The Landlord Is Above the Law

The truth in the land of illegal outposts is that the settlers are above the law, while the Palestinians are trampled by it

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The funeral of 38-year-old Hamdy Taleb Na'asan, January 27, 2019.
The funeral of 38-year-old Hamdy Taleb Na'asan, January 27, 2019. Credit: AFP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

There’s nothing new about the fact that none of the settlers from the Adei Ad outpost who were present at the confrontation with Palestinians Saturday in the village of Al-Mughayyir has been questioned by investigators. That the clashes led to the death of Hamdi Taleb Na’asan and to the wounding of 10 other Palestinians, three of them seriously, doesn’t change the simple truth: In the occupied territories the Palestinians are the landowners, but the settlers are the landlords.

The war of versions among the settlers, the army and the Palestinians over what transpired in Al-Mughayyir could give a false impression that Israel gives similar weight to each, or a false hope that there is an Israeli law enforcement agency that will investigate the events without bias and that its conclusions will be fair. The truth in the land of illegal outposts is that the settlers are above the law, while the Palestinians are trampled by it. The expectation that the Judea and Samaria District Police will seek the truth is as naive as the belief that the Israel Defense Forces will investigate itself.

>> Palestinians recall settlers dressed in white firing at them, as soldiers stood by ■ When the rule of law in the West Bank gives in to lawbreakers | Analysis ■  The true objective of Jewish terror | Opinion

It’s no surprise that the Judea and Samaria Police summoned the outpost’s security squad to give statements without questioning any of them as a possible suspect. Their guns were confiscated for ballistic testing, but they were given replacements. In other words, this incident did nothing to shake the blind belief of the police that in the territories it’s always the settlers who need protection, not the Palestinians.

The United Nations envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, said in response to Saturday’s incident that “Israel must put an end to settler violence and bring those responsible to justice.” But Mladenov’s words fall on deaf ears. Sovereign Israel has long ago fallen hostage to the settlement enterprise. It is failing in its international obligation to protect the occupied population under its responsibility, making Palestinian lives forfeit, along with their land and property.

Hamdi Taleb Na'asan

The fact that the security squads in the settlements and outposts operate without supervision, sometimes as armed militias that do in the territories as they please, should bother the Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service. But instead of tightening their supervision or completely dismantling them, the police encourage and accept the culture of settler lawlessness. Within Israel proper, the police are not afraid to investigate a prime minister, but before the settlers they shake like leaves in the wind. The Shin Bet does not regard these attacks as terrorism and sets a high bar for taking action to thwart them. In the absence of a responsible government, when the settlers act like gangs, these institutions must halt Jewish terrorism, just as they act effectively against Palestinian terrorism.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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