Parallel to reopening all the cases it is also essential to immediately appoint an independent team to investigate all the police officers and prosecutors who ordered their closure. The findings must be open to the public, including the names of those who closed the cases. If these steps are not taken, we will know that the arsonist-murderers, the IDF, the police, the State Prosecutor’s Office and their commanders in the government are full accomplices to the crimes that have been and will be committed, with one shared aim.