The rampage of right-wing activists, hilltop youths and their supporters following the death of Ahuvia Sandak from the settlement of Bat Ayin, who died after his car flipped over during a police chase, is becoming increasingly violent and out of control. In stark contrast, the government and police are displaying indifference and incompetence. In recent days, Palestinian vehicles have been stoned almost nightly. Policemen have been assaulted at demonstrations and police cars vandalized. There was also an attempt to torch a police building. Several policemen who were in that chase have received protection, due to concern that they would be the targets of revenge attacks.
Security-related sources told Haaretz that these protests have run wild and that the silence of the politicians is being interpreted as support for the rioters. This obviously didn’t stop Public Security Minister Amir Ohana from paying a condolence call to Sandak’s home and further weaken the police’s standing in the eyes of the right-wing rioters.
The Judea and Samaria police division, Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet have hardly lifted a finger in this matter. The violence is now directed at the police, yet no one has the courage to bring a halt to these riots and arrest the perpetrators. The warning regarding the loss of control over the situation should raise the alarm and impel the defense establishment to take action.
At the same time, it behooves the prime minister and relevant cabinet members to strongly condemn such violence. It is unacceptable that fear of the hilltop youth and the people behind them in the Yesha Council continues to paralyze the police and even the cabinet. Silence and inaction can lead to serious bloodshed, if the rioting is not stopped in time.
The settlers have always viewed the occupied territories as their private, lawless domain, in which they are permitted to do as they please and operate as militias backed by the IDF. They can steal land, abuse farmers, destroy property, uproot and burn trees, wound and sometimes kill. They know that no harm will befall them.
Their violence has now risen to a new level, targeting government institutions. But instead of taking a strong hand against the rioters and strongly condemning them, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to apologize to Sendak’s parents. Thus he gives the settlers legitimacy to continue behaving however they like in their anarchic preserve.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.