Partners for Progressive Israel Condemns Wanton Settler Attacks and Security Forces’ Tacit Complicity
Partners for Progressive Israel condemns the wanton attack this week by Israeli settlers in the Southern Hebron Hills against the Palestinian residents of al-Mufagara. This attack represents the most extreme example of settler violence in years. But it is no isolated case – indeed, it is part of an agonizingly long series of such malign deeds committed with growing frequency for many years. It is the shocking irony of history that people whose ancestors were the victims of pogroms have now become the perpetrators of such acts of terror.
It is shocking, but hardly surprising: Thirteen years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used the term to describe the unprovoked settler violence against Palestinians, expressed his shame as a member of the Jewish people, and committed his government “to do [its] utmost to prevent” such events.
Unfortunately, rather than prevent settler violence, Israel’s security forces in the occupied territory have, for the most part, turned a blind eye to it, doing little or nothing to stop these attacks even when – like at al-Mufagara – they are present and on the scene. Such behavior is a form of complicity, a signal to the pogromists that their violence will be tolerated, thus emboldening them to expand the scope of their future assaults.
While there is certainly an element of base hatred in these settler attacks, it would be a misread of the situation to define it solely in those terms. Indeed, while the means they use might be different, the goal of the violent settlers, like the goal of the settlement movement generally, and like the goal of the political leaders of the Israeli right, is to shrink Palestinian living space and expand Israeli control over territory.
Ultimately, the solution must be found through an end to occupation so that Palestinians can enjoy the same level of rights and the same protections enjoyed by Israeli citizens. Until that time, however, we call upon the Israeli government to carry out its most basic responsibility under international law as an occupying power and see to the maintenance of public order and safety throughout all the territory under its control.