The United Nations must rescind its incorrect narrative about how settlers kidnapped a Palestinian teenager in August, which used language that pushes antisemitic paradigms, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan charged on Tuesday.
In a letter written to UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland last week, Dagan took issue with Wennesland’s briefing to the Security Council in New York in August that included allegations by a Palestinian teenager that he had been kidnapped and beaten by a group of Jewish settlers. The letter was released to the press Tuesday night.
Dagan said that Wennesland called the alleged attacks by Jews against a Palestinian teen “heinous,” but that Palestinians convicted of killing Jews in terrorist attacks were called “martyrs.”
The difference between the language used to describe Jewish and Palestinian violence was antisemitic, said Dagan.
In addition, the accusations by the Palestinian teen were unsubstantiated and taken out of context, he said.
IDF and Israel Police forces in August linked the kidnapping accusations to reports of a stone-throwing incident that occurred near the evacuated Homesh settlement near the northern West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin.
The army at the time said it had received a report that day of Palestinians throwing stones at Israelis near Homesh.
Forces arriving at the scene saw the Israelis, presumed to be settlers, chasing after a Palestinian teenager. The soldiers intervened and returned the young man to his family, the IDF said at the time.
Palestinian NGO Defense for Children International-Palestine filmed Tareq Abdel Razzak Mohammed Zubaidi, age 15, describing the event and publicized his narrative.
“On 17 August, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was attacked in the northern West Bank, during which a group of Israeli settlers kidnapped the boy, tied him to a tree, and brutally assaulted, cut and burned him,” Wennesland told the UNSC.
“I am deeply concerned by this heinous act and I expect the Israeli authorities to undertake a swift, thorough and transparent investigation and ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable,” he added. Wennesland made no reference to any reports of a stone-throwing that led to the attack.
Dagan disputed Wennesland’s description of the attack.
“Israeli authorities do not seem to have found any evidence that the teenage member of the rock-throwing gang was ‘kidnapped’ or ‘brutally assaulted’ or burned by any Jewish individual. Additionally, no reliable medical report on the incident mentions that the minor was ‘burned’ – by anyone,” Dagan said.
In September, prior to Dagan’s letter, Wennesland had already toned down his characterization of the attack when he included it in his UNSC briefing.
“On 17 August, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was attacked... during which a group of Israeli settlers kidnapped the boy and brutally assaulted him,” Wennesland said. He neglected, for the second time, to reference reports that it was connected to a stone-throwing incident.
In his August UNSC briefing, Wennesland also referenced the Palestinian Authority’s monthly payments to the families of jailed and slain Palestinian terrorists, whom he referred to as “martyrs.”
During his September briefing, he dropped the reference to “martyrs” when describing what Israelis have dubbed as the PA’s “pay-for-slay” policy.
Nothing in his language indicated that the policy involved payments to Palestinians responsible for killing innocent Israeli citizens.
Dagan said that Wennesland’s report had potentially damaging consequences.
“Surely you are also aware that allegations of Jewish and Israeli violence, even when not true, tend to encourage antisemitic acts of violence against Jews,” Dagan wrote.
“I expect you and all relevant UNSC officials to amend the protocol and to remove the offending antisemitic accusations,” Dagan wrote.
“Please take care that future reports are fact-based and do not include unverified or antisemitic accusations or innuendo as occurred in this fiasco,” he added.