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Settler Violence - a Commandment From God

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The scene of the incident in South Hebron Hills after the attack, August 25, 2018.
The scene of the incident in South Hebron Hills after the attack, August 25, 2018.Credit: B'Tselem
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The IDF spokesman did not miss the target and proved what we have known for a long time. In other words, his employer, the army, is a willing captive of the settlement enterprise and the settlers.

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In a response after the attack on six activists from Ta’ayush by about a dozen or more Israelis, (Jews), at the Mitzpeh Yair settlement outpost on the holy Sabbath of the 14th of the Jewish month of Elul, 5778, the IDF spokesman lied twice: “Friction” – that’s what he called the brutal attack, after which four of the victims required treatment in the hospital. He also claimed that the soldiers declared a closed military zone. If they did, the activists didn’t hear it.

Soldiers evacuating an injured activist after the attack in South Hebron Hills, August 25, 2018.Credit: B'Tselem

There is no group of Israeli Jewish activists that has been and is being exposed to physical attacks by the settlers more than Ta’ayush. For almost 20 years the activists of this left-wing group have been going out to the battlefields: the pastures, fields and orchards that the settlers have their eyes on.

After all, they aren’t making do with the vast plots of land that the government has stolen and is stealing for them, but are seeking to disinherit more and more Palestinians from their lands. Violence against Palestinians, accompanied by a feeling of superiority and mission on behalf of the Blessed Holy One, is a winning formula in the wide-open spaces of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Ta’ayush activists, too few, accompany Palestinian shepherds and farmers every week and try with their presence to prevent this violence. It is no wonder that the rapper The Shadow, the NGO Ad Kan and the Yesha Council hate Ta’ayush and do everything to incite more and more groups against them – such as the Israeli media.

The activists noticed that during the attack last Saturday, the reserve soldiers on the scene actually did not obey the settlers, which soldiers usually do. “You can’t tell us what to do. There is a patrol commander here,” one of the soldiers could be heard telling a settler, apparently the settlement’s security coordinator.

This was a refreshing surprise as far as the activists were concerned, who have often run into hostile soldiers, even soldiers who enjoyed their distress, and those who hurried to prevent the Palestinians from reaching the pastures and fields, on orders from their settler masters.

Not this time. The minute the soldiers raised their voices at the settlers, they yelled and told them off in the manner of “who are you to tell me what to do in my community.” When a soldier tried to grab hold of one the attacking settlers, a number of other settlers immediately rushed in and stopped him.

Despite their stance, the soldiers were unable to prevent the attack – because the army, as an institution, protects the settlers and the settler-colonial enterprise they advance with the state. The soldiers have no authority and no permission to block raging settlers, even when those attacked are other Jewish Israelis.

After all, thousands of complaints from Palestinians on the pogrom-like attacks are gathering dust on shelves in the offices of police and the prosecution – the institutions that fail to use their authority to expose and prevent crime in the West Bank.

In this atmosphere of settler supremacy, it’s no wonder the IDF spokesman called the Ta’ayush activists’ going up to the outpost a “provocation.” An identical statement was made by MK Bezalel Smotrich, darling of the outposts.

A few days before the attack, a group of settlers invaded a nearby Palestinian village, Qawawis, and immediately summoned officials of the Civil Administration. What a disaster, a Palestinian was building on his land without a permit from the High Commissioner (because Israel does not allow Palestinians to build).

About two hours before the attack, the Civil Administration and army confiscated the man’s construction tools. Obedience to the settlers overrides Shabbat.

An outpost that is built partly on private Palestinian-owned land is flourishing and prospering, while a Palestinian who builds, for lack of choice, without a permit is punished by having his property confiscated. A raid by settlers of a Palestinian village is backed up by the army and Civil Administration.

The entry of Israelis into an Israeli outpost in an attempt to document more of the settlers’ illegal, spiteful construction is a “provocation.” At the price of injuries and pain, the Ta’ayush activists proved what doesn’t really need proof: Israel is also a grandmaster at double standards.

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