Last Tuesday, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon gave an example of his twisted logic as he discussed security, intelligence and "Palestinian terror groups" during a tour of the occupied West Bank. Despite increasing numbers of Jewish settler attacks upon Palestinian civilians, some resulting in murder, Ya'alon urged the colonial population to be on alert for attacks by "terror groups" in retaliation for the deadly arson attack in the village of Duma.
"There is motivation to carry out terror attacks," he told the so-called Yehuda regional brigade, "it exists here, but we know how to prevent this ahead of time with good intelligence and operational activities."
Glossing over Israel's state and settler culture of violence against Palestinians has become a regular tactic that, rhetorically, does nothing other than provide a reason for perfunctory visits by Israeli ministers. According to Ya'alon, the situation in the West Bank is "complicated", with Israel allegedly seeking to calm tensions by attempting to "encourage the Palestinian economy", a euphemism for perpetual sabotage and land appropriation.
The minister's comments, at a time when the settler arson attack in Duma constitutes the latest of many brutal episodes recorded in Palestinian memory, display Israel's policy of condoning its settlers' violence either through direct approval or blatant disregard for the historical and contemporary reality enforced upon Palestinians by colonialism. Distorting the reality of settler attacks necessitates distorting Palestinian resistance into "terrorism", in order for Israel to uphold its narrative and export its internationally-accepted excuses for violence. This parody is made possible through the intentional neglect of one particular detail that is consistently obscured by Israel and the international community; the description of the Israeli population in the occupied West Bank as citizens rather than settlers complicit in various forms of state violence.
International law allows resistance against colonial domination and military occupation. Yet, perversely, the UN has also allowed Israel to continue with its colonisation of Palestine despite its ridiculous claims that colonialism has been rendered obsolete. Depicting Palestinian resistance factions as terror groups goes against the "legitimate resistance" clause enshrined within international law. However, it also provides Israel with further erroneous justification to classify its settler population as "innocent civilians", despite their fully-armed role in safeguarding the state's existence.
Several Israeli officials, including former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, have attempted to classify the settler population, in order to avoid labelling all Israelis as violent, and endorse the fabricated "civilian" claim. However, the dangers of passive political violence have been clearly evident within Israel, in particular through a constant endorsement of impunity by the state and society. Both active and passive supporters of violence are fulfilling a role within Israel's colonial process, including the misrepresentation of Palestinian resistance as terrorism and the mellowing of settler brutality into isolated incidents.
However, the concept of "Israeli civilians" is flawed. As Hamas has stated, Israelis are a legitimate target following the macabre Duma attack. Unlike Ya'alon's gibberish, Hamas's statement on the incident is logical and reflects the reality of the anti-colonial struggle. Israel is reliant upon its settler-population to commit crimes of a certain magnitude that contribute to the annihilation of Palestinians. Hence, there is no reason to embark upon any differentiation of Israeli settlers due to their intrinsic level of complicity and willingness to maintain Israel's various forms of violence against Palestinian civilians.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.