Middle East Eye / September 1, 2023
Avichai Shorshan spoke at an event hosted by former Labour MP Ian Austin in defence of the Israeli army.
An Jewish settler who sparked outrage after being filmed harassing a Palestinian child and his pregnant mother in the occupied West Bank spoke in the UK parliament in 2019 after being invited by a British peer.
In the video, Avichai Shorshan – a civilian security coordinator of the Gush Adumim settlement – can be seen detaining a Palestinian boy from the nearby town of Khan al-Ahmar.
When the boy tries to move, Shorshan – who is armed – stops him and yells at him: “Sit here and don’t move.”
Two women from Khan al-Ahmar, one of whom was filming the video, attempted to intervene and were arrested by Israeli forces.
According to Haaretz, Shorshan was recruited into the Israeli Border Police earlier in 2023 despite repeated complaints from locals of routine harassment of Palestinian farmers around the Khan al-Ahmar area.
A police source told Haaretz that due to the complaints against him, the head of the organization’s human resources department had taken the unusual step of participating in the committee that reviewed his recruitment. He was recruited first as a temporary police officer for a period of six months.
Despite the controversy surrounding Shorshan, in 2019 he was invited by Ian Austin, a crossbench peer in the British House of Lords, to speak at a parliamentary event focused on countering negative perceptions of the Israeli army.
At the event, hosted by My Truth – a pro-Israel organization of which Shorshan is director – Shorshan said it was important to combat the threat from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which he said was prominent in London.
“This event proves that the world is thirsty to hear the entire picture and the voice of the soldiers on the ground, and not just another invented scenario or a unilateral description provided by the terrorist organizations,” he said.
Austin, who chaired the event, was previously a Labour MP but resigned from the party in 2019 over what he said was a “culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance” in the party under then leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He subsequently advocated a vote for the Conservative Party in that year’s general election and was later handed a life peerage by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The residents of Khan al-Ahmar are mostly from the Jahalin tribe, a Bedouin family expelled from the Naqab desert – also referred to as the Negev – during the 1948 war to establish Israel in historic Palestine.
The village has been demolished and rebuilt several times in recent years and has endured repeated harassment from Israeli settlers.
In September 2018, Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, despite calls from European countries, human right organizations and activists for Israel to halt the process. However, the demolition has not yet been carried out.
Nearly 700,000 settlers live in more than 250 settlements and outposts across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.
Alex MacDonald is a reporter at Middle East Eye