In early January 2014, after wandering the bureaucratic desert for over a year, the International Red Cross and the villagers of Sinjil managed to get permission to plant 7,500 trees in the northern side of the village. Their joy didn’t last long: Israeli civilians began targeting the new saplings almost immediately.
The first attack occurred January 22nd. The deputy chairman of the local council, Rabkhi Hassin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Gafri, received a message from one of the farmers working on the project that a massive theft had taken place. An Israeli DCO Offcier was rushed to the scene, and the Police came after. A thousand saplings were stolen that night. Gafri estimated the damage at several thousand Shekels. Gafri noted that the theft took place between a military post and the illegal outpost of Givat Harel; that the military base is 200 meters from the scene; and that it is equipped with security cameras. Therefore, he was hopeful that the crime would be solved.
To which you have to say: LOL. Ten days later, on February 2nd, Gafri received another urgent call. Once more, saplings were stolen – this time, about 1,200 of them. Once more, the DCO was called, once more the police came. Once more, Gafri noted the presence of the military post, just over, 200 meters away, with security cameras. In his frustration, he told the investigator the following words: “I told the investigator he should see in the computer how many complaints I made against the settlers, in my own name alone, and that nothing came of them. Where is law enforcement? The situation is only getting worse. I told him we’re talking about a huge planting. It takes four hours to uproot it… where is the army? There is a military base overlooking the area. Where are the soldiers, where are their security cameras? Go to the cameras and check them. He just listened and was silent.” Gafri justly noted that the region is under Israeli security control and that Israel is responsible for the security of the residents.
And again, one week later, same place, another theft. This time, the thieves managed to get their hands on “only” 500 saplings. This time, it was the Israeli DCO who called the Palestinians; it was well-drilled.
The uprooting of hundreds of saplings requires a team of several people, working for several hours. The Palestinians estimate this would require four hours; even if we assume that they exaggerated and that two hours would be enough, there is a military base 200 meters away, equipped with security cameras, which manages three times in a row to not see a group of people coming down to the plots and carrying out physical activity for quite a while – an activity we can assume is not very quiet.
Such incidents, taking place time after time, can be explained in two ways. The first is that the IDF troops are thick screw-ups, who fail to notice an incident 200 meters from them even after being warned it takes place time after time. The other explanation is that they don’t feel like noticing it, because why do they need the pain in the neck of going out at night in order to scare away Israeli citizens who, after all, are only stealing the property of, well, you know, Palestinians.
The planting of the trees, we remind you, is a Red Cross project. This is the level of protection the IDF is either capable of or willing to – and as every IDF soldier knows, “can’t” is kin to “won’t” – provide to a project of one of the most important international organizations. We would also remind you that the primary duty of the IDF, as an occupying force, is to provide protection to the occupied population and its property, and that it has been avoiding this duty for decades.
Keep this in mind next time someone speaks of the “most moral army in the world.”