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Police ignore Palestinian complaint about settler violence

An attempt to kill a family in its sleep would force almost any police force to make an extra effort in catching the perpetrators. Not when the police are Israeli and the victims Palestinian.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

A Palestinian house burning; the fire was lit by settlers (Illustrative photo: flickr/Activestills)

Late one night in May 2012, H., a resident of the West Bank village Einbus, was awakened when he heard a noise outside his house. He went towards the window, heard dogs barking and then smelled smoke. He ran to the balcony where he noticed two things: first and foremost, his car was on fire; second, three or four settlers – in the usual pogrom attire of yarmulkes, black trousers and white shirts – were speedily making a getaway, running to the nearby outpost near the settlement of Yitzhar.

H. wanted to pursue them, but two concerns prevented him from doing so. First, they might be armed. Second, the burning vehicle was very close to the house and its flames were advancing rapidly. H. shouted and woke his father and brother. They went out to put out the fire and evacuated the rest of the family members. After some struggle – lucky for them they had a fire hydrant in the yard – they managed to put out the fire. But by the end of it the main door of the house was already burned, the car was a total loss (the damage is estimated at NIS 35,000, or about $9,500) and the front of the house was covered in soot.

You have to be an especially nasty sort of person to set a vehicle of fire near a house where people are sleeping. At best, you’re acting with total disregard for their fate. At worst, you are making an effort to murder a family as it sleeps. As a rule, this is the sort of person that police forces all over the world show a fiery interest in.

Not the Israeli police though. H. informed the police within an hour of the incident, and drove over to the Ariel police station to register a complaint. The police weren’t all that interested. They closed the case on the first of July, under the pretext that the crime was committed by an “unknown perpetrator.” They didn’t bother informing Yesh Din until August 14th.

Then, we at Yesh Din started the strange waltz in which we asked the police for the case file in order to wave it over our heads, along with a dead chicken, so as to enact a voodoo ritual which might convince the prosecution to allow us to appeal. (Note to our animal loving readers: no chickens were harmed during the updating of this case, and our appeal request was rejected accordingly.) Finally, when the police allowed us to photocopy the files on October 29th, it was over a month after the deadline for the appeal. To add insult to injury, it turned out that though our representative had come to the police station with the understanding that he could photocopy 17 files, only six files were actually approved for copying, and even that took place after an unusually long delay, caused inter alia because the Ariel police station’s photocopy machine was out of paper.

And while the Israel Police was busy performing its own version of the Keystone Cops, a group of marauders who nearly killed a family as it slept was laughing all the way to the next ‘price tag’ attack.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

Related:
Don’t blame the settlers for violence against Palestinians

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Once again, because of the near global immunity provided to settlers when it comes to Palestinian residents, settler acts against Palestinians attach to the State. The State set this fire; the State reckously endangered the family; the State covered up the act by failing to investigate promptly and fully, thereby itself obstructing justice.

      Since a settler would be indicted for burning the house of a settler, this case affirms apartheid in the application of law itself. But such apartheid is foregone once these crimes attach to the State itself–unless another branch of the State intervenes to carry out the law. Absent this, apartheid and violent crime against residents is State policy.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >Since a settler would be indicted for burning the house of a settler

        Are you suggesting that ENTIRE population of Yitzhar should be indicted?

        p.s. the article is soaking with hatred and lacks any credibility whatsoever.

        1 – Stone houses can’t burn, meaning that there was no immediate danger to the family.

        2 – H. was able to see yarmulkas and even colour of trousers, but wasn’t able to count the perpetrators.

        3 – As a matter of fact, H. could only see someone who was close enough to fire to be lit by it. Obviously that was not the case.

        4 – “Marauders” is not quite appropriate term and is used to incite. “Terrorists” fit much better.

        Et cetera, et cetera.

        The lies of the leftist bunch are causing more damage to Palestinian cause than rightists tanks ever could.

        Reply to Comment
        • TobyR

          “Stone houses can’t burn”

          This is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever read.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Go out and try to ignite a stone.

            After you fail miserably, get a box of chalk and write ten thousand times “stone can’t burn”

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            You talked about a stone *house*, which, unless you actually mean a *cave*, is not composed completely of stone. I would gladly follow up on your suggestion to try and burn down a stone *house* if it’s okay if we use yours for the experiment. I’ve got gasoline.

            Of course, we may actually find out that stone houses cannot burn and thus most fire departments worldwide can be abolished.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >You talked about a stone *house*, which, unless you actually mean a *cave*, is not composed completely of stone.

            As a matter of fact, it is.
            Unlike European or American houses, where wood is used for framework, in this region there is no wood available, so traditional houses are built ENTIRELY of stone (concrete, limestone, bricks, etc.)

            >I would gladly follow up on your suggestion to try and burn down a stone *house* if it’s okay if we use yours for the experiment. I’ve got gasoline.

            Sure. But what do we do if you fail to burn mine?

            >Of course, we may actually find out that stone houses cannot burn and thus most fire departments worldwide can be abolished.

            About 99.99% of domestic fires are caused by furniture ignited by heaters/cigarettes. Just FYI.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            “Unlike European or American houses, where wood is used for framework, in this region there is no wood available”

            Right, and the door which the article mentioned, to take just one example, was also made of stone, I suppose, since no wood exists in Palestine? I am also quite sure you think that the furniture was also made of stone? Did you perchance try to educate yourself on life in Arab countries and accidentally switch channels to this..
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PPf3aaZmUw
            … without noticing?

            Anyway, even if Palestine *was* actually The Flintstones, so what? Your statement…

            “Stone houses can’t burn”

            … remains as mind-numbingly stupid as ever.

            “Sure. But what do we do if you fail to burn mine?”

            You become a millionaire by marketing your 100% guaranteed fireproof house design?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser,

            >Right, and the door which the article mentioned, to take just one example, was also made of stone, I suppose, since no wood exists in Palestine?

            No, of iron.

            Furniture is wooden, obviously, but it is rather problematic to ignite wood through stone walls and iron doors.

            >You become a millionaire by marketing your 100% guaranteed fireproof house design?

            As I’ve said earlier – 99.99% of domestic fires are caused by faulty/misused electric and gas equipment and cigarettes.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            “no, of iron”

            Let me get this straight: You don’t think stone houses can burn. But you think iron doors can burn merrily?

            Are you burning some weed right now?

            “caused by faulty/misused electric and gas equipment and cigarettes.”

            What does the cause have to do with this? This particular fire was caused by your settler buddies.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Let me get this straight: You don’t think stone houses can burn. But you think iron doors can burn merrily?

            Iron can’t burn either, meaning that there was no danger to the inhabitants of the house.

            >What does the cause have to do with this? This particular fire was caused by your settler buddies.

            You don’t know that for fact. It could have been caused by a rival Arab clan as well, or by some leftists, to escalate before Obama visit.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            “Iron can’t burn either,”

            Actually, it can. That was a trick question. But yeah, an iron door would not burn under normal circumstances. However…

            “But by the end of it the main door of the house was already burned,”

            You did not even read the article, did you?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >You did not even read the article, did you?

            Of course I did.

            You see, the problem is that you trust whatever Gurvitz would write, while I know few facts which are contradictory to this story.

            1 – Gurvits is a liar.

            2 – In this region front doors are maid from iron. It’s not that I’m claiming that ALL front doors must be maid of iron – merely stating that I have not seen Arab house with wooden front door.

            3 – Iron door scorched by heat could be easily called “burned”

            4 – “… the main door of the house was already burned” is not correct semantically and is not the same as “… the main door of the house was already burning” or “… the main door of the house was already burned out”.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            So now that you’ve finally run out of other nonsense to spout you just resort to calling the author a liar. How refreshingly expected.

            “In this region front doors are maid from iron.”

            I’d put in a link to a Google image search to ‘Arab house door’ but I’m sure you’ll say all these images have been uploaded by the great leftist wood conspiracy.

            Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Trespasser is a fan of collective punishment when the perpetrators are Palestinians. Even when they are not.

          So why not Yitzhar?

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Because the State of Israel won’t benefit from collectively punishing settlers.

            p.s. if dismantling settlements would bring peace, I’d be the first one to get there with my custom-built flame-thrower.

            Reply to Comment
        • M Parker (New Zealand)

          “The Trespasser” asks: “Are you suggesting that ENTIRE population of Yitzhar should be indicted?” Odd question. After all the ENTIRE settler population is by definition complicit in the war crimes of the Israeli Government: facilitating and permitting the transfer of Jewish Israelis to the occupied West Bank is a war crime – which can only be perpetrated through the support of willing settlers. By any normal standard of law then, the answer to the question put by “The Trespasser” is surely yes – indict them all.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >facilitating and permitting the transfer of Jewish Israelis to the occupied West Bank is a war crime.

            “West Bank” is/was not a state, therefore it can’t be occupied, by the letter of law.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Except it is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 39., so yes it is a violation of international law.

            Also, the West Bank is recognized as part of the State of palestine in the UN.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            You probably are referring to article 49, not 39.

            Let’s see…

            Art. 48. Protected persons who are not nationals of the Power whose territory is occupied…

            One question – what is the name of Power whose territory was “occupied” in 1967?

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Correct, article 49.

            Israel has already been assigned the occupying force by the UNSC (yes even Israel’s closest ally, the US, also considers Israel as an occupying power), ICJ and UNGA. Even the Israeli High Court regards Israel as an occupying power but disagrees with the UNSC that it is a violation of international law but concurs that the 4th geneva is applicable.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Israel has already been assigned the occupying force by the UNSC (yes even Israel’s closest ally, the US, also considers Israel as an occupying power), ICJ and UNGA.

            UNSC and UNGA are not law-making organs. ICJ is an advisory body very questionable jurisdiction.

            >Even the Israeli High Court regards Israel as an occupying power but disagrees with the UNSC that it is a violation of international law but concurs that the 4th geneva is applicable.

            For the lack of better laws. Governance of territories should be regulated somehow.

            Still, you haven’t answered my question: what is the name of Power whose territory was “occupied” in 1967?

            You see, if only Palestinian Arabs would accept 1947 partition plan and pronounce the Palestinian State, Israel would really be occupying force de-jure.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            There are no law-making bodies. There are treaties and documents that lay out international law and it is up to UNSC, UNGA and the ICJ to interpret them (same thing with courts of any nation, interpretations of documents and treaties). ICC prosecutes those in violation of international law.

            Doesn’t change the fact that the Israeli High Court recognizing Israel as an occupying force where the 4th geneva convention is applicable.

            You don’t need to be a ‘power’ to be occupied. YOu need a population for it to be occupied, and that is the Palestinians.
            I also believe there is a difference though an occupation of a state and an occupation of a population. And Article 49 (Fourth Geneva convention) explicitly refers to populations and not necessarily state.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >There are no law-making bodies.

            Over 300 000 000 web pages would not quite agree with you.
            https://www.google.com/search?q=law-making+body

            >There are treaties and documents that lay out international law

            Which are made by miscellaneous law-making bodies.

            >and it is up to UNSC, UNGA and the ICJ to interpret them (same thing with courts of any nation, interpretations of documents and treaties).

            As a matter of fact, only poorly written laws allow interpretations.

            >Doesn’t change the fact that the Israeli High Court recognizing Israel as an occupying force where the 4th geneva convention is applicable.

            That’s an interpretation, as well as the Levy report is.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levy_Report

            >You don’t need to be a ‘power’ to be occupied. YOu need a population for it to be occupied, and that is the Palestinians.

            You’ve just made this up.
            Also, on what legal basis only Palestinian Arabs are considered Palestinians?

            Palestinian Jews are not Palestinians? And what about Palestinian Samaritans? And Palestinian Armenians?

            >I also believe there is a difference though an occupation of a state and an occupation of a population. And Article 49 (Fourth Geneva convention) explicitly refers to populations and not necessarily state.

            Let’s see…

            >Art. 2. In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace-time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

            >The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

            >Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

            One of high contracting powers is Israel, and another is…?

            >Art. 48. Protected persons who are not nationals of the Power whose territory is occupied, may avail themselves of the right to leave the territory subject to the provisions of Article 35, and decisions thereon shall be taken according to the procedure which the Occupying Power shall establish in accordance with the said Article.

            Article 48 clearly states that the territory must belong to some Power to be occupied.

            >Art. 49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

            >Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

            >The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

            >The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

            >The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

            >The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

            Sorry, still can’t see any way to recognize any part of WB or Gaza strip as occupied territory.

            Reply to Comment
        • Haifawi

          I’m suggesting that the police round up a bunch of the Yitzhar inhabitants in the middle of the night, hold them in isolation for a few days, and interrogate the shit out of them until they give up and admit who did it. That seems par for the course.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            What good the State of Israel could possibly achieve by doing that?

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            To find out who the terrorists are and put them in prison? This is pretty much their MO when dealing with attempted arson by Palestinians on settlers.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            You still haven’t answered what good the State could achieve by oppressing own citizens for the benefit of foreigners.

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            Fulfilling their OWN legal obligations that THE STATE ITSELF agrees that it has. What good comes of the state giving residency rights to refugees instead of imprisoning them? What good comes of the state allowing Arabs to vote instead of grinding them up into Matzah flour?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Fulfilling their OWN legal obligations that THE STATE ITSELF agrees that it has.

            The State has legal obligations to oppress it citizens for the benefit of foreigners?

            >What good comes of the state giving residency rights to refugees instead of imprisoning them?

            Nothing good?

            >What good comes of the state allowing Arabs to vote instead of grinding them up into Matzah flour?

            Arabs in Israel has been allowed to vote for quite a few decades now. With zero positive results as well.

            Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        Interesting language is always used by this author. Always fully loaded and incorrectly used.
        Pogroms were “STATE ORGANIZED ANTISEMITIC” orgies of looting and killing, usually organized to deflect attention from other issues.
        There is nothing to indicate that the perpetrators had any intention of killing anybody.
        Did the author expend the same amount of energy and vitriol when the Fogel family were cold bloodily murdered.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Philos

      Yesterday the police charged a Palestinian witness who came to the Ariel police station to give a statement on a pogrom with perpetuating the pogrom.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Someone here has complained that police is not arresting Palestinians for false complaints.

        Reply to Comment
    3. An interesting strategy Trespasser has: to make statements so bluntly dull that it is impossible to reply to them.

      A general apology to Yossi and Yesh Din, who I see as providing important information.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        If one can’t reply to a statement, it’s not the statement what is dull, with all due respect.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Jan

      Tresspasser – You know damn well that if
      Palestinians committed the same crime against a home in one of the illegal settlements the Israeli police would soon be making arrests in any of the nearby villages. In your so-called “democracy” there are two laws. One for the “chosen” people and one for the people they oppress.

      Reply to Comment
      • More, if a settler commited the same crime gainst another settler, the Israeli police would investiage and act. The incident described in this piece is apartheid in the application of law itself.

        Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >In your so-called “democracy” there are two laws

        Yes, one law for citizens, another for foreigners.

        Democracy middle-eastern style.

        Reply to Comment
    5. The Trespasser

      >More, if a settler commited the same crime gainst another settler, the Israeli police would investiage and act.

      That is what you would like to think, however in reality investigation of arsons is nearly impossible.

      “Arson cases are the least often, least effectively prosecuted criminal offenses in America…It must begin with an understanding of the anatomy of arson. Arson is by its very nature a clandestine offense, often committed under cover of darkness and almost always away from any eyewitnesses in order to minimize the chance of detection. The evidence is almost entirely circumstantial by definition. ”
      http://www.interfire.org/res_file/arsnanat.asp

      Reply to Comment
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