With the Increasing Violence of Its Settlers Against the Palestinians, This Is How ‘Israel’ Avoids International Accountability

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Settler violence in the occupied West Bank has escalated dramatically in recent weeks, especially in December 2021.

This was confirmed by various non-governmental organizations that monitor the phenomenon, which sparked criticism from Israeli officials. While official Israeli data denies it.

The Spanish newspaper, Publico, quoted journalist Amnon Abramovich, from the Hebrew Channel 12, saying that: "The statements of the Israeli police (which deny the increase in settlers’ violence) may be true."

 

Noticeable Increase

The newspaper attributed this to the fact that "everyone knows that the Palestinians do not trust the police and do not usually report attacks," and that in fact, "reporting violence to the Israeli police could have negative repercussions for the Palestinian."

The newspaper pointed out that the statistics of the Israeli security services confirm that the year 2020 witnessed about 272 "violence incidents" by settlers against the Palestinians, while about 397 incidents were recorded until mid-December 2021.

On the other hand, the Palestinians are skeptical of these data and believe that not all violent incidents have been accounted for.

In all cases, the numbers during 2021 reveal a noticeable increase compared to the year 2020.

The newspaper added that NGOs deplore the scarcity of investigations into settler attacks, and if they do, the police tend to close the file without any judicial follow-ups.

The Israeli police interventions are limited to solving the problem. Thus, in the absence of any repercussions for the settlers, many of them are encouraged to take part in the attacks, knowing that they will not be punished.

The newspaper quoted that part of this violence is recorded and broadcast on television screens, especially social networks.

When that fact becomes more embarrassing, as it is now, even the administration of US President Joe Biden has had to discreetly ask the Israeli government to contain settlers, which in turn is causing some official reactions.

The newspaper stated that: “There are countless videos that show soldiers witnessing settlers burning Palestinian farms or cutting fruit trees, but they simply watch without doing anything accordingly with the orders given to them.”

Moreover, the same thing happens when armed settlers control the entrances to Palestinian villages.

In this regard, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told the American media in December 2021 that the extremist violence perpetrated by "rioters" against the Palestinians was a "disgrace on Israel."

"Anyone who attacks innocents is a thug and a criminal and will be treated as such," Lapid told The Atlantic, although it is clear that no one in "Israel," in general, believes in this threat.

 

External Criticism

Publico quoted that Lapid insisted in his statements that "there will be zero tolerance in this matter."

"I had a long conversation with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who will dedicate his special force to making sure that these abuses are stopped and put to an end," he added.

The newspaper noted that the Secretary of the Army himself, perhaps prompted by the Biden administration, held a meeting in November with senior military leaders who were asked to intervene.

But these maneuvers are futile because the army deployed in the occupied territories cannot touch any settler, since by law, only the police, not soldiers, can intervene when settlers commit abuses.

Overall, Lapid's comments came shortly after Labor Minister Omar Bar-Lev spoke in similar terms, which generated a lot of criticism against him, not only from the opposition and settlers but also from within the government coalition, a diverse but far-right-nationalist executive body.

For his part, Bar-Lev leveled accusations against his critics, and warned that settler violence had become an issue that transcended the occupied territories and reached the international arena and that's what matters to Israel."

The newspaper added that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who in the past worked for the settlers, did not hesitate to criticize Bar-Lev and Lapid.

In this context, he stated that the settlers of the West Bank have suffered from "violence and terrorism" on a daily basis for decades, and they constitute the defensive bulwark for all of us, as he put it.

"Therefore, we have to give them strength and help them with words and deeds," he added.

The newspaper pointed out that in the presence of hundreds of thousands of settlers in the settlements of the West Bank, Prime Minister Bennett realizes that he cannot act against them because this step would be political suicide for him.

In addition, among the settlers, Bennett had the main support base in the elections, as they voted for him by an overwhelming majority.

For this reason, he knows that his survival in the political arena depends mainly on them. However, it is not limited to that, because its continuation is conditional on them. The newspaper reported that criticism of settlers is not new.

In particular, the former president, Reuven Rivlin, who practiced his political career in the right-wing Likud party, on one occasion denounced that "there are members of his people who have chosen terrorism and have lost their humanity."

Yet, such outspoken criticisms are rare which makes the settlers feel stronger, says the newspaper.

Other Spanish websites confirmed that, in addition to the settlers' attacks, the Israeli occupation follows a policy of shooting Palestinians who confront the occupation soldiers, even if they do not pose a threat to them.

 

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