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How the government rewards its most violent settlers

One would expect the Israeli government to put an end to attacks by the settlers of Adei Ad on Palestinian civilians. In fact, it rewards them by planning to legalize their West Bank outpost.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

Israeli settlers and Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at each other, after settlers marched onto the lands of the West Bank villages of Deir Jarir and Silwad where villages were protesting the construction on their land by members of the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra, May 3, 2013. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli settlers and Palestinian demonstrators throw stones at each other, after settlers marched onto the lands of the West Bank villages of Deir Jarir and Silwad where villages were protesting the construction on their land by members of the nearby Jewish settlement of Ofra, May 3, 2013. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

During the second Sukkot holiday and the weekend preceding it, Yesh Din investigators documented 29 incidents of assault on Palestinians and their property by Israeli civilians (note that these are only the incidents known to us). The majority of the Israeli media did not report on the incidents, which included an attempt to set the home of a Palestinian family on fire using a firebomb, as well as an assault on an ambulance near the village of Burin. In a series of cases, IDF soldiers reportedly stood idly by and did not prevent attacks on the innocent or their property, despite their legal obligation to do so.

People unfamiliar with the events in the West Bank may think that ideological violence by Israeli civilians only appears as a response to terror attacks. In reality, such attacks take place on ordinary days as well. The response of those responsible for law enforcement in the West Bank – the Israeli government and the IDF – is the same: to ignore Israeli law breakers as much as possible. Israeli civilians know that when they go on the prowl, not only (despite the claims of the Minister of Defense) will IDF troops treat them less harshly when they throw stones or set fields ablaze.The security forces will also aid them by using crowd-dispersal weapons against Palestinian landowners, not the trespassers – who often walk into the very center of Palestinian villages. They also know that no one else will do anything to them. The chance that the complaint lodged by a Palestinian will lead to the conviction of an Israeli who commits an ideological crime is only 1.9 percent.

And they know something else too: that the government of Israel, forced to pretend to be shocked, absolutely shocked by their attacks, is not all that perturbed. Two days before the recent wave of violence erupted, the prosecution informed the High Court of Justice, in response to our petition, that not only does it have no intention of removing the outpost of Adei Ad, it actually intends to legalize it.

Adei Ad, which was highlighted in our “The Road to Dispossession” report, is wholly illegal. The prosecution does not deny it; it actually admits there are demolition orders against all structures in it; it is clear that over the years, 150 cases of illegal construction were opened against it, of which 97 are still open; it further admits that according to government, the Nationalistic Crime Section of the police opened 36 cases in 2014, with an emphasis on the Shiloh Valley area, where Adei Ad is located. None of this deters the government: it intends to begin legalizing the outpost.

A hearing on the fate of Adei Ad was held this week in the High Court, which gave the court 180 days to come up with a good answer for why it does not want to remove it. According to Yesh Din files, and as reported to the High Court, between 2005 and 2013, 96 criminal offenses were carried out by Israeli civilians in the vicinity of Adei Ad, many of them violent. In the whole of Shiloh Valley we found 146 cases, only six of which went to court; all the rest of the cases were closed, vast majority of them due to police negligence. And these are only the cases in which the Palestinian victim decided to lodge a complaint with the police; there are quite a few cases in which the victim decided not to — they didn’t see a point.

Adei Ad is a microcosm of the occupation: it represents the settlement policy of the Israeli government, which incentivizes felons to invade land and take it over. It then rushes to provide them with IDF protection and basic utilities. Then the outpost expands. At first, the Palestinians are prohibited from entering the outpost itself; then, they are barred from entering its security perimeter; following that they are forbidden to enter nearby land, unless the army allows it and in coordination with it. And after all that come the threats and attacks on farmers who did not yet get the hint and continued working their land near the outpost.

Almost all of none cases are ever solved. Agricultural settlements that lose access to their land also lose their ability to make a living. Palestinian villages whose land was stolen by the Israeli government and outlaws, like those of Adei Ad, suffer from high rates of emigration.

And then comes the reward. After 17 years of invading land, abusing Palestinians and ignoring the law, the government announces it will purify the impure. Its agents may now collect their reward.

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.

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    1. Ben

      Peter Beinart in a recent speech:

      “while we condemn Palestinian violence, we must recognize this painful truth: that Israeli policy has encouraged it. Israel has encouraged it by penalizing Palestinian nonviolence, by responding to that nonviolence by deportations, teargas, imprisonment, and the confiscation of Palestinian lands. Hard as it is to say, the Israeli government is reaping what it has sowed.”

      Beinart spoke of three people among others: Mubarak Awad, whose story +972 covered last week; Abdullah Abu Rahme of the occupied village of Bil’in; and former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, who Israel treated contemptuously even as he was offering himself as an economic partner to Israel in the West Bank, all the while Israel expanded settlements rapaciously. (The same Israel that says that it wants peace and longs for a partner. Yeah, right.) Read about it here:


      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Mondoweiss eh? A more biased (full of hate) publication one cannot find no matter how hard one tries. But Benny quotes from it. That tells us what Benny himself is about. As for his comment, again…

        It is exactly the other way around. It is the Palestinian Arabs who never reciprocated Israeli concessions and who responded to very painful Israeli concessions with violence. For instance…

        1. Oslo

        2. Ehud Barak’s peace offer

        3. Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal.

        4. Ehud Olmert’s peace offer.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          We have covered items 1-4 of yours so many times here and, I believe, refuted them thoroughly–these dead horses shall not be rebeaten here–so the point you are trying to make about so-called “concessions” has no legs to stand on.

          The topic here is “How the government rewards its most violent settlers.

          Israel penalizes nonviolence. It does this in an organized, concerted, sustained and “effective” way for long periods of time. And then it acts shocked and aggrieved when violence ensues. As Beinart says, by that it reaps what it sows.

          And beyond that, as Phil Weiss says, for someone who gets it about how Israel penalizes nonviolence, Beinart himself has his own curious American liberal Zionist blind spots regarding boycott, and about one democratic state.

          But look, Phil Weiss is entitled to his opinions. Ritually chanting “Mondoweiss” as if it were a witches’ incantation over a bubbling cauldron is rather hackneyed. And in any event, I’m quoting Beinart in the main. Try as you might you can’t demonize Peter Beinart as “hateful.” So whatcha gonna do?

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav


            Of course Benny is not flogging his dead horse which has been thoroughly debunked many times over before. Not much…

            But being Benny has special priviliges or so he thinks. So he puts on a brave front, has a stiff upper lip and keeps on pretending that he has not been thoroughly trounced in this debate. LOL.

            In a nutshell…

            First there was Palestinian Arab violence. Which begot the occupation, which then gives them the excuse for more violence (or so they think) instead of making peace so that the occupation could end.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            This is how Benny responded when I mentioned Ehud Barak’s 2000/01 peace initiative on another thread. He described Barak’s offer as…

            “Unwilling to pay a fair price for peace”

            Now what does that tell anyone who is even slightly analytical and who hasn’t got an axe to grind? It implies that…

            1. Benny thinks that only WE need peace, the Palestinian Arabs don’t.

            2. Therefore, peace is some sort of a commodity which the Palestinian Arabs can sell us and charge “a fair price for”, a bit like mafiosi sell their protection racket.

            And Benny smugly thinks he is winning the debate, LOL!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Analytical.” Lol. Someone who goes around stealing their neighbor’s land and resources by hook and by crook and all sorts of shady and brutal practices and outright cruelty and never above board and sneaks around moving their people into buildings in the middle of the night and defies international law for 48 years ought to be very, very careful about using a Mafiosi analogy! Very careful. Wow do you lack insight. In any market there are buyers and sellers. Both sides in this market want peace and both want land. The issue is basic minimum fairness and decency that ends the conflict. Gershon Baskin on Barak’s offer:

            ‘”Israel has offered the Palestinians everything but they have turned down every offer and walked away.” Those making this statement go on to say that at Camp David prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat the whole shop, but Arafat was not interested in making peace. Arafat refused to give up the right of return and was not interested in a Palestinian state. The truth is that at Camp David Barak offered Arafat 89 percent of the West Bank with full Israeli control of Palestine’s external borders – the Palestinians called it a sovereign cage. Barak’s proposal included two east-west corridors under full Israeli control, cutting the West Bank into three cantons. Barak did not offer the Palestinians a capital in east Jerusalem, but in Abu Dis, which is outside of Jerusalem, and perhaps some control of the outlying Palestinian neighborhoods. Israel would continue to control all of the main Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and the Old City. Barak demanded a place for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which is what led directly to the failure of Camp David. On the issue of refugees, a total of six hours of talks took place in two weeks, during which time Arafat said that there had to be a solution for the refugees and that he could not give up the right of return on behalf of the refugees. This was the essence of Barak’s “take it or leave it proposal.” There isn’t a Palestinian alive who could accept it.’

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yet Arafat was falling over backwards and pretended that Oslo was for him even though clearly it was only offering autonomy, not a fully independent Palestinian Arab state. Rabin clearly said so publicly on TV.

            But Arafat rejected Barak’s offer which offered much more. It offered an end of the occupation and an independent Palestinian Arab state.

            Why? Because Arafat was a cynic and a liar. He played Rabin like a fiddle. He used Oslo to regain his political credibility which he lost by supporting Sadam in gulf war 1.

            But by the time he got Ehud Barak’s offer, which Bill Clinton described as an opportunity of a lifetime, Arafat felt confident enough not only to just say NO and to try to negotiate a better deal, he felt confident enough to start a murderous intifada which he thought would help him to extort a better deal.

            See Benny? An Israeli Prime Minister made concessions. Even if your Arabs felt that those concessions were not enough, they should not have responded with violence. The fact that they did, proves my contention, NOT yours. We got violence in response to our peace offer.

            Facts are facts, Benny. You can ignore them but most people are not stupid even though you seem to think that they are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Oh and Benny read the statement that I, as in me, I, made…

            Don’t talk to me about …

            “Those making this statement…”

            Talk to me about the statement that I, little old me made, otherwise, to use your bosom buddy’s idiom, YR’s, you are talking about straw men. But hey, it comes naturally for you, eh Benny?

            Reply to Comment