West Bank shooting victims Kim Yehezkel (29), Ziv Hajbi (35).
(photo credit: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT)
It was a week that made you wonder if there is ever going to be a time when Israeli-Palestinian violence begins to dissipate.
It started last Sunday with the horrific attack at the Barkan Industrial Park in the Samaria region of the West Bank that took the lives of two Israelis – Ziv Hajbi, a 35-year-old father of three, and Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel, the 28-year-old mother of a toddler – and wounded another Jewish Israeli woman. The attacker, identified as Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alwa, 23, from the village of Shuweika near the West Bank Palestinian city of Tulkarm, is still at large.
And the week ended with another violent weekend along the Israel-Gaza border, involving infiltrations, rock throwing, grenades and incendiary aerial devices from the Palestinian side, resulting in seven of the rioters being killed by IDF forces.
Sandwiched in between those ongoing, senseless deaths resulting from Palestinian extremism and hatred toward Israelis and Jews, was another attack that is just as troubling. Aysha al-Rabi, a 45-year-old Palestinian from Za’atara, near Nablus, was killed on Friday night after being hit in the head by a flying rock aimed at the car she was traveling in with her husband Yacoub near the Tapuah Junction on Route 60 in the West Bank.
Israel Radio reported Sunday that the Israel Police was questioning a number of students from a nearby yeshiva on suspicion of being involved in the deadly attack, but a gag order has been placed on the rest of the details of the investigation.
The Palestinian Authority was quick to blame settlers for the heinous act, despite the area being well known as a location for Palestinian rock throwers. PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement condemning “the despicable crime that was perpetrated by settlers, under the protection of the state of occupation.”
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov was also quick to tweet his condemnation, writing that “a Palestinian woman was killed and her husband injured by stones allegedly thrown by Israeli assailants. Those responsible must be swiftly brought to justice. I urge all to stand up to violence and terror.”
Interestingly, after the Barkan attack, in which there was little doubt as to the perpetrator or the motives, Mladenov’s twitter feed was silent. Apparently only attacks by Jews on Palestinians – even if they are not proven – warrant the UN’s condemnation.
If the attack does turn out to be at the hands of Jewish extremists, or in this case terrorists, then security forces and Israel’s leaders should act to nab the perpetrators and condemn the act with the same veracity that takes place when the victims are Jewish and the culprits Palestinians.
There can be no differentiation of the race and nationality of victims and perpetrators when it comes to terrorism. And there must not be a score-card mentality with a tally of acts of terrorism committed by one side against the other to justify retaliation and revenge.
The concept of Israeli terror cells in the territories is not far-fetched. It’s clear that a small segment of the settler population, some centered in settlements near the Tapuah Junction, are against any arrangement with the Palestinians in their midst and are capable of acts of violence – whether it be cutting down olive trees, torching or defacing mosques, or throwing rocks.
Israeli authorities must do everything in their power to monitor and prevent the ability of these extremists to disrupt life for their fellow Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the West Bank. It remains to be seen if those rabble-rousers are behind Friday’s fatal rock throwing incident. But the sooner that an investigation can be completed and an arrest made, the quicker the window can close on conjecture, accusations and all-out blame being hurled at the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
No matter who is to blame, the death of al-Rabi is another painful reminder, like the loss of Hajbi and Levengrond-Yehezkel, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows no signs of ceasing its endless appetite for victims. And unlike the UN special coordinator, it's possible to mourn for all of them.
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