Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unaccountable Israeli Settler Criminality

Unaccountable Israeli Settler Criminality

by Stephen Lendman

It's systemic. Including vandalism against Palestinian mosques, schools, property, land and crops. Torching them. Uprooting trees.

Violence. Including beatings. At times murder. Against Palestinian men, women and children.

With impunity. Israeli security forces doing nothing to protect targeted Palestinians. Or maintain public order.

Disregarding an Israeli High Court ruling stating:

"Protecting the security and property of the local residents is one of the most basic obligations placed upon the military commander in the field." 

Defense officials must "give clear, unequivocal instructions to the forces that are deployed in the field." Must "allocate forces to protect the property of the Palestinian residents."

Must ensure settlers obey Israeli law. Must punish violators.

On November 24, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined "Israeli Settlers Continue Their Attacks against Palestinian Civilians in the West Bank." 

Escalating them unaccountably. The latest incident involving a home belonging to a Kherbet Avu Falah village woman. 

Settlers threw sound bombs and tear gas. Setting its balcony ablaze. 

"PCHR believes the Israeli forces' cover-up of settlers' attacks and even support and protection for them encourage settlers to continue their systematic attacks against the Palestinian civilians." 

"(S)uch crimes come in the context of the continuing incitement by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people."

Security forces and settlers conspire against Palestinian civilians. Ruthlessness defines official policy. So does institutionalized racism.

"PCHR condemns these attacks, the Israeli government's silence and even support for them." Efforts for responsible international intervention repeatedly fail. 

Western leaders largely ignore blatant Israeli lawlessness. At most, occasional lip service without teeth. 

Letting Israel get away with virtually anything. Including abusive security force incidents. Slow-motion genocide. 

Premeditated wars of aggression. The highest of high crimes against peace. Systemic settler vandalism and violence.

On November 23, "settlers sneaked into Kherbet Abu Falah village," said PCHR. Headed towards Huda Abdul Ghani Abdul Rahim Hamayel's home.

"(T)ried to raid it." Broke balcony windows. "(S)pilled an incendiary substance inside…" Threw sound bombs and tear gas. Set balcony chairs, curtains and other furniture ablaze.

Wrote on Hamayel's walls: "Death to Arabs, avenging the blood of religious Jews." Drew a Star of David. Pointing to five Jews killed at a Jerusalem synagogue days earlier.

Hamayel explained as follows:

"I was with my 3 daughters aged 11-27 in our house in al-Sha'ab neighborhood in the north of Kherbet Abu Falah, northeast of Ramallah." 

"At approximately 03:30AM on Sunday, 23 November 2014, we woke up to a strange movement behind the house from the western side." 

"I thought there were thieves or Israeli soldiers around. I immediately switched the lights on and then heard as if someone was climbing the outer stairs." 

"In the meanwhile, I heard something had hit the balcony's door and broken the balcony's window. I noticed someone was attempting to open the inner steel door." 

"I tried to know who those people were, but nobody answered. My daughters and I started screaming and calling neighbors and relatives for help." 

"A minute later, I heard people talking in Hebrew and then throwing a sound bomb inside the balcony, due to which, we heard an explosion and were frightened." 

(T)hey threw a gas canister and then a Molotov cocktail and ran away to the mountain area towards 'Adi Add' settlement outpost, which is 3 kilometers away from us." 

"The armchairs, chairs, curtains and other furniture pieces in the balcony caught fire. In the meantime, neighbors arrived to extinguish" it.

"Forty minutes later, a Palestinian civil defense vehicle arrived and extinguished the fire. We got out of the house and noticed writings in Hebrew and David Star on the walls." 

They said "Death to Arabs, avenging the blood of the religious Jews." At approximately 07:00AM, Israeli forces and police came and photographed the house." 

"They took my statement regarding what had happened and seized some items used by the settlers in the balcony." 

"At approximately 11:00AM, the Israeli police and liaison officers came again and asked me to go to the police station in 'Beit Eil' at 3:00PM to file a complaint."

It doesn't matter. So-called Israeli investigations whitewash Jewish crimes against Palestinians. Nearly always. Ignoring accountability. Denying justice.

Yesh Din defends Palestinian human rights. Exposes Israeli crimes, ill-treatment and other abuses. Champions long denied accountability. 

Settler criminality is longstanding, it says. Vandalism and violence occur often. With disturbing regularity.

In many forms. Against Palestinians. For not being Jews. According to Yesh Din:

"These acts of violence are not isolated incidents, nor are they simply acts of hate or anger."

They're "part of a sophisticated, wider strategy designed to assert territorial domination over Palestinians in the West Bank."

By any means possible. In blatant violation of fundamental rule of law principles.

Including settler imposed "no-go zones." Often on Palestinian land. Terrified owners abandoning it. Fearing for their lives and safety.

Settlers launch so-called "price tag" attacks. Retaliatory acts against Palestinian civilians, homes, farmland, crops, mosques and other targets.

In response to Israeli security forces dismantling unauthorized outposts. International law is clear and unequivocal.

Occupying powers are responsible for the welfare and safety of populations they control. Israel brazenly ignores its obligation.

Fails to conduct credible investigations of crimes against Palestinians. Rarely ever enforces accountability. According to Yesh Din:

"The failure of law enforcement in the OPT has led many Palestinians to refrain from filing complaints when attacked. Those who do have little hope for redress." 

"Importantly, the State’s ongoing failure to instate criminal accountability of violent settlers inadvertently empowers them and supports the continuation of their strategic brand of violence."

In mid-November, Yesh Din published data on police investigatory failures. In "cases of ideological offenses against Palestinians."

Based on 1,045 files. In 2005 through most of 2014, "a mere 7.4 percent of investigation files led to indictments of Israeli civilians suspected of attacking Palestinians and their property, reflecting a decline of approximately one percent in the rate of such indictments."

Rare convictions amount to little more than wrist slaps. Regardless of crimes committed. 

Most often cases are closed because of police indifference. "(F)ailure to investigate properly," says Yesh Din.

Including "failure to locate offenders or collect sufficient evidence for prosecution."

In contrast, Palestinians are charged with crimes based on fake evidence. Often kept secret. 

Withheld from defense lawyers. For so-called national security reasons. Nonexistent ones.

Resulting in nearly automatic convictions. Guilt by accusation. Justice systematically denied. For Palestinians, none whatever exists.

Lawless settlers and security forces do what they please unaccountably. Palestinian complaints don't matter. 

Including in cases involving shootings, assaults, arson, destroying trees, burning crops, attacking animals, theft, illegal construction on privately owned Palestinian land, threats, harassment, and various other offenses.

According to Yesh Din:

"An examination of the data for 2013-2014 demonstrates that the newly established Nationalistic Crimes Unit in the Samaria & Judea District Police has not improved investigations of Israeli civilians suspected of offences against Palestinians in the West Bank." 

"The failure rate of the Israel Police in properly investigating ideological offenses against Palestinians has in fact worsened." 

"Of the investigative files Yesh Din has monitored, 159 were opened following complaints filed in 2013-2014." 

"The authorities charged with investigation and prosecution have completed processing 106 of these files." 

"Suspects were charged in just two files (1.9 percent). Meanwhile, 86 files were closed on the grounds of 'perpetrator unknown…" 

"(S)even were closed due to 'insufficient evidence…(T)wo additional files were closed due to 'absence of criminal culpability.' " 

In other words, whitewash. Willful Israeli stonewalling. Letting crimes committed by Jews against Palestinians go unpunished.

Nearly always. Imposing wrist-slap penalties following rare convictions.

"After reviewing the investigation material in these two cases," said Yesh Din, it "submitted an appeal to re-open the files for further investigation." 

"The figures show that of the 106 police investigation files opened and concluded during the past two years, 89.6 percent were closed because of investigative failure."

Systemic Israeli unwillingness to afford justice. Because of "negligence, lack of professionalism, insufficient investigative actions, and failure to meet accepted investigation standards."

Nothing is done to change longstanding policy. Denying justice to Palestinian victims reflects systemic Israeli practice.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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