The village of Yasouf is, once more, a target of “price tag” pogroms – which makes this a good time to mention that settlers and the military are stealing its lands

This morning a “price tag” pogrom took place in the Palestinian village of Yasouf. If the name Yasouf is vaguely familiar to you, this is probably because in 2009, it became the target of the most famous price tag attack: the burning of its mosque. It’s worth mentioning the response of the Shomron local council at the time (Hebrew): it called the attack an “act of madmen or a provocation,” piously adding that it hoped the police would find those responsible. That was two years prior to Shahar Ginossar of Yediot Ahronot reporting that the Shomron local council created the policy of “price tag” and even funded it. The “price tag” people are the military arm of the settlement establishment, the hoodlums used when violence and plausible deniability are necessary. “Price tag” attacks have become so common that they’re barely reported; they used to make headlines, but this morning the attack in Yasouf merited barely a newsflash.
The choice of Yasouf as a repeat target of “price tag” attacks becomes more understandable, when you realize that the village is now fighting against the taking over of its lands by settlers, who do so aided and abetted by the IDF. The village dares to fight for its rights, so it gets a small dose of terror, as a reminder of the price of messing not only with the military arm of the government of Israel, but also with the military arm of the settler movement, which is far more ruthless.

In December 2010, the villagers petitioned the High Court of Justice, represented by attorneys Michael Sfard, Shlomi Zecharia, Avishar Lev and Muhammad Shqayer of Yesh Din’s legal team. The petition was against the army and the civil administration, demanding the villagers receive access to their lands. Since early 2001, the army prevented the villagers from accessing thousands of dunams of its lands. Later, “Tapuach west” was established on some of those lands,an outpost illegal even according to the government of Israel. “Tapuach west” blocked the villagers’ access to their lands, as did the road paved illegally, between Tapuach- a settlement created by Kahane supporters and its outpost- “Tapuach West”. The local council responsible both for the settlement and the outpost? Why, it’s the Shomron local council.

At first, the settlers prevented the villagers from reaching their lands with the usual violence, and then the army got involved, and erected a gate which is never open, thus turning what was a lawless land grab into something semi-official. Later, the army declared much of the territory a closed military zone, thus officially preventing the villagers – not the invading settlers – from reaching what is, without any legal contest, their land, from which they live.

Some two years after the petition was filed, in November 2012, it was first debated by the court – hey, it’s just some Palestinians robbed of their livelihood, what’s the rush? – a hearing during which the justices were sharply critical of the behavior of the army and civil administration. Justice Naor said that “The balance here derives first of all from the starting point, that they are entitled to reach their lands. If there are lawbreakers, it is the duty of the military commander to deal with them. His job is to ensure their access, and if there are lawbreakers he must deal with them. If anyone uses violence the State must confront them. It is the State’s job to maintain order.”

So, until the government enforces order – which it is loath to do when Jews are involved – the terrorists residing in the Shomron local council will try to make it clear to the petitioners that they are messing with the wrong people. Luckily, the petitioners refuse to bend. To the poor record of law enforcement officials in defending the Palestinians in the occupied territories from the theft of their lands and violence against them – which, again, is basically all the army is allowed to do there, legally – we can add their pathetic inability to capture the “price tag” pogromchiks. Their proven record of inaptitude has already led the local residents to tell us that they are unwilling to press charges, since the treatment of their complaints is a bad joke and the process is a waste of their time.

In that regard, the terrorists – with the quiet support, both by action and inaction, of the IDF, the Shin Beth and the police – have already won.