Israel has cancelled work permits for the relatives of Aisha Al-Rabi, the Palestinian mother who was stoned to death by illegal Israeli settlers last week.
Yaqoub Al-Rabi, the husband of 47-year-old Aisha Muhammad Talal Al-Rabi, and her brothers were “surprised to find out that they were punished for the settlers’ murder of Aisha by revoking their work permit, even though they were victims of the attack,” Wafa reported.
Aisha was killed last week after illegal Israeli settlers attacked the couple’s car while they were driving near Tapuah Junction (Za’atara), south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Their car was hit by stones, leading Yaqoub to lose control of the vehicle. In the midst of the assault, Aisha was struck with a large rock on the right side of her head, causing her to lose consciousness. Though Yaqoub tried to drive Aisha to hospital, she was declared dead on arrival.
While US envoy Jason Greenblatt issued a rare condemnation of the attack, Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin derided Aisha’s death as nothing more than a “scrap of an incident”. Levin told Israel’s Army Radio: “It is impossible to not be aggravated by the hypocrisy of that kind of people [left-wing organisations], that finds sufficient the scrap of an incident that hasn’t even been checked, and they already know that the Jewish side is guilty.”
An investigation into the attack was launched by Israel’s security agency Shin Bet – the same agency that today cancelled Yaqoub and his brother-in-laws’ work permits. That Shin Bet was involved in the investigation into Aisha’s murder was interpreted by Israeli commentators as evidence that the attack was being treated as an “act of terror carried out by area settlers”. However, Shin Bet has yet to make any arrests, instead saying it is “continuing the investigation”.
Though Shin Bet claims the cancellation of the Al-Rabis’ work permits is temporary, the move will be interpreted as evidence of the double-standard with which such incidents are handled. In 2015 Israel introduced a new law allowing up to 20 years’ imprisonment for Palestinians accused of throwing rocks at a vehicle with the intent of causing bodily harm, or ten years if intent was not proven.
Israel regularly arrests Palestinian children for allegedly throwing stones. According to B’Tselem, “from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, at least 835 Palestinian minors were arrested and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing”. Defense for Children International (DCI) Palestine adds that “each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The most common charge is stone throwing”.
Meanwhile, settler violence against Palestinians frequently goes unpunished. According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAoPt), “Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has been on the rise since the beginning of 2017”. Between January and April 2018, OCHAoPt documented 84 incidents of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians, of which 25 per cent involved stone throwing at Palestinian homes and vehicles.