The incident yesterday in Kusra was not a “conflict”, it was a pogrom – and, as usual, it took place under the aegis of the IDF
Kusra is a target for particularly wild attacks from settlers to the point where Yesh Din sent an urgent letter two months ago to the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division and the commander of the Police District of Samaria and Judea (‘SHAI’), demanding they protect the residents from the settlers. We have dozens of complaints by Kusra residents about attacks by settlers. So far, as far as we know, not a single raider was indicted.
The repeating pattern is of attacks, theft, damage to property – with the police doing nothing and the army becoming a part of the problem. In an incident from last September, Palestinians were attacked by settlers; one Palestinian was reportedly kidnapped by them for a short while. In response, the army forces arrived…. and used tear gas and stun grenades on the Palestinians. The police closed the case, claiming “perpetrator unknown.”
A similar incident took place in July 2011, when settlers attacked herdsmen, according to the complaint butchering one of their sheep in front of their very eyes. The army arrived, and – you guessed it – joined in the attack on the herdsmen. Many residents made their way to the place, as did some 40 settlers; the army used demonstration dispersal weapons, but only against the Palestinians.
Two months later, a Palestinian asked the IDF gunmen to order the settlers to stop uprooting his trees, which they were doing as the gunmen were idly watching. Angry words were exchanged between the Palestinian and the commanding officer, who according to the complaint ended the argument by firing five rounds – four rubber bullets and one live bullet – at the Palestinian. The gunmen further attacked other Palestinians at the scene, including a 13 year old boy.
In March 2011, there was an unusually serious incident in Kusra: Settlers were raiding the village, and the residents organized to defend themselves. As a result of fire by the settlers and the IDF gunmen, at least six (according to the gunmen) or seven (according to the residents) residents were wounded by live gunfire. Three others were wounded by rocks thrown by the settlers. The army, naturally, did not use crowd dispersal weapons on the raiders; just on their victims.
And this is just a sample. There were many other incidents. So what is going on here? For starters, there is a symbiosis between the settlers and the army. They are becoming two arms of the same militia. The army has an in-built problem: it is incapable of understanding its duty is protecting residents, not just Jews. No one would highlight this problem better than the IDF Spokesperson, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai. In December 2011, following an attack by a large number of settlers on an IDF base, reporter Carmela Menashe asked Mordechai how an army colonel who was stoned by the settlers ought to have reacted. He replied (Hebrew): “I assume, Carmela, that you don’t expect the colonel to open fire at a Jew standing in front of him. I’m certain that’s not what you meant.” Of course, shooting at Palestinians throwing stones is daily activity for the IDF.
Another problem is the existence of the Kfir Brigade, which exists specifically to serve the occupation. Many of its soldiers are settlers, and some belong to the “Ultra-Orthodox Nahal” battalion. This particular brigade has several incidents in which soldiers announced they would refuse an order to evict outposts, which makes it incapable of doing its job. The fact that such soldiers are deployed specifically in the West Bank is indicative of the attitude of the IDF.
And there is the media problem. Not so long ago, any self respecting Israeli media outlet would have a Palestinian affairs reporter. Nowadays, few do, but most of them have “settlement affairs reporters.” The result is that Israelis no longer receive information about the territories they occupy and for whose inhabitants they are responsible. The media knows such news annoys the readers, and as most of them have become purely commercial outfits, they don’t have an interest in annoying those who pay for their product.
So when everything blows up, and there is reason to believe the fuse is already lit, the Israelis – those who commit the crimes, those in law enforcement who cover them up, those who voluntarily close their eyes and their media enablers – will assume their favorite position, the natal one, and wail to the heavens they don’t know how this happened.
Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means? Warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh? If you poison them, do they not die?