Paying for the ‘price-tag’ policy

Tolerating settlers’ violence against Palestinians contradicts Israel’s claim that it upholds the rule of law.

soldiers, settlers 248.63 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
soldiers, settlers 248.63
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
It is no secret that over the course of the past several months, Israeli settlers in the West Bank have randomly attacked Palestinian villagers and their property after their government makes decisions they oppose. Settlers who resist the government’s limited attempts to implement the partial freeze of settlement expansion have adopted what they call the “price tag” policy, an irrational and indiscriminate policy applied against Palestinians who have no role in Israeli decision-making processes.
The motive is to punish Palestinians for something they are not responsible for. In doing so, the settlers put themselves above the law.
The latest ‘price-tag’ violence took place late last month in the Palestinian village of Burin. Several people from the Bracha settlement near Nablus raided the village and attacked Palestinian homes. This came in response to the government’s demolition of several caravans near the settlement of Yitzhar. “Two of our residents were injured, one seriously.
A house under construction was seriously damaged and dozens of dunams of land and olive trees were set on fire,” said Ali Eid, head of the Burin village council.
On the same day, settlers blocked roads at 11 intersections in the West Bank and hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles.
There is a clear pattern of settlers behaving in ways that would not be tolerated in any law-abiding democracy. In May, settlers from Asfar burned more than 200 trees belonging to Palestinians from the village of Sa’ir, near Hebron. There have also been reports of settlers hitting Palestinians with their cars and driving away; since May this has happened in Hebron, Qalqilya and Al Jab’a near Bethlehem.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported 120 attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians and Palestinian property in the first five months of 2010 – more than twice the average for the same period in each of the previous four years.
IN CONTRAST, when Palestinians protest the Israeli security barrier built on their lands, or house demolitions in east Jerusalem or elsewhere, Israel calls these peaceful demonstrations violent and security forces apply brutal countermeasures.
The rule of law is thus applied selectively against Palestinians.
The Israeli authorities do little about these unprovoked attacks on Palestinian civilians, and even less to prevent the settlers’ continuing rampages.
Many violations and attacks occur without consequences for the perpetrators.
In several incidents where Israel police detained some settlers suspected in the attacks, it released them shortly thereafter without taking action. In the latest case – the killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in May allegedly by a settler near Ramallah – the only suspect was released after a few hours.
Tolerating settlers’ violence contradicts Israel’s claim that it upholds the rule of law.
The Israeli government should take responsibility and stop these attacks on Palestinians.
Measures should be put in place to hold the settlers accountable for their brutality.
The writer has a degree in journalism and communication from the American University in Cairo. He lives in Ramallah and works for the Palestinian Government Media Center.