Are security forces helping Jewish rioters attack Palestinians, MK asks

There have been 400 documented cases of such violence so far this year, and 500 incidents last year, Meretz MK Michal Rozin said.

A scene from a recent clash in the settlement of Yizhar in the West Bank. (photo credit: BORDER POLICE)
A scene from a recent clash in the settlement of Yizhar in the West Bank.
(photo credit: BORDER POLICE)

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) asked the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) whether Israeli security forces are cooperating with Jewish extremist violence against Palestinians, during a stormy session on West Bank violence on Tuesday.

“Have the authorities closed their eyes to this, let alone cooperated with the [Jewish] rioters?” Rozin asked the committee.

There have been 400 documented cases of such violence so far this year, and 500 incidents last year, Rozin said.

FADC chairman MK Ram Ben Barak (Yesh Atid) said the phenomenon of Jewish civilian violence against Palestinians needs to be “eradicated,” adding that such actions harms both the standing of the State of Israel and the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Ben Barak asked representatives of the security forces that were present whether “the IDF reaction would be the same” in responding to an incident in which one of their vehicles was stoned by someone who was Jewish or Palestinian.

Brig.-Gen. Yaron Finkelman, who heads the IDF Operations Division, said that all such responses are situational and depend on the degree to which the soldiers consider that it is a life-threatening situation. Sgt. Ziv Sagi, head of the Police Investigation Department, said that 189 Palestinians and 22 Israelis were arrested during West Bank clashes last year.

In addition, Sagi said that 242 investigatory files were opened against Palestinians for disorderly conduct during riots and 115 such investigation files were opened against Israelis. He did not offer any other context to the data to explain if these were riots that involved Palestinians and settlers, or ones that solely involved Palestinian clashes with the IDF.

Ben Barak held the meeting in the aftermath of a number of violent incidents by settlers and Jewish extremists against Palestinians, including a group attack last month against the South Hebron Hills village of Khirbat al-Mufaqara in which a three-year old Palestinian boy suffered a head injury.

 THREE YEAR-OLD Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh suffered a head wound in the attack serious enough to require a three-day hospital stay at Soroka Medical Center. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF) THREE YEAR-OLD Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh suffered a head wound in the attack serious enough to require a three-day hospital stay at Soroka Medical Center. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Rozin said that what bothered her about that incident was the presence of IDF soldiers during the attack.

The meeting took place among reports of settler extremist violence against security forces, including the stoning of a Border police vehicle on Monday in the Yitzhar settlement in which a Border Police officer was injured.

The meeting itself had been called to debate the security services’ response to extremist Israelis.

Right-wing politicians, including Religious Zionist Party MKs Orit Struck and Itamar Ben-Gvir and Likud MK Yoav Kisch, asked that the actions of left-wing extremists be part of the debate and blamed the violence on provocation by the Left.

“What bothers me,” Kisch said, is that “there are extremist left-wing organizations that act violently.”

MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) interrupted him, shouting, “You’re lying!”

Kisch answered, “It’s hard to hear the truth” but these left-wing extremists head to Judea and Samaria to provoke and incite violence so that they can film the incidents.

He turned to the police and IDF representatives present and asked them: “Are you prepared to deal with this?”

Ben Barak tried to encourage the participants to limit their comments to the issue of violence, but left-wing politicians blamed the situation on Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank. Right-wing politicians blamed European and international funding of left-wing organizations.

Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich said that incidents of Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians were far greater than the reports of Israeli civilian violence against Palestinians.

MK Gaby Lasky (Meretz) said that many incidents of violence stemmed from land disputes between settlers and Palestinians.

At times, tempers boiled over into shouting matches that made it impossible for the meeting to proceed.

Cassif made a hybrid of the word settler and terrorist, which he used to speak of settler violence.

“Those in uniform are in cahoots with them,” Cassif said.

“How can you speak that way about soldiers? You should be embarrassed,” Ben-Gvir shouted. “They are defending you!”

Ben-Ram then threw both of them out of the meeting.