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Suspected settler attack on IDF base

Haaretz is reporting that ‘unknown assailants’ infiltrated an Israeli military base near Binyamin in the occupied West Bank. The assailants then snuck into the mechanics area of the base and slashed the tires and cut cables of 12 military jeeps. The assailants spray painted the words “price tag” on various walls of the base before leaving the scene undisturbed. This attack comes days after armed settlers attacked and desecrated a mosque near the settlement of Migron.

What would happen if the Palestinians carried out such an attack? Would the IDF spokesman maintain silence and leave the issue unreported had masked Palestinians attacked Israeli military jeeps? Recently, Israel announced that it would arm settlers with ‘non-lethal’ weapons in anticipation of any violence surrounding the PA’s statehood bid.  Even a casual observer of the conflict can see through this petty Israeli PR stunt since it is open knowledge that settlers carry live ammunition.

The recent series of attacks demonstrates once again that Jewish settlers in the West Bank are one of the most dangerous and volatile elements on the ground. Of all people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, settlers are the non-military group most likely to be armed. Many do not know understand that it is extremely difficult for regular Israelis to obtain firearms. One has to demonstrate a need for the weapon and there is no second amendment, like in the United States, which protects the citizen’s right to bear arms.  Other than security guards, the only people in Israeli society that are consistently able to prove a need to bear arms are settlers.

If Israel is going to be taken seriously by the international community as having  the political capital to change facts on the ground in the West Bank, it must reign in its rogue settlers. In the absence of severe punishment for those responsible for the attacks on the mosque and the army base, Israel’s ability to control its own population should be seriously questioned.  With the UN vote on Palestinian statehood looming large, Israel needs to take an assertive stand against settlers and demonstrate the control necessary to be considered a legitimate partner for peace.

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    1. Tamara

      If Israel was at all a peace partner, it would stop building settlements. Settlers are good so Israel can get rid of those Fakestinians

      Reply to Comment
    2. laila

      Joseph, my opinion is that the most remarkable aspect in the army giving “non-lethal” weapons to the settlers is the fact that the state is officially handing over to civilians tasks like crowd control that should belong only to police and army.
      On one side the Israeli military system is admitting its inability to protect the Israeli civilians placed in occupied territories.
      On the other hand, as you mention here, some settler groups, especially from extremists settlements, have been for many years a dangerous paramilitary militia, with little or no accountability to the law. The fact that this people are now potentially in charge of the repression of popular demonstrations make the whole issue really worrisome.
      Not to mention that the so called “non-lethal” weapons handled by Israeli army and police have been proved lethal enough in more than one occasion.
      I do believe that this announcement brings things to a different level in comparison with the settlers being armed as private citizens or namely for the defense of the settlements.

      Reply to Comment
    3. IDF handing over to civilians the police power? well, yes and no. No Israelis are supposed to reside inside occupied territories EXCEPT army (you know, in uniforms, under a military command hierarchy, and so forth). So these settlers (illegal combatants?) are like the gunmen and rocketeers in Gaza, sort of soldiers, sort of illegal combatants, sort of terrorists.

      Now, even without the international law aspects, one may see why the settlement project was a bad idea (unless, of course, you approve of Israeli terrorism AGAINST IDF — in which case, settlemetn was a good idea).

      Could Israel “solve” this episode by claiming to have prof that it was Palestinians who broke into military bases, etc., etc.? Watch this space!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Piotr Berman

      I normally ridicule “double standard” crowd, but irregular militias are more norm than exception in various conflicts. And all too often then tend to be, well, irregular.

      So I would not call them “illegal combatants”. The guys from Gaza I would call simply “fighters”. With settlers it is a bit tricky: is it fighting? Perhaps it would be more precise to call them “hooligans.”

      The problem is that among these hooligans there are also terrorist who can strike at Jews and Arabs. This can be called pet cobra problem. It is absolutely certain that evacuation of a larger number of settlements will entail assassinations by the most fanatical among the settlers.

      Reply to Comment
    5. ToivoS

      Somehow it does not sound like an easy job for outsiders to infiltrate an IDF base, sabotage equipment and then escape undetected. This has all of the ear marks of members of that base cooperating if not conducting the actions themselves. This means that not only are the settlers out of control, but the IDF itself is in danger of joining them.

      Reply to Comment
    6. eitan hajbi

      at last! the acts of revange by the settlers, each time they had a disagreement with the israeli authorities, was always against the palestinians: burning mosks, fields, cars, phisical attacks towards civilans and stone throwing on arab vilages. for once now their reaction is towards the israeli army.

      Reply to Comment
    7. ( Israel needs to ) “demonstrate the control necessary to be considered a legitimate partner for peace.”

      And what should Israel expect from the Palestinians (ALL factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PRC etc.)in order that they, too, can be considered a serious partner?

      It is perfectly clear that these so called “price tag” attacks are either the work of a few hotheaded youths – or a deliberate provocation by the Arabs. Nothing has yet been proven to the time of writing.

      But, even assuming the former, it cannot be claimed that these actions are representative of all those Israeli citizens living beyond the green line. The vast majority of them understand that such actions are totally counter productive – from a PR standpoint if nothing else, and they are cleverer than that.

      Of course it is is Israel’s interest to catch and punish the perpetrators.

      But let’s not get carried away by the hysterical over-reaction that has erupted in so many left wing journals and blogs.

      Everyone needs to maintain a sense of proportion and concentrate on the really serious challenges that lie ahead.

      Reply to Comment
    8. jdledell

      I’ll echo Toivos’ point. It is near impossible to infiltrate an IDF base and escape unnoticed. I am sure that the settlers had IDF soldiers help getting in and as well as an assist in the damage. Remember more and more IDF recruits are coming from Hesder yeshivas and majority of them consider Torah law above civilian or military law.

      Reply to Comment