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Subject: 130-Settler_Assaults_12_93

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Report No. 130 Israel Shahak, 10 December 1993

Assaults of the religious settlers upon the Palestinians


Since its its inception in June 1967, the Israeli conquest

regime in the Territories was marked by an enormous amount of

violence against the Palestinians. Almost immediately, that

regime became one of apartheid which in some respects has been

much stricter than South African apartheid at its worst. Until

1974, as long as the Territories were governed by Moshe Dayan as

Defense minister, one feature of modern jurisprudence was

scrupulously observed. The government then kept the monopoly of

violence in its own hands, letting no Jewish individuals assault

the Palestinians with impunity and letting no lawlessness

influence its policies. In this respect, Dayan was faithful to

the doctrine of Ben-Gurion which had rested on these two

principles and their strict enforcement.


This state of affairs changed only with the rise of Gush Emunim

in 1974-75 which, not by chance, coincided with the first

government of Rabin, in which Shimon Peres served as a Defense

minister, using this post to protect Gush Emunim's settlement and

violence. Since that time private violence has tended to mount

when the Defense ministry, responsible for the Territories, was

in the hands of Labor. Such a violence soared under the "national

unity" government of 1984-90, when Rabin was Defense minister,

plummeted under Arens [1990-1992] and flared up again after Rabin

came to power in July 1992. In both qualitative and quantitative

terms, it has acquired an unprecedented intensity since

mid-September of 1993. Anticipating it almost a year ago,

commentators close to the Israeli army, like Ze'ev Shiff,

expressed fears that the Territories may undergo "a process of

Lebanonization". Indeed, the last term seems now fit as a

description of the existing situation.


Violent assaults upon the Palestinians in the Territories are

in an overwhelming majority perpetrated by Jewish religious

settlers, and they have two peculiarities. In the first place

those assaults are overtly and avowedly aimed at perfectly

innocent randomly chosen individuals or groups of people. Their

avowed "purpose" is either "to relieve the feelings of distress

of the assaulters", or "to teach the Arabs a lesson", or else to

somehow "influence" the Palestinian population to prevent future

violence. (The first of these rationalization is recognized by

the Israeli government as valid.) Regardless of whether the

assaults cause injury to persons or "only" to property, they

imply the recourse to violence against innocent bystanders for

the sake of a political purpose. As such they can only be

regarded as acts of terror, and the God-fearing assaulters as

terrorists. Accordingly, the organizations responsible for these

assaults are terroristic organizations, even though they are

perfectly legal, and generously assisted financially and

otherwise by the Israeli government. Accordingly, the Israeli

government which not only tolerates the violence in question, but

also, as will be shown below, abets it, can only be defined as a

terror-supporting government. (By the way, when Israel accuses

the governments of Syria or Iran of "supporting terror" it uses

exactly the same argument.) But since the State of Israel could

never abet settler terrorism without tacit approval by the U.S.

(see Report 129), the latter should also be regarded as

supporting the settler terrorism in the Territories, even more so

after the Agreement between Israel and the PLO was signed on the

White House lawns than prior to that event.


Let me reiterate the (already quoted in Report 124) criteria by

which terror is defined by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader.

These criteria were quoted by Amnon Abramovitz ("Maariv", August

6, 1993), in the context of his comments on the "Accountability

Operation" of July 1993, which Abramovitz regarded as terroristic

but, as he clarified in another article of his ("Maariv", August

9), nevertheless justifiable, because "a government which

sincerely desires peace is entitled to oppress, to bomb and to

exile people". The proof that the Rabin government "sincerely

desired peace" was seen by Abramovitz in that "it negotiated with

the PLO". Abramovitz borrowed the definition from the book

bearing the title "How the West can win" [Hebrew translation]

which Netanyahu had edited in the late 1970s. In a preface he

himself wrote, Netanyahu defined terror as "violence aimed at

people who have no connection with the aims of the terrorists."

He also claims that "the terrorists consciously and deliberately

choose the civilians as their targets", that they "threaten and

intimidate the civilians in order to thus achieve a political

aim" and that "for a terrorist the civilians are the key

concept". As will be shown below, these definitions fit the

settler terrorism to perfection.


But before providing examples, an important point needs to be

made about the present character of the Hebrew press. Since about

mid-October, as soon as it became clear that the implementation

of the Agreement between Israel and the PLO encounters serious

obstacles, a part of the Hebrew press decided to help the Israeli

government by increasingly concealing and misrepresenting

anything that might belie optimism about "the new Middle East"

and euphoria, common right after the Agreement had been signed

last September. For the Israeli Jewish public, two main reasons

to get distressed are Palestinian guerilla activities and the

settler terrorism. Reporting the former cannot be suppressed

(although it is no longer done with as much hate propaganda as

before the Agreement.) But insofar as the latter is concerned,

the failures and misrepresentations in its coverage are possible,

and they are much resorted in order to keep optimism of the

public high. Three papers have changed in this respect most

notably: "Haaretz", "Davar" and "Al Hamishmar", i.e. the papers

which most zealously support Rabin's government and its policies.

Concretely, "Haaretz" has provided only few rather tame

descriptions of settler terrorism, with the exception of that

perpetrated by marginal groups like the splinters of Kahanism

("Kach"). And the two other named papers keep their mouth shut

even more tightly. However, "Yediot Ahronot" and the "Ha'olam

Ha'ze" weekly have consistently remained accurate and detailed in

their coverage of settlers' exploits, and to some extent the same

holds true for "Hadashot" and for the Jerusalem Friday paper "Kol

Ha'ir". As for "Maariv", it remains a class in itself. The

description of events it provides reflects the point of view of

religious settlers, and it often publishes articles of their

leaders. But its editorials, authored by a right-winger Yoseph

Lapid, invariably denounce settler violence against the

Palestinians. Moreover, "Maariv" publishes plenty of articles by

Uri Avnery and Hayim Hanegbi which always reflect Yasser Arafat's

positions. This explains the selectivity in the use of the

sources in this report.


Let me begin the description and analysis of typical incidents

of settler terrorism with an article by "Ha'olam Ha'ze"

correspondent Amit Gurevitz (November 17), which deserves

extensive coverage. Gurevitz happened to do his reserve service

in a paratrooper unit stationed in Hebron shortly before he wrote

his article which draws much from the author's personal

experience, including his conversations with fellow soldiers,

most of whom proudly defined themselves as voters for the right-

wing Likud and Tzomet parties, and who yet professed their

loathing of religious settlers of the Hebron area. Some of them

confided to him that "they terminated their service with hard

feelings, not about the Arabs but about the settlers. The unit's

officers circulated among the soldiers a petition, intended to be

submitted to the Defense Ministry. The petition deplored the

hostile attitude toward them by the very settlers they were

ordered to protect". The article appeared shortly after a Hamas

guerilla assault resulted in killing a religious settler, Ephraim

Ayubi, who worked as the driver of Rabbi Druckman, one of the

most extremist Gush Emunim leaders. This is why Gurevitz is

careful to point out at the beginning of his article that

"according to the unanimous view of the unit's officers, duly

reported to the area's commanders, the murder of Ephraim Ayubi

was a retaliation for the settlers' rampages, in the course of

which the settlers burned 15 Arab-owned cars in a single day.

That arson, not reported in the Israeli media at all", (except

for a very short and hard-to-find note in "Haaretz") "took place

one day before the murder. Right after this arson, the soldiers

were told by their higher-ups to `expect an Arab retaliation'".

Although the most publicized (especially by the U.S. press)

exploits of settler terrorism do follow acts of violence of

Palestinian guerilla units, their retaliatory character is in

doubt. As in Ayubi's case, they may provoke the Palestinian to

retaliate. This is acknowledged by the internal communications of

the Israeli army which often admit that a given action of

Palestinian guerillas was "a retaliation". But in Israeli (let

alone the U.S.) propaganda Palestinian violence is invariably

described as "unprovoked" by anything which the settlers or the

Israeli government may have done.


Gurevitz quotes "a unit officer: `When we had to intervene in a

skirmish between the Arabs and the settlers, I felt more secure

when my back was turned to the Arabs than to the settlers'. The

unit's officers and soldiers have serious grievances, both about

the nature of their assignments and about the attitudes of the

Jews toward them... About the Jews living in Hebron they say:

`Their behavior towards the Arabs is intentionally provocative.

They consciously sabotaged our work. For example, they always

knew in advance which Hamas members we sought to arrest, but they

obstructed our searches so that we would fail to capture the

hard-core terrorists. They are interested in keeping tension in

the area, so as to prevent the emergence of any reconciliatory

mood. The settlers have a vested interest in perpetuating unrest,

in order to thus prove that despite the peace process, in Hebron

there is no order. We got the impression that they were ready to

die for that purpose. In their eyes, their own death would be a

martyrdom for the cause of sabotaging the political process'. The

soldiers testify that the settlers often harass Hebron Arabs in

front of the Israeli army troops. They overturn the crates in the

market, kick the elderly Arabs carrying the baskets, spit at

people, spray insecticides on fruits and vegetables, overturn the

carts loaded with tomatoes so as to crush them underfoot.

Particularly shocking for the soldiers was an incident in which

the settlers screamed `Mazal Tov!' [`Congratulations!' in Hebrew] at an

Arab family burying their child in front of an army equipment camp

near Beit Hadassah.


"But as the unit's officers and soldiers testify, the attitude

of the settlers toward the Israeli army soldiers was no less

scandalous. Even those soldiers who had had feelings of sympathy

for the Jewish settlers when they began to serve, were saying

`this is what bothers us most'. I know that this view is shared

by the commanders of a reserve unit which preceded our

paratrooper unit in serving on the spot. It is also shared by

many soldiers with whom I spoke, including the steadfast voters

for [the right-wing] Likud and Tsomet parties. All of them

stressed how shocked they were by the settlers' attitude toward

both the Arabs and the Israeli army, and by their attempts to

disrupt the army's routines. No wonder the soldiers began to ask

themselves on whose side the settlers were, and whom the army was

protecting. All the events desribed here have been reported to

the area's permanent military commanders, including the commander

of the `Hebron brigade' of the Israeli army, Colonel K".


One of the unit's major assignments in Hebron was the guarding

of the Patriarchs' Cave, a prayer site for both the religious

settlers and the Muslims. "B. R., a unit's soldier who in the

last elections voted for Tzomet recounts: `Most of us served in

this area for the first time. We came without prejudice... In the

Patriarchs' Cave, administered by the Islamic Waqf, the settlers

keep trying hard to disrupt the officially imposed status quo

between the Jews and the Arabs. For example, they enter the

Jacob's Hall before the 40 minutes of [officially imposed] break

between the Jewish and Moslem prayers are up. They are bringing

food there, which is against the regulations. Some of those who

guard the Patriarchs' Cave are religious `Hesder Yeshiva'

soldiers. But even they report how the settler children keep

spraying acid and scattering thumb-tacks on the carpets of that

Hall. The Muslims now have no choice but to collect the

thumb-tacks with a magnet before beginning to pray".

Another soldier Y.R., aged 26, who had voted for Tzomet in the

last elections, graphically described what he felt when

Palestinian children were beaten up by the settlers in his

presence: "Two weeks ago an Arab child carrying a Palestinian

flag passed me by. A Jewish woman who saw him assailed him, beat

him up, and snatched the flag from him while yelling at me:

'Soldier, come help!' Knowing that flag displays were already

permitted, I answered that there was nothing to do, since the

little boy had not committed any crime. She nevertheless kept

beating him. Suddenly I found myself in the role of a

kindergarten teacher, forced to intervene against Jewish woman

molesting a little Arab boy. Theoretically I could have told the

boy to get out of there, because it is always easier to deal with

an Arab than with a Jew. But in spite of my political views, I

found it hard to do so and thus act against the government's



Let me omit other disturbing facts in Gurevitz's description,

in order to concentrate on what is crucial in his article: namely

on the reasons for which the soldiers cannot call the religious

settlers to order. These reasons are not often discussed by

Hebrew papers now supporting Rabin. But Gurevitz was told by a

unit's officer that "the soldiers are forbidden to arrest a Jew,

except if he hits a soldier, or injures an Arab by shooting in

the presence of an Israeli army soldier". Beating the Arabs, or

humiliating them otherwise, or vandalizing their property before

the very eyes of the army soldiers is not regarded as "a

sufficient reason" for arresting a settler. Let me add that no

Jew can be arrested if he does the same. A rule to this effect

has remained in force since many years, but has never been

announced in public. It is explicitly communicated only to

high-ranking officers. Gurevitz quotes "another officer, T. who

complained that he had never received adequate explanations from

the permanent commanders of the area what is the standard

procedure by which the Jews are never arrested... An Arab is sent

to jail the minute he is seen to throw a stone. But the settlers

throw stones with impunity, or else they send girls or women to

throw stones or to overturn peddlars' carts in the market,

because they know that according to army regulations we are

forbidden to have physical contact with Jewish women, so we can

do nothing against them... Another of the settlrs' tricks is to

pretend to play football: the real purpose of the supposed game

being to smash windows in Arab houses or street lamps".

That story by Gurevitz is by no means an isolated instance

which happened to be published by the Hebrew press. Tzvi Gilat

("Yediot Ahronot", 9 November) found himself at 5:30 a.m. near

the religious settlement of Ma'aleh Levona, when he had "to brake

his car in front of a barbed wire fence spread out across the

highway. It was still too dark to see the fence shortly before

the sunrise, but several skull-capped youths suddenly appeared

peeking in to find out whether we were Jews. They were quite

high-spirited. `What is going on here? A local initiative?'

`Something of the sort', they answered. `Just look over there,

where our boys are burning tires, near Shilo junction. An Arab,

seeing the roadblock, will turn around and fall into our ambush'.

Several minutes later a small convoy of Arab cars indeed drove

towards the roadblock... An unfortunate driver was caught. He was

standing beside his car, with its doors open. The reserve tire

was flung on the road. Two settlers - one brandishing a pistol in

the air, the other aiming an Uzi submachine gun at him told him

to go away. The Arab started crying. He realized that his vehicle

was about to be burned. `Don't cry', the man with Uzi said - the

barrel ten centimeters from the driver's chin - `our people have

been crying already enough'. `I have ten children", the Arab

begged to spare the source of his livelihood. He took out his ID

card to prove that he was telling the truth. `We are not welfare

services', the religious settler replied callously. I asked them

what they intended to do with the car. It took them a minute to

decide. `We'll give it back to him provided he walks home'. Then,

as a gesture of good will, they let him take his cigarettes from

the car and watch his empty vehicle from a safe distance. Without

the media on the spot, they would probably have acted

differently". Gilat adds that soldiers were not far away from the

scene of the incident.


Hanna Kim ("Hadashot", November 9) inspected a roadblock set up

by religious settlers from the settlement of Yaqir, where "a

local hero, Yehuda, nicknamed by his neighbors `Crazy Yehuda'

revelled in all his glory. `Do you want to watch how an Arab gets

burned alive? Just point your camera at me', he boasted to the

reporters.... A bus of Arab workers arrived and Crazy Yehuda

yelled that he would not let it pass through. He screamed at the

(Jewish) driver: `You little parasite, take your Arabs back. Get

me some fire, so that I can burn you all", he shouted, and got on

the bus. The stunned Arab passengers stared at him in silence.

Two chums of Yehuda took him away from the bus, one of them

telling him to `shut up'. Two conscript soldiers, one of them a

lieutenant, and two reservists without indication of rank, were

watching it unruffled. `Because of them, I was waken up at 2:00

a.m.', one of the reservists explained. `Isn't it enough that I

have 23 days more to serve in the West Bank, in Tulkarm? Do I

need to do this as well?' The term `to do' was inappropriate as

the reservist remained seated throughout".


At a moment of quiet the religious settlers talked to Kim.

Crazy Yehuda told her that "they should be exterminated just as

we [the Israelites] had exterminated the Amalekites. [See Samuel

I, Chapter 15.) Not only the males, but entire families, and

their descendants no matter how remote. You just have to seek out

all the descendants'. His buddy, Meir, who was holding an Israeli

flag, upbraided the Israeli media for wanting to be on the spot

in order to document his deeds. `Hitler owed his successes to

Goebbels. You are doing the same'".


Like other correspondents, Kim recorded the numerous instances

of religious settlers mistaking secular Jews for Arabs. "A taxi

with an Israeli license plate somehow got the settlers excited.

`Let me pass through, or I'll punch your face,' yelled the Jewish

driver at Meir, demanding to see the former's ID card. A dilemma.

What is to be done with a vehicle whose Jewish passengers are

dark-skinned and look like Arabs?" On the spot of another

roadblock Kim witnessed "a near fistfight between a Jewish

secular settler with dark skin and black hair, a taxi driver from

Ariel, and a religious settler who suspected that the secular

settler was an Arab and demanded to see his ID card. The secular

settler was furious. `How do you dare suspect me of being an

Arab?' `You behave like the Arabs do' the religious settler

shouted back. The driver blushed, the arteries on his neck

looking like ready to burst. He clenched his fists, waving them

at the religious settler, until his pals forced him to step



But Kim also witnessed the "Oriental-looking Jews" who

sympathized with the religious settlers to the point of

encouraging them when stopped. "`Good for you,' one of them said.

`A Jewish intifada, that's what we now need'. After the car drove

away one religious settler muttered: 'The passenger on the back

seat looked to me like an Arab'. But a pal of his comforted him:

`That's not so bad if only one slipped through'".


Hillel Cohen ("Kol Ha'ir", November 12) reports how in Hebron

a group of settlers went to the Patriarchs' Cave cave for

Sabbath prayers. On their way there the settlers damaged 14 cars

belonging to Arab residents of the neighborhood. They smashed

their windows or punctured their tires, and then proceeded on to

the Cave, where they greeted the arrival of the Sabbath by

singing melodious songs... On Sunday, after a settler was killed

by Hamas guerillas, "Hebron was announced a military zone closed

to the media. A curfew was imposed on the city's Palestinian

residents. The army had good reason to deny the media access to

the place, because evidence of the settlers' rampage was

plentiful. Many huses and dozens of cars parked on the city's

major streets had windows broken. It was an ideal testimony of

the army's impotence vis-a-vis the settlers". Cohen comments that

"breaking the windows of an Arab car is in Hebron an everyday

occurrence which already long ago stopped attracting any

attention". After the army did not let Cohen enter Hebron, he

simply, together with his photographer, boarded the religious

settlers' bus in Jerusalem. In this way he could enter the city

undisturbed. "On the way, the religious youths from Kiryat Arba

kept themselves busy slinging stones at Arab passersby, while

summarily explaining their behavior by saying: `we are the

settlers, aren't we?' At the entrance to Kiryat Arba old grafitti

`Only a sucker doesn't kill an Arab' was still visible".


Like any Jew, settler or visitor alike, Cohen could walk freely

through "the city of Hebron even under curfew, when its streets

were deserted" with none of its Arab inhabitants in sight. He

noticed "evidence of the settlers' rampages from previous days"

everywhere: shattered windows, overturned cars and traces of

arson. Grafitti in Hebrew, noticed by other reporters, like

Gideon Levy ("Haaretz Supplement", November 26) were in full

view. Religious settlers threatened the locals with dire

consequences if they dare wipe out those grafitti. According to

Levy, the most frequent among them was the beginning of verse 7

of Psalm 149: "To execute vengeance upon the Gentiles"; whereas

the next in frequency was "Death to the Arabs". Apartheid

manifests itself in the Territories also in that the Israeli army

orders the local Palestinians to wipe out any grafitti in Arabic,

even those which express longing for peace; but grafitti in

Hebrew spraypainted by the settlers are left untouched,

regardless of their content. This racist practice has long

standing. The highway from Jerusalem to the "Military

Headquarters of Judea and Samaria" in Beit-El passes through a

bridge, and on that bridge a grafitti in Hebrew "To make

mincemeat of the Arabs" was spraypainted as long ago as 1986. The

officers serving in those Headquarters and the officials of both

Military and Civil Administrations which have their offices in

the same compound see it everyday. But it is still there, even

after the Oslo Agreement.


As a digression, it would be instructive to quote here verses

5-9 of Psalm 149 which is part of the Jewish Morning prayer,

which is often chanted by religious settlers, and which for Gush

Emunim serves as their virtual battle cry. The verses are: "Let

the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud upon their

beds. Let the praises of the Lord be in their mouth and a

two-edged sword in their hand. To execute vengeance upon the

Gentiles and punishments upon the nations. To bind their kings

with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. To execute

upon them the judgement which is written; this honor have all His

saints. Halleluyah!" The preference of pogromist religious

settlers for such bloodthirsty Biblical passages is self

explanatory. (Incidentally, the same passages exercised similar

influence on the more extreme among the Calvinists in the XVI and

XVII centuries.) But unfortunately, this linkage between the

Bible and political violence is hardly ever spoken about.


But let me return to Cohen's report. "The car of M., from the

Zaloum family (he preferred that his first name remains unknown,

"not out of fear, but as a precaution"), stands without tires not

far from the Cave. It was damaged before the assaults and the

curfew. Zaloum: `When Friday prayers were over, I left the Cave

and went to a street where my car was parked. I found all four

tires flat and all windows broken. Suddenly I heard something. I

looked around and saw a neighbor of mine sitting with a baby in

another car with a broken window. Her arm was bleeding.

Forgetting my car, I approached to find out what I could do.

Eventually she was taken to the hospital'. He said that during

recent months, the settlers have gone on this street on rampage

almost every Friday, always smashing the cars. His own car has

been smashed four times already; and he now wants to sell it,

even at half its price. `My problem is that I can't repair it any

more. Due to all that damage wrought, there is a shortage of

glass in Hebron. And tires are also difficult to find'".


Cohen also visited the victims of what he calls "an avenging

raid". A convoy of vehicles filled by religious settlers from

localities north of Jerusalem raided Arab villages and refugee

camps "two weeks ago. They broke windows in many houses and set

all cars they could find on fire... One of their targets was the

house of Hussein Bakir in Bir Zeit. His wife, Siham, was then at

home, and she recounts: `I was sitting at home with my one year

old baby, Basil, watching TV. I suddenly heard hard knocking at

the outer gate. I went out to the balcony and saw many cars in

front of the house. Several men threw stones. I was very scared

about Basil. I left through the back door and went to the

neighbors'... The settlers later returned assembling in front of

Bakir's house. `I was seeing from the second floor window in the

neighbor's house how my house was burning. I saw the smoke coming

forth from there. I started screaming'. Other members of the

family called the firemen, but the settlers halted the approach

of their engine and even punctured its water hoses... Bakir's

family points an accusing finger at the army, which stood aloof

throughout, doing nothing. Dr. Rashid Bakir, a surgeon at the

Ramallah government hospital, said that an officer standing near

the burning house had photographed the fire, without trying to

prevent the arson. The family saw him, later, but he denied

having been present at the scene". This was by no means the only

act of vandalism which the religious settlers committed in Bir

Zeit under the army's eyes. The elections to the Students Union

at the Bir Zeit University resulting in the first ever defeat of

a list supported by Yasser Arafat which took place shortly after

this spree of vandalism can be seen as its consequence. But to

the best of my knowledge, no Israeli (or Western) "expert" has

connected these two events. Yet in my view at least, the

connection is obvious.


The last story is by Nahum Barnea ("Yediot Ahronot", November

26) concerning Muhammad Lutfi Darwish al-Ra'ouf al-Zaru and his

pregnant wife Rima. Al-Zaru was driving his car on the way to his

sister. Due to the beating, Rima al-Zaru miscarried her twin yet

unborn children. Barnea stresses that {}al-Zaru had in his

youthtime worked for ten years in factories owned by Jews and

then learned to speak fluent Hebrew. Here is Barnea's story in

all its detail.


Al-Zaru, 33, now supports himself by driving Palestinian

workers to work in a rented Peugeot 504 car. On November 6, at

9:40 a.m., he was with his wife driving his car on a highway to

the east of Hebron. Their destination was the home of his sister.

The assault on him was thus described to Barnea in his own words:

"A group of religious settlers were walking on the road linking

Kiryat Arba with the neighboring settlement of Giv'at Ha'Harsina.

One of them, a large, bearded man wearing a prayer shawl,

signalled by hand the car to stop. `I shifted the gear and

stopped the car slowly. Without saying a word, he knocked me in

the eye. I saw red. I moved over to the other seat, but he kept

hitting me. I got infuriated. I said: "Damn you, what did I do to

you?" He put the barrel of his M-16 [gun] against my chest and

cocked it. My wife grabbed the barrel so as to shift it aside.

"What did he do to you?" she shouted at him in Arabic. He twisted

her arm, with the effect of pulling her abdomen forward, toward

the back of the seat, and then he abruptly pushed her back. She

screamed and cried. When I saw my wife getting hit, I said to

myself that my life didn't matter. If I die, so be it. I opened

the door of the car in order to grab him. But other settlers came

to his help and started beating me. My wife said that they were

three or four, one of them a woman, but I saw no one else but

him. They felled me onto the ground. To protect myself, I curled

myself up. They kicked me, stirring me over. I touched my eye and

found it was bleeding. I wanted to grab a stone. But, aiming his

gun at my head, he said: "get up". Then he said: "get into your

car and get lost". I drove some distance down the highway,

towards Jerusalem. I noticed an army jeep. I signalled to them

with my lights. They stopped, coming out of the jeep with their

guns drawn. They relaxed only when they saw my face gory. I asked

them to "drive with me to catch the settlers". "We can't", they

answered, "we are on an assignement. Drive the other way, toward

the roadblock. They will help you"'.


`On Saturdays the army sets up roadblocks between Kiryat Arba

and Hebron, to protect the religious settlers on their way to

pray in the Patriarchs' Cave. I drove there to tell the soldiers

everything. "Never mind", a soldier said. "Go to the hospital for

treatment, and then come back and wait with us until the settlers

return from the prayers. We will catch the fellow, don't worry".

I parted with my wife, leaving her with her father. I received

first aid and returned to the roadblock. The soldier made a

phonecall and a jeep arrived from the Civil Administration. "I

will take care of it" said the man from the Civil Administration.

I told him: "everyone keeps telling me, don't worry, I want to do

something, but no one is doing anything". He laughed. "If you

wait for the soldiers to do something", he said, "then you can

forget it". He turned on a communication set. "I spoke to the

military governor himself", he said. "He instructed me to make

you stay here until the settler returns. You will identify him,

and we will take care of him".


`At 12:30 the settlers returned. I approached a soldier and

said: "There he is". "Sit where you are and say nothing", the

soldier answered. He went over to him and said: "Give me your

name, you beat up this man". The settler just kept going, as if

he didn't hear a word. When the soldier asked his name for the

second time, the settler said: "Who are you to demand that I

identify myself?" And he kept walking on, without stopping...

The roadblock officer came over. The soldiers told him what

happened. I was told by the officer to "get into the jeep". We

pursued the settler up to the entrance to Kiryat Arba. I pointed

him out. The officer told him: "Give me your particulars". "Are

you crazy?", yelled the settler. "Do you bring an Arab to arrest

me, a Jew, on the ground of what he says? We refuse to answer any

questions until you hand the Arab over to us. We need him". "The

Arab is in my custody", answered the officer. And he went over to

his driver telling him in a soft voice: "Take the Arab at once

back to the roadblock". He told the settlers: "Move 20 meters

away, then I will hand him over to you". When the settlers did

so, the soldiers ignited the car and just fled. I remained at the

roadblock. Ten minutes later some military vehicles arrived. I

asked the soldiers what happened. "Can't you see?" a soldier

said, "a real war is going on over you"'".


Let me add that in another inicident on Saturday, December 4, a

Border Guard who happened to be a Druze called upon a religious

settler of Hebron to identify himself. The latter answered: "a

Jew who identifies himself to a Gentile on Sabbath, desecrates

Sabbath and commits a religious sin". The Border Guard didn't

insist. The incident was reported by the Police minister, Shahal,

at the next day's government meeting. Some junior ministers

denounced that religious settler as a "racist" ("Haaretz" and

other Hebrew papers, December 5). Rabin and the two senior

ministers, Peres and Shohat (Finance), however, refrained from

making any comment. And the government didn't issue any

instructions to the effect that settlers refusing to identify

themselves, on Sabbath or at any other time, were to be detained,

charged and brought to the court.


Two days after the assault on al-Zaru and his wife she had to

be hospitalized for the sake of aborting the fetuses from her

uterus. "At the time my wife was in the hospital", recounts

Al-Zaru, "I kept going every morning to the police station in

order to file a complaint. But the policemen refused to let me

in. I went to a Civil Administration officer whose name was

Tomer. `We are very sorry,' Tomer said, `but we can do nothing to

help you'. Then a policeman, investigating another case, came to

the hospital. I told him my story. He took me to the police

station. There was an officer there by the name of Golan. I said:

`I will take your name down.' `No need', he said, `if you forget,

just recall the Golani brigade, and you will recollect it'. He

tried to sound funny. `Why do you worry?' he asked. `Make a new

baby. You Arabs are fast at it'. But he refused to accept my

complaint, and he also refused to go to the hospital and take a

statement from my wife. `Let her come to the police', he said. He

hugged me as if I were his friend, and then he pushed me out of

the police station". And that was the end of the affair. Barnea's

efforts to press the army to investigate the case were also

fruitless. He contacted the religious settlers of Hebron to find

out whether any of them recall the incident and got an

interesting response from "Baruch Marzel, a "Kach" leader", who

told him that "he remembered that Saturday because after the

Arabs threw stones at the Jews, the latter retaliated by damaging

30 Arab cars. But", added Marzel, "none of us would remember a

case of an Arab whom a Jew merely punched, because this happens

every day".


The incidents described here, including the one reported by the

entire Hebrew press, cannot be considered isolated instances.

They clearly follow a recurrent pattern. Day after day

Palestinians are being beaten up or humiliated otherwise, or

their property is vanadalized. Such incidents happen wherever

religious settlers show up, and they recently do show up all over

the West Bank, even if only in few Gaza Strip spots. Since mid-

September the conditions of everyday life of the Palestinians

vividly resemble the conditions the Jews lived under in viciously

anti-Semitic countries, or the American Blacks during the heyday

of the Ku-Klux-Klan in the South. The only difference is that the

world media don't pay to Jewish religious settlers even that

amount of attention they would pay to much milder manifestations

of anti-Semitism. Although Kiryat Arba is the largest religious

settlement in the Territories, similar offenses are being

committed, even if at somewhat lower a scale, wherever the

religious settlers are present. The Hebrew press speaks about it,

even if not always as informatively as the columnists quoted

above. Since the signing of the Agreement between Israel and the

PLO, the number of Palestinians beaten up or humiliated by the

religious settlers, quite often under the eyes of Israeli

soldiers who were unable or refused to intervene, must already be

very large. As for the "experts" dealing with the current

situation of the Palestinians and their responses, most of them

have studiously ignored their oppression by the religious

settlers in their "expertises".


The Israeli government is certainly well-informed about the

atrocities which it condones and supports. By that I don't even

mean the financial and the strategic expressions of that

encouragement which were discussed in Report 129. What I mean is

the behavior of the army which remains supportive of the

religious settlers even in rare instances when orders are given

to detain some of them so as to impress the media. To

substantiate this point, let me quote an earlier article by Amit

Gurevitz ("Ha'olam Ha'ze", November 3) which vividly describes a

typically tolerant behavior of the army towards the religious

settlers. Gurevitz defines it as "let them do as they please"

attitude, which is manifest even in cases of token "detention" of

some settlers. The particular incident described by Gurevitz

occurred near Ramallah. The religious settlers laid siege to a

house of a Palestinian family named Hasunni. For over one hour,

"they pelted stones and heavy cement blocks at the house, under

the very eyes of a unit of soldiers and of the commander of

Israeli Police for the Judea District, Moshe Mizrahi, who in the

process told this correspondent that `any stone throwing is a

crime and thereby a sufficient reason to detain any settler

committing it'. In fact, only three besiegers were detained. They

were ordered to get into a police car and at once let out through

the car's other door. The three were `detained' only after they

were observed to proceed from stone throwing to arson. Others

were at the same time told that they had an opportunity `to

relieve their feelings' which they did wholeheartedly. Upon

entering the house, I found the entire Hasunni family lying on

the floor of their upper storey, in absolute darkness, while from

the outside the settlers applauded and whistled in joy whenever

glass was broken or a stone did not miss its mark. During all

that time, dozens of Israeli army soldiers, policemen and Border

Guards were walking around, mixing with the crowds of religious

settlers. Nothing could escape their attention. A commander of

the battalion of soldiers on the scene, and an officer in the

rank of a colonel were present, serenely listening to two

teenagers bickering over who was better at stone throwing. When

the teenagers realized I was a journalist, they showed me their

ID cards, proudly requesting to have their names published. Here

they are: Yaron Ben-Yitzhak and Shimon Re'uveni".


A minority of religious settlers belonging to various splinters

of Kahane ("Kach") movement are in a class in itself. They are

supposed to be more extremist than the remaining religious

settlers. In my judgement, however, the difference lies in their

being more brazen in professing their real views rather than in

their deeds. All the bickering between the splinters

notwithstanding, for the purpose of assaulting the Palestinians

most of "Kach" progeny in the Territories are organizationally

united in the so-called Committee for Safety on Highways, an

organization which began its career already in January 1988. The

Committee and its leaders have been openly admitting their

involvement in assaults on the Arabs and their property for

almost six years already, during which the Israeli government has

done nothing to stop them. The last time they did it in an

interview granted "by a veteran member of the Committee, who

requested to remain anonymous", in which "he spoke about the

Committee's character and activities" to "Haaretz" correspondent

Nadav Shraga'i (November 23). Of concern to this report, however,

is the fact that this Committee takes full advantage of the rules

restricting the options the Israeli army is left with in dealing

with the Jews, as Gurevitz described them (November 17).

Presumably as a quid pro quo for their tallying with the rules,

"the Committee members could have carried out hundreds of

actions, but the Israeli army, police, security forces [i.e. the

Shabak] and the judiciary have hardly ever responded". (The quote

is from Shraga'i.)


The openness with which the Committee professes its aims and

acts accordingly is truly remarkable. Says the "veteran member":

"After Ayubi's murder we used our loudspeakers in the streets of

Kiryat Arba to call upon the Committee activists to assemble at

the southern gate. About 60 people came in about 15 cars. We

planned in advance. We divided ourselves into groups. Each group

was assigned an area. We were equipped with our personal weapons,

crowbars to fracture doors, iron rods, plenty of stones and many

gallons of gasoline". None of this could have been done except

under the very noses of the Israeli army. "Our method was simple,

and already proven effective. We drive with searchlights lit so

as to blind the Arab drivers approaching us. The driver gets

confused and slows down. This gives us two options: he either

gets into an accident, or waits until we pass him by. In the

latter case we throw a large stone at his windshield. The stone

may hit him or cause an accident. Last week we were helped by

dense fog over the Hebron area. The blinding lights and the

stones had quite potent an effect on the Arab drivers. At Beit

Kakhil junction alone we precipitated six accidents I know of.

One Arab vehicle crashed into a police car. In some accidents the

Arabs were wounded".


Shraga'i then asked: "Have firearms been used?" The veteran

answered: "As a rule they aren't. We use knives to puncture the

tires. Usually, we try to puncture two tires of each car so as to

make the reserve tire useless. The crowbars are used to break the

door locks. The Arabs recently learned to protect their water

heaters on the roofs from all sides by iron bars, but crowbars

are the answer to that. Stones are thrown at house and car

windows. In the summer we also set fire to every pile of hay we

see and spray insecticides on vineyards of the Halhoul area.

After the Ayubi murder we uprooted two dunums of Arab-owned

grapevines near the site of the murder and set fire to 15 Arab

cars. We arrived at an Arab building site near Hebron. We

vandalized it as much as we could. There was a huge crane there.

In the foreseeable future that crane won't work". Question: "What

happens to those who defy you?" The veteran's answer: "We

concentrate on damaging property. If there are locals who dare

defy us, they get beaten badly. This happened at the Hebron

market, where we follow a standard retaliatory procedure. The

procedure is to overturn as many market carts as possible.

Several Arab peddlars were cheeky enough to put resistance. They

got beaten exactly as they deserved".


Such atrocities are perpetrated not only in Hebron and the

adjoining area. The veteran informs that the Committeee "is

active not only in the Hebron area, but also in Ariel, Yitzhar,

Beit-El, Shilo and in [the Haredi town of] Immanuel. We have a

handful of members in almost every one of the 140 settlements [of

the West Bank]. 3 or 4 people are enough to carry out simple

unsophisticated operations. For that we don't need more people.

Such minimal manpower is always available to us". To all

appearances this is true. The veteran also provides the already

well-known information about the Committee's members such as

"Baruch Marzel, the first chairman of the Committee for Safety on

Highways who is now a member of the Kiryat Arba [Municipal]

Council, which proves something. And we also have our

representatives coordinating work in the Local Action Committee,

which is the Council's informal vigilante outfit for retaliations

against the terrorists". The same is in my view the case in all

religious settlements, but not in the secular ones, because all

major Israeli secular parties abhor "Kach", Likud even more than



An example of the Committee's performance which occurred far

away from Hebron was reported by "Haaretz" on November 21. The

mentioned Baruch Marzel together with another well-known "Kach"

militant, Noam Federman, were detained a day before for having

gone on rampage during the visit of the President of Israel Ezer

Weizman to Kiryat Arba. Weizman's intention was to encourage the

settlers, but Marzel and Federman nevertheless abused him

violently. When they were brought before the magistrate in

Western Jerusalem (as settlers they have the privilege of

standing trials in Israel), the police asked to remand them on

the ground that "they could not be found while being pursued

since November 4 for an offense they were suspected of committing

on that day". Let me parenthetically comment that at the time the

two "could not be found" they were engaged in public activities.

The police told the magistrate, Yehudit Tzur, that it suspects

Marzel and Federman of "arriving in a rented taxi in the Arab

village of Al-Hadar in the district of Bethlehem, in the company

of some armed settlers. Upon arriving there, they went to a local

grocery. One of them aimed his gun at the grocer, while others

burned the Palestinian flags on sale". Thereupon, the whole group

criss-crossed the village, burning all the flags that could be

found, and forcing the inhabitants to watch the fires under

threats of shooting and actually shooting into the air. According

to my sources, incidents of this type are quite common in many

West Bank villages, even if they don't occur in the Gaza Strip.

The assaulters are hardly ever apprehended and the Israeli army

dismisses the compaints of the villagers with contempt. In this

particular case, however, the assaulters were watched from a

nearby Israeli army look-out and telescopically photographed,

presumably by soldiers uninformed of what the army really wanted.

The photographs, which were clear enough to identify the

assaulters, were handed over to the police. The latter, which

then had Marzel and Federman under detention for insulting the

President, asked for their remand for 7 days more. The sequel of

the story is instructive. Marzel and Federman wanted to be freed

on bail in view of the "petty" nature of offenses they were

charged with. Marzel argued that "charging him with so petty

offenses proves that the police is biased against him". Accepting

such "arguments", Ms. Tzur freed the two on a minuscule bail, in

addition to instructing Marzel that he spends the next 4 days in

Jerusalem in some place where he could be located by the police.

Such kindness toward the "Kach" members and other religious

settlers is typical: if not of all Jewish judges of Jerusalem

then of a large majority of them. Their leniency is so well-known

that in the rare cases when the Israeli police or the Attorney

General Office really want to prosecute some "Kach" members from

the Territories, they assign them to magistrates and judges in

other Israeli cities, which is perfectly legal.


Here is another example of leniency of the judiciary toward

"Kach", from 1989. At that time, "Kach" warned Jewish shopkeepers

of Jerusalem of dire consequences if they continue to employ Arab

helpers or errand boys. On one occasion, a "Kach" member entered

a grocery which employed an Arab, brandishing his pistol in the

midst of the crowd of customers. He aimed his pistol at the Arab

employee, told him to lie on the floor and stomped on him. When

the grocer protested, the Kahanist slapped his face. One customer

was shocked enough to quietly leave the store in order to call

the police. When the Kahanist was brought before the District

Judge, Tzvi Tal (now a candidate for the Supreme Court), the

facts were not in dispute, since the testimonies of the grocer

and his customers squared. The only "argument" the defendant had,

was that "his behavior had been dictated by his zealous concern

for the Jewish honor". The learned judge (religious, by the way)

accepted this "argument", to the point of lauding the defendant

in his verdict as "a worthy son to Abraham our father". The judge

sentenced the thug to no more than a brief suspended prison term,

and ordered the police to return to him forthwith his impounded

weapon. The pronouncedly sympathetic attitude of most religious

(Orthodox, if to use an American term) Israeli Jews toward "Kach"

and religious settlers is unaffected by whatever they may do to

the Gentiles, and it certainly is a factor owing to which both

"Kach" and other religious settlers thrive.


But above all else, "Kach" owes its good fortune to cooperation

of Israeli authorities, in particular to purposeful inaction of

the army and the police. Shraga'i asked "the veteran" whether the

army "tries to confiscate your weapons?" The answer was

revelatory: "There were some activists, and some people from

[Kiryat Arba] who were not our activists, whose weapons were

almost confiscated. But whoever really wants to retain his gun,

he can" (my emphasis). It can be conjectured that the only

difference between "Kach" and religious settlers is that the

former say it aloud "that there are no `innocent Arabs'" whereas

the latter only think so. "Last week Baruch Marzel, still the

movement's leader, said that all Arabs are PLO supporters, and

therefore none of them can be innocent".


The most important conclusion warranted by evidence presented

in this report is analogous to that of Report 129. I argued there

that Rabin's (and Clinton's) real policy is to support the

settlements in order to guarantee continuing Israeli domination

over the Territories under the cover of pretended concessions to

the Palestinians. To pursue that policy, Rabin needs to bestow

particular favors upon religious settlers, because they alone are

willing to settle in places like Netzarim, and even Hebron for

that matter. For the same reason Rabin must condone violence of

religious settlers against the Palestinians. Ruling a population

which refuses to accord to its rulers any legitimacy requires a

continuous recourse to violence, however limited in its scope,

for the purpose of cowing the people and keeping them

intimidated. This is exactly what the religious settlers are

doing, and this is also the reason why the Israeli army does

nothing to restrain them although it could restrain them easily.

The religious settlers (including "Kach" as long as it sticks to

the rules of the game) should be regarded as a vital segment of

the Israeli Security System, on a par with the army, the Shabak

and the police which are inhibited by the constraints of acting

as official arms of the Israeli government. It is therefore

delusory to expect that any segment of that Security System may

take any meaningful action against another.


Another conclusion to be reached from this report is that in

social and political terms, systematic violence such as described

here, even if purposefully limited, is much more important than

the murders (even of children!) or tortures inflicted only on

relatively few Palestinians. On the contrary, the present report

shows that, with the exception of the "wanted", the Israeli

Security System is not interested in having too many Palestinians

murdered or even wounded. It is interested in having them

continually harassed, humiliated and therefore in having them

feel vulnerable, as the serfs of a feudal lord had felt in the

Middle Ages.


By saying that I don't try to minimize the significance of

murder and torture. For years on end, I was doing my best to

struggle against the murders of Palestinians committed by the

State of Israel, and I was one of the first Israelis to openly

protest after 1967 against torture of Palestinians. I merely say

that socially and politically matters most what has the strongest

impact upon everyday life of the greatest numbers of people,

which in this case means upon everybody, at least potentially.

Such an impact cannot avoid to affect and ultimately to shape

people's consciousness, even though in modern times not

necessarily to the oppressors' liking. In the case under this

report's discussion, mass violence of the described kind will in

my view contribute to stepping up Palestinian resistance,

regardless of what the fate of the Agreement between Israel and

the PLO may be.