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Knesset bill proposed allowing Israeli settlers to open fire on Palestinians

February 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

In the first bill to be proposed in support of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, a Member of the Knesset for the Jewish Home Party [Bayit Yehudi] – a partner in the coalition government – has asked that the Knesset’s agenda include discussions of a bill permitting settlers to open fire on Palestinians they believe are attacking them against a nationalist backdrop. Such aggression is to be considered self-defence, regardless of the consequences.

The MK who submitted the bill depended on a racist law enacted in the previous Knesset and known as the Dromi Law. It allows Israeli farmers to open fire in self-defence if faced by armed robbers. The law was enacted in 2008; a year after a Jewish farmer in the Negev named Shai Dromi shot two young 1948 Palestinian Arabs under the pretext that they had intended to steal some cattle and cows from his farm. He killed one of them, named Khaled Al-Atrash, and wounded the other, named Ayub Alhoashlh. Dromi was arrested and tried on charges of manslaughter, however he was deemed innocent on the grounds of self-defence. The then-ruling right wing authorities hastily enacted a law to make Dromi’s actions legitimate behaviour.

Settlers have tried to apply this law in the West Bank also, however the Israeli army command which has the authority of governance as an executive power in the West Bank, objected. It placed restrictions on settlers regarding opening fire on Palestinians, as it knew that the situation in the West Bank between the Israeli authorities and those they represented — especially Israeli settlers — was very tense. As such, the Israeli command openly clarified that putting the Dromi Law into force in the West Bank would lead to a significant rise in the number of Palestinians killed by settlers, which would also cause an escalation in tensions.

Today, with the increased power of the settler parties in the Knesset, Orit Struck MK, a female settler who lives in Hebron with her husband and 11 children, proposed a bill that would make the Dromi Law valid in the West Bank also. She explained herself by asserting that there has been a rise in Palestinian armed operations against settlements; therefore, settlers should be given the right to defend their lives and the lives of their children just like other Israeli citizens. She said that as long as the state of Israel permits citizens to defend themselves from thieves, Israeli citizens in settlements should be allowed to protect themselves from terrorists who come to kill them for being Jewish.

The Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee agreed on Wednesday to put the proposal on its agenda to be discussed next week. The Arab MK from the left-wing Meretz Party, Freij Issawi, objected saying that the Dromi Law allows farm owners to protect their property. However, settlers seize Palestinian property that does not belong to them and as such; there is no room for comparison between the two cases. Issawi pointed out that settlers shoot and carry out various other attacks on the Palestinians without the existence of this law, therefore, enacting such a law would encourage them to commit even more crimes.