Israel’s hawks can’t dodge blame for this day of violence

Jonathan Freedland, Executive Editor of The Guardian, considers the response of the Israeli politicians to the arson attack on a Palestinian house. He says:


“The condemnations are striking but still they ring hollow. Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the arson attack by Jewish settlers on the West Bank home of the Dawabsha family, in which Ali Saad, a baby just 18 months old, was burned to death, as an “act of terrorism in every respect”.


Netanyahu was joined by Naftali Bennett, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, which is close to being the political wing of the settlers’ movement. Bennett described the murder as a “horrendous act of terror”. The defence minister, the army, they all condemned this heinous crime.


Which is welcome, of course. It’s good that there were no ifs or buts, no attempts to excuse the inexcusable. But still it rings hollow.


The words sound empty partly because, while this act is extreme in its cruelty, it is not a freak event. Talk to the Israeli human right groups that monitor their country’s 48-year occupation of the West Bank and they are clear that the masked men who broke into the Dawabsha family home in the early hours and set it alight committed a crime exceptional only in its consequences.


“Violence by settlers against Palestinians is part of the daily routine of the occupation,” Hagai El-Ad, director of the B’tselem organisation, told me.


Indeed, El-Ad says this attack was the eighth time since 2012 that settlers have torched inhabited buildings. There have been dozens of assaults on property, too: mosques, agricultural land, businesses. “In most of these cases, they didn’t find the perpetrators, despite having the best intelligence agencies on the planet.” He is referring to the culture of impunity that has always protected the settlers.


That charge can be directed at past Israeli governments of the centre-left as well as the hawkish right: while the latter actively sponsored the settlement that followed the 1967 war, the former indulged it. But the right’s guilt runs deeper, which is why its tearful words of regret now sound so false.”


Click here for the full story – Friday 31st July 2015.

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