When the Israeli government announces it will legalize an outpost responsible for violence against Palestinians, it dog-whistles to the law breakers: All is well, nothing will happen to you.
During the second Sukkot holiday and the weekend preceding it, Yesh Din investigators documented 29 incidents of assault on Palestinians and their property by Israeli civilians (note that these are only the incidents known to us). The majority of the Israeli media did not report on the incidents, which included an attempt to set the home of a Palestinian family on fire using a firebomb, as well as an assault on an ambulance near the village of Burin. In a series of cases, IDF soldiers reportedly stood idly by and did not prevent attacks on the innocent or their property, despite their legal obligation to do so.
People unfamiliar with the events in the West Bank may think that ideological violence by Israeli civilians only appears as a response to terror attacks. In reality, such attacks take place on ordinary days as well. The response of those responsible for law enforcement in the West Bank – the Israeli government and the IDF – is the same: to ignore Israeli law breakers as much as possible. Israeli civilians know that when they go on the prowl, not only (despite the claims of the Minister of Defense) will IDF troops treat them less harshly when they throw stones or set fields ablaze. The security forces will also aid them by using crowd-dispersal weapons against Palestinian landowners, not the trespassers – who often walk into the very center of Palestinian villages. They also know that no one else will do anything to them. The chance that the complaint lodged by a Palestinian will lead to the conviction of an Israeli who commits an ideological crime is only 1.9%.
And they know something else too: that the government of Israel, forced to pretend to be shocked, absolutely shocked by their attacks, is not all that perturbed. Two days before the recent wave of violence erupted, the prosecution informed the High Court of Justice, in response to our petition, that not only does it have no intention of removing the outpost of Adei Ad, it actually intends to legalize it.
Adei Ad, which was highlighted in our “The Road to Dispossession” report, is wholly illegal. The prosecution does not deny it; it actually admits there are demolition orders against all structures in it; it is clear that over the years, 150 cases of illegal construction were opened against it, of which 97 are still open; it further admits that according to government, the Nationalistic Crime Section of the police opened 36 cases in 2014, with an emphasis on the Shiloh Valley area, where Adei Ad is located. None of this deters the government: it intends to begin legalizing the outpost.
A hearing on the fate of Adei Ad was held this week in the High Court, which gave the court 180 days to come up with a good answer for why it does not want to remove it. According to Yesh Din files, and as reported to the High Court, between 2005 and 2013, 96 criminal offenses were carried out by Israeli civilians in the vicinity of Adei Ad, many of them violent. In the whole of Shiloh Valley we found 146 cases, only six of which went to court; all the rest of the cases were closed, vast majority of them due to police negligence. And these are only the cases in which the Palestinian victim decided to lodge a complaint with the police; there are quite a few cases in which the victim decided not to — they didn’t see a point.
Adei Ad is a microcosm of the occupation: it represents the settlement policy of the Israeli government, which incentivizes felons to invade land and take it over. It then rushes to provide them with IDF protection and basic utilities. Then the outpost expands. At first, the Palestinians are prohibited from entering the outpost itself; then, they are barred from entering its security perimeter; following that they are forbidden to enter nearby land, unless the army allows it and in coordination with it. And after all that come the threats and attacks on farmers who did not yet get the hint and continued working their land near the outpost.
Almost all of none cases are ever solved. Agricultural settlements that lose access to their land also lose their ability to make a living. Palestinian villages whose land was stolen by the Israeli government and outlaws, like those of Adei Ad, suffer from high rates of emigration.
And then comes the reward. After 17 years of invading land, abusing Palestinians and ignoring the law, the government announces it will turn the impure into. Its agents may now collect their reward.