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The raging Israeli bull fears no constraints or punishments

Like a raging bull, the Israeli authorities are throwing their weight around the occupied Palestinian territories, launching air strikes on the Gaza Strip; besieging Hebron and carrying out raids and search operations; mass arrests; taking the children and women of wanted and hounded Palestinians as hostages; and placing barriers across the West Bank. In addition to this, Israel's undercover operatives are infiltrating the Palestinian community deeply. The authorities are on alert 24/7, and all we hear are accusations that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are responsible for the disappearance of three illegal settlers.

Israel's barbaric behaviour does not suggest any fear on its part regarding the reactions of the Palestinians, Arabs or the international community towards its raiding of cities, villages, towns and refugee camps. Instead, is seems that Israel feels reassured that it is able to abuse the Palestinians and punish them collectively without fear of being held accountable. We cannot blame Israel alone for this; we must also blame the Palestinians themselves whose leadership has so far failed to sign-up to international conventions and treaties concerning war criminals and crimes against humanity.

According to Israel, the three settlers were kidnapped from the heart of the "security square" in the West Bank, an area where no PA security or administrative feet ever step. If there was a security failure, then the Israeli security services are responsible for it, based solely on the fact that the PA is powerless and only "sweeps" and "guards" a very tight strip of Palestinian territory. So what is the purpose of this attack on the PA and Hamas, and what is the hidden political agenda?

It is quite clear that the Netanyahu government was furious when it realised that its campaign to "demonise" the PA and its president and hold them accountable for the failure of Kerry's mission had flopped; Washington and the international community did not believe the Israeli version of events. Israel has been promoting its propaganda for a long time, weaving lies and falsehoods regarding the PA and Mahmoud Abbas, but once the unity government was formed, Netanyahu's government saw an opportunity to renew its campaign and say that Abbas chose Hamas over peace, and that the unity government is a terrorist government with which Israel cannot work. In addition to this, Netanyahu issued instructions to cease all communication with the PA, except in respect of security coordination, in line with Israel's belief that the PA is a "security enclave" or border strip; nothing more, nothing less. However, Israel received another blow from Washington and the international community when it failed to convince various world capitals that the unity government is a "terrorist government" that needs to be isolated and several expressed their recognition of the new Palestinian administration and their readiness to deal with it. This was a serious failure for the "peacock" of Israeli politics, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The alleged kidnapping of the three settlers was a new excuse for Israel to use to renew its campaign against both the PA and Hamas and to launch a hysterical drive against the Palestinians. This bloody scenario will last for days, maybe even weeks.

Hamas has not yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, nor did it confirm or deny its involvement in the operation. However, it has supported and continues to support such efforts. In fact, a group calling itself "ISIS – West Bank" has claimed that it kidnapped the settlers as a response to one of its operatives in Hebron being killed by Israeli soldiers several months ago. Whether it was Hamas or "ISIS", the operation still raises several questions. If Hamas was responsible it was bad timing with a serious impact on the fragile reconciliation agreement; there are people in Fatah and the PA who will regard the time and place of the operation as an attempt to involve them in an open clash with Israel and put them in a tight spot. If it was "ISIS", though, then that would mean that the Palestine-Israel conflict has entered a new era of "Salafi jihad".

Nevertheless, regardless of who was responsible for the kidnapping or whatever the reasoning or objective behind it, there is no authority on Earth that would grant the Israeli authorities the right to punish an entire nation collectively.

The PA must stop justifying and defending Israel's crimes immediately and cease its security cooperation with the raging Israeli bull. In its place it must implement a diplomatic-human rights drive and join the International Criminal Court in The Hague forthwith before prosecuting the Israelis on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Translated from Addustour newspaper 17 June 2014

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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