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Jewish settlers bent on burning more mosques in West Bank

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Encouraged by government flaccidity and leniency, Jewish settler terrorists in the West Bank are planning to carry out more arson attacks against Islamic houses of worship for the purpose of forcing millions of Palestinians to flee their homes and land in order to enable Jews to create an ethnically and religiously pure Jewish state in accordance with Talmudic teachings.

Israeli media sources on Wednesday, 5 May, quoted security officials as saying that there was mounting evidence showing that Jewish settlers were intending to vandalize more mosques to protest government measures against extreme right-wing activists.

The sources labeled settler plans as "price-tag policy" whereby settler terrorists would exact a "retribution" on Palestinians and their property every time settlers are arrested for attacking Palestinian targets.

The nearly total failure of the Israeli authorities to stem settler violence and terror against Palestinians has prompted some Palestinian leaders to complain that the Israeli government, apparently the most extremist in Israel's history, was giving the settlers a 'green light" or "at least a yellow one" to carry out terrorist attacks on the Palestinians.

"I have not the slightest doubt the Israeli police know the identity of every Jewish terrorist. However, the police just don't have clear instructions from the government o apprehend the perpetrators," said Ahmed Saleem, a community leader in the Ramallah region.

"The real problem has to do with the lack of will not lack of ability to arrest the terrorists and bring them to justice."

Fresh terrorist attack

On Tuesday, 4 May, Jewish settlers, stormed and torched the local mosque at the village of Libban al Sharqiya, north of Ramallah. The fire nearly completely gutted the interior of the 500-square meter prayer hall, burning Quran texts and other items.

Israeli army commanders, widely viewed as ideological sympathizers with the settlers, have refused to carry out any meaningful investigation into the crime, arguing that the fire might have started as a result of an electric short-circuit.

Palestinian sources and local villagers, strongly rejected Israeli insinuations, saying they were 100% sure that settlers perpetrated the heinous act.

Jebril Bakri, the PA governor of Nablus, said "There is no doubt whatsoever that the settlers are responsible for this blasphemous crime. They did it before, they are doing it now, and it is highly likely that they will do it again.

"Criminality, murder and terror surge in their veins. We blame the Israeli government and occupation army for failing to rein in settler terror."

A neighbor of the mosque named Muhammed Khalil described Israeli claims about the fire being caused by an electric short-circuit as "pure lies."

"I think these people lie as often as they breathe oxygen. I also think the occupation army and government are trying to cover up the crime. Besides, since when were the settlers men of peace and good neighborliness."

A few months ago, Jewish settlers in the Nablus region attacked and torched a mosque at the village of Yasuf in the region. The mosque suffered extensive damage and the Israeli occupation authorities have so far failed to arrest the perpetrators.

Palestinian sources suggest that one of the main reasons behind the failure to apprehend the perpetrators has to do with the fact that the Israeli justice system's officials entrusted with investigating settler crimes against the Palestinians are themselves settlers and may resort to hiding evidence indicting or implicating the perpetrators.

"A snake wouldn't bite its tail," one informed sources said rather tersely.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which operates in coordination with the Israeli occupation army, strongly condemned the "recurrence of criminal attacks on Muslim houses of worship."

Mahmoud al Habbash, the PA Minister of Wakf or Islamic Endowment said Jewish settlers were trying to spark off a religious war in the region.

He castigated the "deafening silence of Jewish religious leaders in the face of this blasphemy."

"The fire would eventually burn the faces of the criminals who started it. It is a sign of hypocrisy and moral inconsistency when we see Jewish religious leaders cry out to the seventh heaven when a swastika is scrawled on a Jewish grave in a distant part of Europe while keeping silent when their followers indulge in blasphemous acts against the followers of another religion."

In fact, there is ample evidence that the settlers who attacked and torched the village mosque at Libban al Sharqiya were carrying out instructions, tacit or explicit, from their local rabbis.

Rabbis usually deny that they give followers instructions to torch mosques. However, the rabbis themselves nearly always blame the Israeli government for provoking the settlers by preventing them from stealing Palestinian land and occasionally dismantling settler outposts erected on private Palestinian property.

Most of the Jewish settlers routinely marauding through the West Bank are affiliated with the religious Zionist group known as Gush Emunim (block of faithful). The group which has spearheaded the settler movement since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, calls for the expulsion of all Palestinians from the entirety of occupied Palestine, which extends from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean. The more extremist segments of Gush Emunim openly advocate physical extermination of non-Jews from "the Land of Israel."

Some of the more militant settlers openly quote verses from the Old Testament advocating the annihilation of non-Jewish men, women and children as a final solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Kid gloves

Israel, which claims to be a society based on law-and-order, has been treating Jewish settlers with utmost leniency, especially when the victims are Palestinian. In numerous cases, settlers convicted of murder are allowed to go home with impunity either for a procedural loophole, psychological reasons, or for "insufficient evidence."

Indeed, even when convicted, settler offenders normally are served symbolic or extremely light prison sentences which jurists and human rights activists argue only encourage other Jews to carry out acts of murder and vandalism against the Palestinians.

Earlier this week, a Jewish court ruled that a Jewish terrorist-murderer named Yaacov Teitel was unfit to stand trial for psychological reasons. Teitel, a North American immigrant, had murdered three innocent Palestinians and attempted to murder three other people.

The ruling is consistent with numerous other court rulings in Israel which declared Jewish terrorists and murderers "insane" which would enable the killers to go home virtually scot free and possibly prepare for another crime that would claim new victims.

There are several factors contributing to this legalistic apartheid permeating through the Israeli justice system.

In many cases, the judges involved in issuing such verdicts are religious Jews who don't believe that a Jew should be punished severely for violations against a non-Jew. Indeed, some judges, especially those affiliated with such supremacist sects as Chabad, don't even ascribe humanity to non-Jews.

Moreover, the Israeli justice system itself, which was overwhelmingly secular until 20 years ago, has been infiltrated by settler-minded judges who would always give the settler defendants the benefit of the doubt and manipulate all conceivable extenuating circumstances in their favor. This conspicuously preferential treatment often leads to settler defendants being acquitted of any wrong doing even though they would receive a life imprisonment were they to be prosecuted by any western court.

Finally, the settler camp has at its disposal a very strong lobby in the government and Knesset which is constantly mobilized to serve and defend the interests of the settlers, especially when some settler terrorists are arrested or indicted.

This settler lobby, which includes small but powerful religious and secular parties, such as the Bayt ha-Yahudi and Shas, normally exerts pressure on the government and army to release detained Jewish terrorists.

In many cases, the authorities readily budge without any further argument. (end)

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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