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Settlers: a double war against Israelis and Palestinians

August 16, 2023 at 9:56 pm

Israeli settlers march from Damascus Gate to the Western Wall, which is the southwest wall of Masjid al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem on July 26, 2023 [Mustafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli General Security Agency, Shin Bet, has recently issued a document in which it accuses Jewish settlers of carrying out terrorist attacks against the Palestinians, leading to an increase in resistance against the occupation. This document has angered many members in the ruling extreme right-wing coalition. 

 Members of the right-wing coalition attacked pillars of the State, mainly the security and military institutions, claiming that they adopt left-wing ideas, and can no longer distinguish between the Palestinian enemy and the Israeli people, particularly the settlers residing in the West Bank. They believe that these ideas have reached the depth of the State, strongly affecting security and army chiefs, and they claim that the timing of the Shin Bet chief’s announcement is outrageous. 

Head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, presented an assessment of the security situation, to the effect that Jewish terrorism is capable of fuelling the Palestinian resistance, adding to the attacks a whole new group of Palestinians who were not there to begin with. He explains that the harm and suffering inflicted on Palestinians and the severe damage to their property, lead to revenge attacks and the bloodshed of Jews, as in what happened after the settlers killed the Dawabsha family in the village of Duma.

READ: Israeli settlers protest against Netanyahu during holiday in settlement

 As for the Commander of the occupation army, Harzi Halevy, he stressed that practices of the settlers increase the motivation for Palestinian resistance. General Gadi Shamni, former Commander of the West Bank, indicated that “we are faced with a policy that has contributed over the years to the creation of savage people. We are not facing hilltop boys, but rather a group that has representatives in the government who support these extremist elements, thus causing more friction.” 

 What is new is that these settlers now have a Minister of National Security who supports settler terrorist organisations, and that this government has trained the political arm of their most violent groups, not to mention that the political level grants these criminals immunity. 

 It is no secret that the recent Jewish settlement crimes in the towns of Huwara, Turmusaya and Urif can push the Palestinian public toward further supporting the resistance and giving it the popular incubator it needs. This is recognised by the occupation itself, which does not hide the fact that it is annoyed by the growing threats made by settlers, and the prevailing feeling that the army and police are afraid of getting involved in such types of crimes, and that they are doing their best to evade the consequences of any crime the settlers may commit at any moment against the Palestinians.

 The attack launched by extremist settlers against a number of senior army and Shin Bet leaders has caused angry Israeli reactions. Israelis are accusing ministers of the right-wing government of encouraging the actions of settlers’ armed militias. They also consider this attack on the leaders of the security system very dangerous, which means that the Third Intifada, which is supposed to be started by Palestinians, might rather be caused by the practices of these settlers, this time. 

They are talking about some hilltop boys who are sponsored by hardened settlers, and it is not clear how many there are. They may not exceed 120 boys who wear kippahs on their heads and are trying to get the army involved in the political sedition sweeping the country, although they live under its protection. What they are doing is very serious and can harm them, and thus calls for their deterrence.

 Israelis are worried that the criticism of the army and security leaders is taking the Israelis to the brink of chaos, as if it were a deliberate strategy. This will result in the loss of the already shaky and disgraceful security balance the Israelis are witnessing in the face of the polarised and heated internal situation.

READ: Israel discriminatory definition of crime and incitement

 At the same time, the Israelis have become frighteningly convinced that they are headed toward a point of no return. Settlers’ ongoing abuse of the security services will weaken security and get it in a state of neglect and deficiency. It will shake the confidence of the Israeli society in it and incite people against the military and security agencies. These heavy blows will weaken security, and then all Israelis will lose because, with the introduction of political polarisation into the military and security units, the settlers are driving a wedge between them. 

About 250 former senior security and military officials participated in a conference in which they accused the existing government of harming the army, because it operates as a mafia gang. They believe that passing the legal coup causes harm to army soldiers and national security. As the government abandons soldiers in international courts, including members of the army, Shin Bet, Mossad and the police for committing war crimes, they can be tried anywhere.

 Not only this but, in an unprecedented Israeli step, prominent Israeli politicians directed an official written letter to the US administration asking it to intervene in the right-wing government’s procedures for judicial amendments, claiming that Israel is on the brink of dictatorship, and that the Israelis cannot confront it alone. This prompted them to demand that American pressure be like what happened with the apartheid regime in South Africa, which ended through a combination of external international pressure and rebellion from within. 

 Israelis, angry at the right-wing government, are calling on Congress to do the same, because Israel’s security is in danger, and crucial reserve units in the army warn that they will stop volunteering for service if the country’s Jewish path is halted. 

Israeli political forums have often expressed concern about the expected consequences of human rights organisations referring to Israel as an apartheid regime, because it will encourage other international human rights organisations to adopt the same characterisation, bringing Israel closer to the model of the apartheid regime in former South Africa. However, adoption of the same term by the Israelis themselves means that the Israeli concern has doubled, and is becoming more dangerous, because it means giving this description legitimacy and legality, and that it is no longer limited to legal human rights organisations but, rather, has extended to political and diplomatic circles. 

READ: Israel settlers chant anti-Arab slurs in Hebron

In conclusion, these current facts make every Israeli feel ashamed of what this government has done in the past weeks. When the Prime Minister and his imaginary government decide not to obey the law, by doing so they blackmail the judicial institutions through threats. They are deliberately pushing the country into a state of chaos, leading to the worst period for Israel in 75 years.

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