Jewish settlers vow revenge, attack Palestinians after shooting

Jewish settlers and Palestinian protesters clashing in the West Bank Village of Asira al-Qibliya (Majdi Mohammed - AP)

Maureen Clare Murphy

The Electronic Intifada  /  December 18, 2021

Rampaging Jewish settlers terrorized Qaryut, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, in the early hours of Friday after an Israeli man was shot and killed Thursday night.

The slain Israeli, Yehuda Dimentman, was a student at a religious school at Homesh, a settlement outpost, and resided in Shavei Shomron, also in the northern West Bank.

“​​Homesh is a settlement that was meant to have been abandoned as part of a 2005 eviction but is now the site of the illegally operated yeshiva [religious school],” according to The Times of Israel.”

Dimentman and two others were driving away from Homesh when they came under fire from the roadside. The two persons traveling with Dimentman were injured by broken glass, according to media reports.

Israel had launched a manhunt in the northern West Bank that was ongoing on Saturday.

Before dawn on Friday, some two dozen Israeli settlers raided Qaryut village near Nablus and broke into a home and assaulted one of its residents.

The assaulted resident, 55-year-old Wael Muhammad Maqbal, suffered fractured ribs and a photo of him that circulated on social media showed severe swelling in his face:

Maqbal’s 46-year-old wife, Samiha, was hospitalized after inhaling pepper spray, according to media reports. She said that one of the assailants was in military uniform, the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.

Photos and videos posted on social media show that the Maqbals’ home was thoroughly ransacked, and their car windows smashed:

The assault was partly recorded by security cameras:

Settler impunity

Israeli authorities claimed to have launched an investigation into the attack on the Maqbal home. But as the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem states in a recent report on Israeli settler violence, “indictments are hardly ever filed against settlers who harm Palestinians.”

Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group, states that more than 90 percent of investigations into settler attacks between 2005 and 2019 were closed by Israel with no charges filed.

Many attacks go unreported to the Israeli authorities because Palestinians have little reason to believe that they will be meaningfully investigated and they fear reprisal should they file a report.

Only two people have been indicted – both minors – after settlers besieged Mufaqara village in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills in September and fractured the skull of a toddler, according to Haaretz.

B’Tselem points to settler violence as a feature of official Israeli policy that serves to force Palestinians off of their land, which is then expropriated by the state.

“The settlers are not defying the state; they are doing its bidding,” according to B’Tselem.

This year has witnessed the highest recorded levels and most severe incidents of settler violence against Palestinians and their property in recent years, independent UN experts stated last month.

The UN monitoring group OCHA recorded 410 such attacks in the first 10 months of 2021.

Israeli settlers have killed several Palestinians this year.

All settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, which forbids an occupying power such as Israel from transferring its civilian population to the territory it occupies.

“The deep state support provided by Israel to the illegal settlement enterprise, including to the more than 140 settlement outposts established throughout the West Bank in defiance of even Israel’s own laws, has fueled this coercive environment and encouraged violence,” the UN experts added.

Bennett’s blessing

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s prime minister, has implicitly endorsed settler violence against Palestinians.

On Tuesday, he said that settler violence was “insignificant phenomena” and called for strengthening and supporting settlers “in words and actions.”

The UN experts observed last month that “the prevailing political message from the occupying power is that this land belongs to only one people.”

That message was understood clearly by the mourners at Yehuda Dimentman’s funeral on Friday.

“Homesh will say loudly and clearly that this place is fully ours,” the head of the religious school in the outpost stated.

Bezalel Smotrich, an Israeli lawmaker and head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, said that God “sent Yehuda to us to instruct us to return to Homesh, to build the yeshiva, to strengthen Torah at Homesh.”

“We will be here and remain here,” Dimentman’s brother said during his eulogy. “May God avenge his blood.”

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada