The Islamic Post Blog

Settler Violence on the Rise by Khalida

Settler violence continued to escalate in November after Israeli policemen dismantled an “illegal” outpost, subsequently coming under a hail of stones from inhabitants.
In ensuing settler riots, anger was taken out at Palestinian graves which were defaced with paint.
Tensions were triggered this autumn  after an incident involving a Palestinian living in the occupied territory who, in violation of religious holiday rules, drove his car through a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in the city of Acre in October. Stones were pelted at the man, as he went to collect his daughter from relatives who lived in the Jewish area of town. Subsequent clashes lasted five days.
The unrest carried on into the beginning of the two month long olive season which also began in October in the West Bank city of Hebron. Reuters reported that 40 members of the group Rabbis for Human Rights would act as “human shields” if necessary, to protect Palestinian olive growers. Israeli police and soldiers have already been grappling, in Hebron, with settlers who “tried to drive off local Palestinians and international supporters of Palestinian rights in the West Bank,” Reuters said. “It’s unfortunate that some people filled with mistaken religious fervor are choosing to insult, be violent, and try to steal the olives,”  said the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, Arik Ascherman.
Arab News reported the militants say they want a secure route from the settlement, through the olive grove, to a cave regarded as a Jewish holy site. About this matter, Rabbi Ascherman commented, “There are those who say all the land of Israel belongs only to the Jewish people.”
Outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert seems to concur with the Rabbi. “If we sit on another hilltop, or another hundred meters…is [this] what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”
Mr. Olmert also strongly denounced the recent settler provocations saying, “This is a group, that is not small, of… people who behave in a way that threatens proper law and governance…This is unacceptable and we cannot countenance it.”
“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert began. “The time has come to say these things.”
But religious and political leaders are not the only ones denouncing the violence.The officer responsible for the entire West Bank, General Gadi Shamni, also expressed “harsh criticism” to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz for “extremist West Bank settlers.”
However, according to Gen. Shamni, the acts of violence are being encouraged by some members of the general public, settler leadership, and even rabbis.
A senior rabbi in the Gush Etzion settlements south of Jerusalem recently published a pamphlet in which he said Jews in the Peace Now organization deserved the death penalty. According to The National of Dubai, the religious leader denounced the peace activists as “worse than heretics and apostates.”
“In the past, only a few dozen individuals took part in such activity, but today that number has grown into the hundreds,” said Gen. Shamni, “That’s a very significant change. These hundreds are engaged in conspiratorial actions against Palestinians and the security forces. It is a very grave phenomenon.”


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