Opinion |

Israel’s Theft Business Against the Palestinians Is as Thriving as Ever

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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The Border Police close a road while Palestinian protesters try to reach a settler outpost near Beit Dajan in the West Bank this month.
The Border Police close a road while Palestinian protesters try to reach a settler outpost near Beit Dajan in the West Bank this month. Credit: Nasser Nasser / AP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Reports about Jewish serial rapists are bearing fruit. More victims are daring to testify and the police are investigating. Another wall of silence is collapsing. The phallocracy isn’t what it used to be.

Reports of Jewish thugs attacking Palestinians are also bearing fruit – more funding and land are allocated for settlements and outposts. The police aren’t investigating, while the army is hunting for parrots it says were stolen. The colonialism is exactly what it used to be, except it’s more sophisticated.

There’s no need to report every incident of sexual assault or harassment. The public mood and social media make it clear to harassers and rapists that they won’t escape punishment and shaming.

In contrast, the expellers and land thieves know that nothing bad will happen to them. They’re the privatized arm of a successful state-owned robbery business and a full partner in it. In short, Zionism, to use their term for it.

The symbiosis between the “unknowns” who attacked Said Awwad’s family on Saturday on their own land, the police who won’t bother to find the assailants and the army that protects them is clear on the ground at any given moment. This is violence in broad daylight, not in secret. And this violence is carrying out policy while continuing to shape and steer it.

Last Thursday afternoon, I once again witnessed this symbiosis in all its routine, unreported aggressiveness. We were sitting in the village of Umm Lasafa and hearing from boys who had gone out to pick akkoub (Gundelia, a wild green) about how soldiers had chased them. Suddenly, a WhatsApp message arrived: Settlers had shot at two boys, shepherds, from the village of Imnezl.

We raced over there; it was just a few kilometers to the south. Soft green hills with pastureland slung between them, sheep whose tranquility sparked envy and a well-cultivated olive orchard. And on a rock sat two boys with frozen faces, with their grandmother beside them.

Five Palestinian boys who were picking plants in the West Bank last week and were arrested by Israeli soldiers. Credit: Emil Salman

“They went up the hill a little,” she recounted. “On the road above” – which leads to the Lucifer outpost or Talia Farm – “an Israeli car appeared. A man got out and shot at them. They ran back. When they got back, their hands were still shaking with fear.”

Their father called the police, who did show up, in a jeep. But the boys were never asked to give a statement.

The goal of the shooting was clear – to deter and frighten the two so they would stop pasturing their flocks there, so other people wouldn’t go there to pick plants or harvest olives. Thanks to this cumulative terrorism, one outpost or another will grab more “abandoned” land. And allow me to speculate: Nobody will look for the gunman.

After that, we drove to the army checkpoint at the southern entrance of the town of Yatta. This is the shortest route to Yatta from the southeastern part of the West Bank. The checkpoint was set up in November, ostensibly to enforce the coronavirus lockdown.

Since then, it has become a harassing, time-stealing checkpoint in every respect. The well-armed soldiers detain people, inspect their ID cards, search cars, sabotage plans. Allow me to speculate: This checkpoint is designed to make Palestinians’ lives even more difficult – especially Palestinians from Susya, who refuse to vacate their land, as the settlers and the state demand.

Nasser Nawaj’ah, a Susya resident who works as a field researcher for B’Tselem, has been detained there frequently. Last week, he was detained for two hours so he could be informed that he had been summoned by the Shin Bet security service. Two days after the agency interrogated him, he was detained again for an hour because the soldiers hadn’t removed him from the list of people summoned by the Shin Bet. He was later detained a third time for the same reason.

I was with him that time. A soldier took our ID cards, rifled through my car and purse and confiscated my car keys. Thanks to him, I had the honor of experiencing at least a fraction of the supremacist treatment that Palestinians are subjected to. Incidentally, these are the same soldiers who rushed to appease the settlers of Havat Ma’on by arresting the five boys who were picking akkoub.

And allow me to speculate: Nawaj’ah was summoned by the Shin Bet for a warning talk because he documents the widespread Israeli violence – like an incident Sunday in which Israelis attacked another boy picking akkoub between the villages of Bir al-Eid and Jinba. They stabbed his donkey and stole the plants he had picked. The terrified boy and his father said there was no point in complaining to the police.

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