For the second consecutive week, armed Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian villagers and torched their fields in the northern region of the West Bank as Israeli occupation troops were looking on passively.
According to international law, the safety and security of people under occupation is the responsibility of the occupying power. However, in most cases, Israeli army troops don’t content themselves with watching settlers shoot and murder Palestinians and vandalise their property, they also collude in and coordinate terror against Palestinians.
On the other hand, occupation troops immediately intervene with full force whenever assaulted Palestinians put up any semblance of resistance to settler violence, or even when they seek to put out fires set by the settlers.
One local Palestinian farmer said: “From the Israeli view point, we are supposed to be killed quietly and silently. This is the unwritten message Israel is communicating to us.”
“And Israel keeps claiming it is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and the stupid Americans and Europeans readily swallow the big lie.”
On Saturday, 25 May, settler thugs from the settlement of Yitzhar shot and seriously wounded a young villager from the nearby village of Orif near Nablus, after manacling his hands to his back.
A local eyewitness named Muntaser Safadi said he saw dozens of settlers set fire to wheat fields, ready for harvest, outside the village of Orif. And when village youngsters sought to extinguish the fire, armed settlers started shooting at them. Israeli troops, watching the incident unfold, also began shooting at the Palestinians in order to keep them a safe distance from the settlers.
Several villagers sustained gunshot wounds while others suffered from smoke inhalation. The entire incident was caught on film, prompting the Israeli army to order an investigation, ostensibly for public relations reasoning.
Meanwhile, the guard of the settlement shot and seriously wounded a 22-year-old Palestinian named Najeh Assad Safadi. Settlers kicked Safadi as he was bleeding heavily. He was then transferred to hospital in Nablus where his condition was described as “very serious”.
A Palestinian official who monitors settler violence said at least eight Palestinians were injured, one seriously. The official, Ghassan Daghlas, said the attacking settlers opened fire on Palestinian villagers as part of their military training.
Many of the attacking settlers were only 15-17 years of age, eyewitnesses said.
Daghlas said the settlers’ ultimate goal was to force Palestinian villagers out of the area so that settlers could take over their homes and lands. “The Jews experienced one Kristalnacht in Germany in 1938. But here every night is a Kristalnacht. The Jewish version of the Hitler Youth is given carte blanche to terrorise and persecute unarmed and unprotected Palestinians.”
The governor of Nablus, Jebril Bakri, admitted that Palestinians living in Area C, which is controlled by the Israeli army, were effectively at the mercy of settlers. “I call upon the international community to protect our people from the terror and violence of these murderous savages. We just can’t entrust the task of protecting our people to the Israeli occupation army. The occupation army and the settlers are two sides of the same coin. The snake wouldn’t bite its tail.”
Palestinian Authority security forces lack the ability and “legal framework” to protect Palestinians from settler violence. According to agreements and understandings with Israel, Palestinian security forces must not confront settlers under any circumstances, even if they are seen shooting Palestinians. The Palestinian security’s sole mission is confined to maintaining internal “Palestinian security,” such as arresting opponents of the peace process.
The settlement of Yitzhar near Nablus is considered a hotbed of Jewish terror and extremism and the Israeli occupation army has always had difficulties pacifying settlers there. Most of the settlers are indoctrinated in racist Talmudic ideology that teaches that non-Jews living in Palestine-Israel must be enslaved to Jews as water carriers and woodcutters, expelled, or physically exterminated. On several occasions, the settles of Yitzhar tried to poison Palestinian wells and cisterns as well as livestock, and torch and vandalise fields and orchards.
In the past, two or three decades ago, the Israeli army exercised some authority over the settlers. However, the occupation army lost nearly all its authority over settler thugs as the Netanyahu government, which many Israelis call a government of settlers, by settlers and for settlers, passed laws obliging the army to treat settlers with extreme leniency. In fact, it is the army that fears settlers, not the other way around, as the settlers are backed by powerful politicians in government.
In an unrelated development, Palestinian sources revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities have been planting thousands of fake Jewish tombs around Al-Aqsa Mosque esplanade in the Old City of Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa Association for Waqf (Endowments) and Heritage said that fake Jewish graves were placed across a large area, including the Mount of Olives, Wadi Silwan and Wadi Al-Rababa.
Over the years, the Israeli occupation authorities erected dozens of small synagogues around Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) in order to squeeze Arab demography and cut Al-Aqsa Mosque off from Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. The bulk of the area in which the fake graves are being planted is Islamic Waqf property.
Israel has always behaved reprehensively, indeed criminally, vis-à-vis Muslim and Christian heritage property. Israel has also upturned many Muslim cemeteries, some dating back to early Islamic periods. Israel is now building a “museum of tolerance” on top of Muslim graves at the Maamanu-Allah Cemetery in West Jerusalem.
Originally published in Al-Ahram Weekly