Monday, September 21, 2020

Violent settler attacks against Palestinians have risen since the start of ‘Operation Protective Edge’

By Lynda Franken - August 03, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Gaza] [Operation Protective Edge]

Arab women attacked by Israeli settlers in Hebron | International Middle East Media Center


Since the start of 'Operation Protective Edge’ there has been an increase in violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians. These attacks and the amount of impunity held by the perpetrators have created fear within Palestinian communities.


Attempts to kidnap kids


Two Israeli settlers tried to kidnap a Palestinian boy in Shu’afat, a neighborhood in East-Jerusalem on Monday. The two-year-old boy, Taha Riyad Tufahha, was walking in front of his father and two sisters when a settler approached and tried to grab him, his father recalls. The kidnapping was prevented due to the help of bystanders. The settlers fled in a car to Ramot, a nearby settlement. 


It is not the first time the residents of Shu’afat have experienced kidnap attempts. The abduction of 16-yearold Mohammed Abu Khdeir also took place in Shu’afat on July 2nd. Abu Khdeir was abducted on his way to morning prayers and was found dead in West-Jerusalem at 7AM that same morning. 


Three Israeli men confessed to murdering Abu Khdeir. They claimed it to be a revenge attack for the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah on June 12th.  


The main suspect, Yosef Chaim Ben David, is a resident of the Adam settlement in the West Bank, five kilometers north-west of Jerusalem. He is accused of hitting Abu Khdeir with an iron stick, pouring gasoline over his body and setting him on fire while he was still alive.


Two of the suspects were also charged with the attempted kidnap of 9-yearold Musa Zalum, a day before Abu Khdeir was kidnapped. His mother, Dina Zalum, told Israeli human rights group B’Tselem that a man “grabbed Musa by the throat as if he were trying to prevent him from screaming. I attacked him and started to beat him with the cell phone that was in my hand.” 


Musa was able to get away, while his mother lost consciousness when she was pushed to the ground by her son’s kidnappers who were shouting at each other in Hebrew. The men fled after bystanders intervened due to their screaming. 


Price tag 


The murder of Abu Khdeir is deemed a reprisal for the death of the three Israeli teens. These attacks are described as  'Price tag’. 


Price tag, or tag mechir in Hebrew, are revenge attacks committed by Israeli settlers against random Palestinians and their communities. These attacks often occur when the settlers disagree with policy decisions made by the Israeli government to curb settlement growth.


However, Reut Mor, spokesperson for Israeli Human Rights Organization Yesh Din, has warned that labeling something a 'price tag’ incident has consequences. “It (…) gives the impression that this is all the settler violence there is, where in fact it’s a very small portion.”


Random acts of violence


In addition to 'price tag’-attacks, random acts of violence against Palestinians have increased since the killing of the three Jewish boys in June and the subsequent start of Israel’s 'Operation Protective Edge’ in Gaza. 


Marwan Abu Sway was shot in the stomach by an Israeli settler at a wedding party last Thursday in Al Khadier, nearby Bethlehem. Ahmad Salah of the local committee told Ma’an News Agency that the settlers were accompanied by Israeli soldiers. Sway, who is in his twenties, had moderate injuries and was taken for surgery to Beit Jala governmental hospital. 


Other recent incidents of settler violence against Palestinians include the beating up of two Palestinian men near the Israeli settlement Neveh Ya’acov in East-Jerusalem on July 25th. The men were hospitalized with serious injuries. Amir Shweiki and Samir Mahfouz, both 20, recall being attacked by a Jewish mob on their way home from an iftar dinner which ended the day’s Ramadan fast.


In a statement to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) Mahfouz said he was approached by a man who asked him for a cigarette. When the man heard that he was Arab he “went away, coming back with his friends, maybe 12 people. They had sticks and iron bars and they hit us over the head.” Shweiki lost consciousness before the attackers left, but Mahfouz managed to call a friend who later called the police. 


Last Friday, an additional four Jewish men were arrested for the assault, according to the Israeli Police. Four other Jewish men between the ages of 17 and 22 were arrested on Wednesday.  


Another incident was an attempted break-in to the house of Abed Sider in Hebron on July 24th. When Sider called the police to report the crime, he and his brother Saady were detained and interrogated instead of the settlers. They were accused of breaking into a house in the nearby settlement, according to four volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement who were present at the scene. They were released the next morning. 




Settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank and East-Jerusalem on average once a day, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). They recorded 399 assaults in 2013 against 116 in 2006, meaning the number of attacks has almost quadrupled.


Yesh Din has put the “failure rate” at 84 per cent, when referring to investigations undertaken between 2005 and 2013 by the Israeli Judea and Samaria district police into offenses by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property. The vast majority of the cases are closed due to the failure to locate and identify suspects for the offenses, which is the responsibility of the Israeli police. 


In areport  released by Amnesty International it is argued that “as a result of (…) the complete  lack of effective investigations into settler violence against Palestinians, many settlers appear to believe they can attack Palestinians and their property without fearing that the Israeli authorities will stop them or that they will face justice for the crimes they commit.”


Feelings of insecurity


The rise in settler violence and the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators has created fear within Palestinian communities throughout East-Jerusalem and the West Bank. “Incitement is felt on the streets in Jerusalem  where Palestinians including ourselves do not feel safe in our homes and on our streets.” Rima Awwad, Advocacy Director of the Palestinian Counseling Center, which works closely in the Shu’fat, told Palestine Monitor.


She adds: “The indifference and failure of the Israeli police to react to attempts of kidnapping by settlers and incidents of settler violence against Palestinians (…) only proves how threatened and unprotected we feel in Jerusalem and off course elsewhere in Palestine.”


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