The attacks carried out by the Israeli settlers against the Palestinians in the West Bank alongside violations of the occupation soldiers have continued to the extent that they have prompted Israeli alerts and fear that these attacks will ignite the security situation in the Palestinian areas.
The Israeli security alerts mention the existence of preliminary information from the settlers that they may carry out sabotage operations against Palestinians and their establishments, homes and farms, including burning of cars and buildings, beating with batons, and throwing stones. These and other factors could ignite the area as they may provoke Palestinians’ attempts to take revenge for any aggressive attacks that the settlers may carry out.
In light of the series of Palestinian attacks that took place in recent weeks, the Israeli military establishment fears that the violence of settlers and right-wing activists against the Palestinians may worsen the security situation in the Palestinian territories even further, especially in view of the escalation of field tensions between the Palestinians on the one hand and the settlers backed by the Israeli army on the other.
In addition to the recent Palestinian operations, the Israeli army and the Israel Security Agency Shabak have monitored the flare-up of field protests in various areas of the West Bank. During these protests, stones and explosives were thrown at army forces and settlers’ vehicles. They have, on their part, responded with gun fire in addition to launching several arrest campaigns against Palestinian youths, whether they were suspected of carrying out offensive operations or participating in throwing stones and planting explosive devices. Additionally, there are other forms of popular resistance taking place in various cities across the West Bank.
Israeli warnings of bloody attacks that may be carried out by settlers against Palestinians coincide with the release of Israeli statements accusing the settlers of enflaming the security situation. A notable example of these has been the recent by statement Omer Bar Lev, Minister of Public Security who accused the settlers of carrying out violent acts to ignite the field security situation with the Palestinians, so they are forced to respond to the attacks through stabbings and shootings. There are Israeli fears that these attacks will continue in the coming days.
The occupation army has monitored 15 incidents against Palestinians in recent days, including cases of burning a building, burning a car, throwing stones, raiding a house, hitting with batons, using pepper gas and the like. During one of these violent attacks, a Palestinian truck driver was hit in the head with a stone thrown at him by a group of Jewish settlers in Chumash.
For quite some time there was no such settlement violence against Palestinians. However, when the atmosphere is “saturated with a large amount of fuel,” which is the expression used by the occupation security services to refer to the tense security situation, then these aggressive actions of settlers against Palestinians can lead to devastating consequences. The army and the public security are aware that if “extra fuel leaks on to the fire,” it will be very difficult to stop the ongoing escalation of settlers against the Palestinians.
The ongoing settlement attacks against the Palestinians can be traced back to 1891 when the Jewish settlement project began. In the ensuing years the settlers showed extreme hostility ad cruelty toward the Arabs. They attacked them without justification and beat them in a humiliating manner for no reason. They were proud to do so and there was no one to stop the tide of this dangerous trend.
Coinciding with the continued violence of settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank and complicity of the occupation forces with them, some Israeli voices, although few, have called for curbing the military policy adopted by the occupation army and stopping the “soft hand on trigger” policy because it is enough to increase the number of Palestinian victims.
These Israeli voices do not necessarily express their keenness to save the blood of the Palestinians, but they fear of what they call “the genie coming out of his bottle,” and then the transition of the security situation in the West Bank to a point of unprecedented escalation, which may burn everything with it. Therefore, these voices are calling for changing the way in which occupation soldiers work in the occupied territories, especially the West Bank.
Having engrained in its soldiers the “soft hand on the trigger” policy, the Israeli occupation now seem unable to change the mindset of its soldiers. Perhaps the General Staff is responsible for that, although it pretends to hold its breath when any new Palestinian death occurs. The result is that “the genie has come out of the bottle” and the only way to return it is to fundamentally change the Israeli political conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories, which they have turned into a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment.
On the other hand, there are genuine Israeli fears that occupation will eventually destroy the very fabric of Israeli society by turning its soldiers into a group of killers shooting at every moving object without endangering their lives.
These Israeli voices believe that their army have no strategy or tactics to engage in battle. They are, at best, proficient in offending the Palestinians and disrupting their daily lives. They claim that the Palestinians threaten their lives so they continue to beat them while they are handcuffed in military vehicles. When they reach their bases, they continue to beat them and tie their guns to the bodies of their detainees. All this occurs while their detainees are still handcuffed, blindfolded and subject to insults.
In the circumstances, all the disclosures about initiating security and criminal investigations by the Israeli Military Police must be seen as attempts to pull the wool over the public’s eyes; even after the formation of security and military criminal investigation committees. Although these investigations may result in the arrest of some soldiers and the extension of their detention, they are, nevertheless, ample measures that will not deter others from committing similar abuses.
The rule that the Israelis refuse to recognise is that for every action there is a reaction. Hence any violations committed by the occupation army against the Palestinians are met with retaliatory offensive operations against these soldiers. Notwithstanding, the occupation army continues its crimes against the Palestinians despite the bloody prices paid by its soldiers and settlers. Clearly the ongoing wave of settler violence is pushing the territories toward an explosion from which there is no return.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.