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Israel sponsors violent settlers, while the media whitewashes their crimes

July 21, 2023 at 11:33 am

People attend the funeral of 25-year-old Omar Cebbara after he has been shot dead during clashes that occurred after Israeli settlers lit houses and cars of Palestinians on fire in Turmus Ayya district of Ramallah, West Bank on June 21, 2023 [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

Over the last ten days of June, hundreds of armed extremist Israeli Jewish settlers rampaged through Palestinian towns and villages in the occupied West Bank. They set fire to Palestinian homes, cars and many other facilities. They killed a Palestinian man and wounded many others.

In one of the cases, a group of fanatic Jewish settlers broke into a house in the village of Um Safa, where a mother and her four children hid inside cupboards and a bathroom. The settlers wreaked havoc inside the house. Before leaving, they brought a sofa to the doorway of the house, set fire to it and blocked the door so that the mother and her four children could not escape. The family was rescued and found to have suffered from smoke inhalation; they were taken to hospital for treatment.

Another group of extremist settlers broke into a mosque in the village of Urif, defiled it, threw copies of the Holy Quran onto the ground and one of the settlers took a copy of the Holy Quran out of the mosque, tore it up and threw the pages on the ground. Many other difficult scenes and dangerous attacks and atrocities were not documented or were documented but not reported.

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The irony is that all of those atrocities were backed by Israeli ministers and MKs, and the settlers were protected by the heavily armed occupation forces. It is true that the fanatic settlers were not accompanied by the Israeli occupation troops, but the attacks took place in sight of the Israeli occupation army.

Normally, when the settlers attack Palestinians and their property, they are allowed to do so. If they are not confronted, they complete their missions without intervention from the Israeli occupation forces. However, when they are faced with resistance from Palestinians, the Israeli occupation forces step in and save them at the expense of the Palestinian victims.

In such cases, occupation forces are ready to open fire and wound or kill Palestinians in order to protect the extremist settlers. They even detain, investigate and sentence Palestinians who are resisting violent attacks on their families, homes and properties.

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Due to the scale of violence, last month’s settler attacks on Palestinian villages and towns received global attention and were widely condemned, with the UN and other international groups along with world leaders calling for investigations into the attacks and for perpetrators to be held accountable.

The Israeli occupation authorities immediately took action and brought two of the hundreds of fanatic settlers who attacked Palestinians before the courts and charged them with terror offences. Israeli media reported that 30-year-old David Oved lives in the hardline illegal settlement of Yitzhar in the occupied West Bank, while it is unknown where 22-year-old Yedidya Siani resides.

According to the Times of Israel, in an indictment filed at the Jerusalem District Court, “Siani was charged with an act of terror under aggravated circumstances, racially motivated assault that caused injury, and racially motivated rioting and racially motivated vandalism for his part in riots by Jewish extremists in the Palestinian village of Umm Safa.”

Meanwhile, Oved was indicted for “a terrorist act of rioting resulting in damage, a terrorist act of particular damage and a terrorist act insulting a religion.” Israeli prosecutors, according to the Israeli daily, asked that both Oved and Siani be held until the end of proceedings.

Based on the history of the Israeli prosecution of Jewish settlers or troops who are charged with attacking Palestinians, the two settlers will not receive sentences that match their crimes. As the case of Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, who executed the motionless Palestinian Abdul-Fattah Al-Sharif at point-blank range in Hebron in 2016 shows. Azaria was given an 18-month prison sentence and granted early release.

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By bringing the two settlers before the courts, the Israeli occupation authorities extinguished all regional and global criticism and almost closed the door ahead of any possible future prosecution of the settlers before any international courts because Israel will say that the perpetrators had been already prosecuted and justice for the Palestinian victims was served.

In this way, Israel has ensured that the hundreds of settlers who took part in such attacks will never face legal action. It has also galvanised the settler movement to carry out similar attacks but proving to them that they are protected by the state and their acts are being whitewashed by the Israeli media, which justifies their attacks and claims they are in retaliation to “a deadly Palestinian attack”.

Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich previously said a whole Palestinian village should be “wiped out” and the government is helping settlers achieve this across the occupied West Bank.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.