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Jewish terrorism unit to protect Israelis

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By James Knoop - October 29, 2012
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES] [Multimedia] [Features]
Tags: [Settlers] [Jerusalem] [Racism] [Religious Zionism] [Israeli army] [Israeli violence]

Ramallah – On Wednesday October 10, the Israeli government appointed a newly formed unit with the sole responsibility of dealing with “Jewish terrorism,” countering the attacks carried out by extremist settlers.

The inauguration of the new unit was attended by senior Israeli officials and held in the “Binyamin District” of the West Bank in which 42 Jewish only colonies are located in, otherwise known as the Ramallah governate. This follows  the creation of a ministerial panel in December last year.

Yet while Palestinians are the target of an overwhelming majority of extremist settler attacks, the motive for creating the new unit was based upon the settler attacks on Israeli security forces.

In December 2011, there were a series of riots caused by settlers at an Israeli army base in the northern West Bank. Extremists damaged military vehicles, burned car tires and threw stones at a brigade commander, causing light injuries.

During the same incident, settlers also blocked Highway 55 near the city of Qalqiliya close to the army military base, and hurled stones at passing Palestinian vehicles.

After the attack the Israeli police conducted an investigation and laid charges against five settler extremists for conspiring to attack the military base and collecting information about its activities.

No charges were filed in the incident of attacks on Palestinian vehicles.

According to the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of settler attacks causing casualties or damage to Palestinian property increased 144% between 2009-2011.

In 2011, three Palestinians were killed and 183 injured by settlers. There were also 10,000 trees belonging to Palestinian farmers the were damaged or destroyed.

During the same year,the US State Department’s annual report on terrorism cited 10 mosques in the West Bank and another in an Israeli-Palestinian town which were attacked.

Yesh Din, the Israeli human rights organization, reported that out of 781 incidents of settler abuse recorded since 2005, 90% of the reports filed were closed without indictment.

Yet the impetus for creating the new Jewish terrorism unit is ultimately based on the number of attacks which Israelis themselves are suffering themselves at the hands of settlers.

In January, Haim Rahamim, head of the investigations and intelligence in the West Bank told a Knesset committee that more than 228 incidents of attacks by right-wing settlers on security forces were recorded in 2011.

Much of the trouble is coming from a group of young religious extremists sometimes referred to as “hilltop youth” or “price taggers” who attack both Palestinians and Israelis.

The hilltop youth justify their attacks on Palestinians by citing that the Palestinians are living in the land given to the Jews by God in the bible.

They attack Israelis for government actions thwarting settlement activities. But many in Israeli society feel that now the problem has begun affecting Israelis, it is time to crack down.

Price taggers have attacked a liberal Israeli professor for speaking about how Israel should adhere to the 1967 borders. This would ensure that Israel would retain its Jewish majority, but would threaten the existence of settlers.

They have even slashed the tires of a leader of the settlement movement itself, one who is responsible for the construction wing of development, simply for “collaborating” with the government in planning new settlements.

The website Peace Now lists the number of price tagging incidences that have occurred since January 2011. Out of the approximately 100 incidences the overwhelming majority have had Palestinians as the targets of these attacks.

Despite the fact that the primary motivation for the Israeli government to take action against Jewish terrorism is a result of Israelis feeling the brunt of the attack too, Palestinians will still benefit indirectly as more of the perpetrators  are rounded up and put behind bars.

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