Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) has issued a report warning that attacks perpetrated by illegal settlers against Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank, known as “price tag” attacks, could inflame the whole Middle East. Sunday’s edition of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that the price tag attacks are not the work of crazy individuals but are perpetrated by organised groups who have a military background.
The NSC report said that the perpetrators are well-informed about the Israeli authorities and law enforcement agencies. They receive instructions on how to deal with the official investigations and follow a certain process so that they cannot be incriminated. “The settlers do not cooperate with the authorities to prevent these actions,” said the report. “Instead, they provide support and cover-up for the perpetrators, so the state law enforcement agencies cannot convict them.”
Emphasising that it is the duty of the Israeli army to enforce the law in the West Bank [occupied Palestinian] territories, the report noted that past experience has shown that the army is “unenthusiastic about carrying out its duties when it comes to enforcing the law against the settlers”.
The NSC accused Israel’s politicians of leniency in dealing with the issue, saying that the government has failed to provide a clear policy on how to deal with the attacks or enough cover to the security and legal authorities to pursue those who carry them out.
The report recommends that the Israeli army should be responsible for enforcing the law on the settlers in the West Bank in cooperation with the police and the Shin Bet internal security agency. It should also train its personnel on how to enforce the law and work in a police investigation. “The army has to explain to its soldiers that they have the full power to arrest any Israeli settler suspected of committing hostile acts against the Palestinians,” insists the NSC, “and the state has to provide the police with drones to collect information from the air about the perpetrators.”