- Palestinians are doubly cursed. Israel's military attacks
them regularly. During the past week alone, Israeli air strikes killed
four Gazans, wounding another 14.
- Al-Nabi Saleh village residents participating in a peaceful
demonstration were assaulted. Two injuries were reported, including a child.
Israel's navy arrested three Palestinian fishermen, confiscating their
- Their security forces conducted 91 incursions (13 a day
on average) into Palestinian communities, arresting 14 civilians. One injury
- Israeli security forces raided homes of recently released
Palestinian prisoners. They were ordered to appear for questioning to harass
and perhaps re-incarcerate them.
- In addition, Palestinian property was attacked, bulldozed,
otherwise destroyed or damaged.
- All the above incidents and similar daily ones violate
international and Israeli law.
- Lawless Israeli settlers also assault Palestinians with
impunity. Investigations when held are whitewashed. Rarely is anyone prosecuted
even for offenses too serious to ignore.
- On November 11, B'Tselem reported on "Settler violence
against Palestinian farmers and their property, Beitillu, Ramallah District,"
- On October 24, 25 and 26, four attacks occurred. Three
involved settlers damaging or uprooting olive trees on privately owned
Palestinian land near Nahli'el and Talmon settlements. A Palestinian farmer
was also assaulted on his land.
- On October 24, Faiz Abu Ziyada, a Beitillu resident,
saw signs posted on olive trees on his land. It's several hundred meters
from the illegal Nahli'el settlement.
- Abu Ziyada complained to police. The same day, Hassan
Tabal, another Beitillu resident, found 30 of his olive trees burned. Twenty
were totally destroyed. He also notified police.
- On October 25, Abu Ziyada family members waited for Israeli
soldiers to accompany them to their land to pick olives. Settlers assaulted
them. Two soldiers present did nothing. Instead, they told Palestinians
- Given no choice, they watched helplessly from a distance
while settlers smashed windows in their car. Instead of stopping them,
soldiers summoned police. They arrived to investigate. Palestinians know
settlers commit violence with impunity. Inquiries of any sort go nowhere.
- While family members were being questioned, Aa'il Abu
Ziyada saw damage done to his olive trees. Branches were maliciously broken
off. The previous day they were unharmed.
- On October 26, Bazar family members saw branches torn
off 10 of their olive trees. Later an Al Jazeera jeep arriving to document
the damage was stoned. A B'Tselem volunteer with them was injured when
a stone struck him in the neck.
- Last year, B'Tselem documented six settler vandalism
incidents. They happen regularly. Many aren't reported. Affected Palestinians
may fear for their lives. Other times complaints lodged fall on deaf ears.
- In 2010, B'Tselem discussed several incidents near Talmon,
Dolev and Hanli'el settlements. They included assaults, threats, damage
to trees, and crop theft. Farmers complained to police.
- Four cases were closed, three on grounds of "offender
unknown." It's polite language for whitewash. Another ended for reasons
unknown, and a fifth one remains unresolved.
- In 2006, Israel's High Court ruled that "protection
of the safety and property of the local residents is one of the most fundamental
obligations imposed on the military commander in the field."
- The Court ordered four principles maintained:
- assuring Palestinian farmers are safe during olive harvest;
- that they have free access to their land;
- that security forces protect their property; and
- thoroughly investigate complaints filed.
- Israeli government and military officials routinely ignore
Supreme Court rulings, doing what they wish extralegally.
- Instead of protecting Palestinians, Israeli soldiers
prevent them from accessing their land, and require they coordinate harvesting
olives to suit military commander demands.
- They claim coordination is needed to prevent or minimize
settler attacks. Of course, they'd be few or none if guilty parties were
arrested and prosecuted, including being forced to make restitution for
- The above cases show how disdainfully authorities treat
Palestinians. At the same time, settlers get free reign to assault farmers
on their land and vandalize their property.
- B'Tselem wanted answers from Israel's Binyamin brigade.
Instead it got meaningless responses, signifying nothing would be done
regarding the above incidents or to prevent future ones.
- Soldiers present when Abu Ziyada family members were
assaulted violated military orders to detain offenders until police arrived.
It rarely happens. Settlers know they can do what they please with impunity.
- OCHA Documents 2011 Settler Violence
- A November Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) for the Occupied Palestinian Territory discussed this year's
settler violence to date. These facts were covered:
- on average, weekly settler attacks causing Palestinian
injuries and property damage increased 40% compared to 2010, 165% to 2009;
- settlers killed three Palestinians, injuring another
- another Palestinian was killed and 101 injured by soldiers
intervening in settler-farmer clashes; Palestinians were harmed instead
- eight settlers were killed, another 30 injured, compared
to five deaths and 43 injuries in 2010;
- settlers damaged or destroyed nearly 10,000 Palestinian
trees, mainly olive ones; the livelihoods of hundreds of families were
- in July 2011, repeated attacks entirely displaced a Palestinian
community of 127;
- Israeli police summarily dismissed over 90% of Palestinian
- OCHA identified over 80 Palestinian communities with
a combined population of nearly 250,000 vulnerable to settler violence,
including 76,000 at high risk.
- OCHA concluded that:
- (1) Settler violence undermines the security and livelihoods
of West Bank Palestinians.
- (2) Many attacks were committed by settlers living in
unauthorized Israeli "outposts," many built on privately-owned
- (3) Settler violence stems from Israel's longstanding
policy of stealing Palestinian land, displacing Arabs with Jews, and turning
a blind eye to their lawlessness.
- (4) International and Israeli laws are ignored. Most
investigations are whitewashed. Settlers commit vandalism and assaults
with impunity. As a result, they continue unchallenged.
- (5) Settler violence increases the risk of Palestinian
displacement. Stealing more land is facilitated.
- (6) Israel is legally obligated to prevent settler attacks,
protect Palestinian property, and prosecute settler offenders. It rarely
- A Final Comment
- Across America, cops attack protesters with mace, pepper
spray, tear gas, beatings, and other crowd dispersal methods.
- In some parts of the world, demonstrators risk their
lives protesting, in countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain.
- On November 19, an email arrived saying the following:
- "We are very sad about the death of a child supporting
the Occupy Wall St. movement. He was also one of the members of the Occupy
- The 16 year old child was killed by (monarchal) Al Khalifa
mercenaries. His name is Ali Yousif Badah. He is from Sitra City.
- Yes it is in Bahrain - it happend after midnight on Friday
night, i.e. early Saturday morning. After Ali was run over by a police
car, mercenaries cleaned up blood and remains from the crime scene, and
an ambulance later picked up his body.
- His father said that it is difficult to look at Ali's
body, as it has been run over in a terribly brutal way. May God help his
- Since February, dozens of other protesting Bahrainis
were murdered in cold blood. So far, it hasn't gone this far in America.
- Given Washington's appetite for violence, belligerence
in all forms can't be ruled out if authorities decide on much harsher ways
to crack down.
- Some critics are silenced other ways. On November 18,
Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abuninah said Washington's National
Press Club suspended journalist Sam Husseini for asking former Saudi intelligence
head Prince Turki al-Faisal this question:
- "There's been a lot of talk about the legitimacy
of the Syrian regime. I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir."
- "You come before us, representative of one of the
most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth."
- "Human Rights Watch and others report of torture
and detention of activists. You squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain.
You tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt, and indeed you
continue to oppress your own people."
- "What legitimacy does your regime have - other than
with billions of dollars and weapons" supporting you?
- In response, National Press Club executive director William
McCarren suspended Husseini for "boisterous and unseemly conduct and
- America's major media, especially television, also suppress
critics of state and corporate power, as well as Israel and foreign despots
allied with Washington.
- Recognition and acceptance depend on saying nothing offensive
about entrenched power interests. Criticize and risk exclusion, banishment
- Increasingly, America's First Amendment isn't worth the
parchment it's reproduced on. Cross a forbidden line and get punished.
Cross it on America's streets against Wall Street and corporate greed and
get brutalized by rogue cops.
- Cross it repeatedly and risk life and limb if your views
resonate globally. America won't tolerate democratic values at home or
- In contrast, despotic rogue allies and their supporters
are welcome. Husseini and courageous journalists are punished for doing
what mainstream ones won't dare - their job.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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