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Israeli Settlers Riot Under Security Protection

6 June 2001

Press release

Partners in Crime

Israeli Settlers Riot Under Security Force Protection

This morning, dozens of Israeli settlers entered two villages in the Nablus district of the West Bank, both of which are under complete Israeli security control. An investigation conducted by B'Tselem reveals that settlers entered the villages of Luban a-Sharqiya and A-Sawiya, the latter under curfew, and burned agricultural fields, a hothouse, a carpentry and a school. In addition, the settlers shot at residents of Luban. They also broke windows of houses in a-Sawiya while the residents were trapped in their homes under curfew. Israeli security forces present during the entire incident, prevented Palestinians from defending themselves, prevented fire fighters and ambulances from entering the villages, and even took part in the violence themselves.

Israel as the occupying power is responsible for the safety and welfare of Palestinians, and must protect them from settlers. She security forces bear full responsibility for today's violence, as a result of the following actions and omissions: Lack of preparedness, while complete ignoring what was likely to occur;

* Standing idly by while settlers rioted against Palestinians in broad daylight for several hours;

* Enforcing the curfew in a-Sawiya against Palestinians only, which prevented Palestinians from defending themselves and their property;

* Preventing the entrance of firefighters and ambulances in spite of the fires lit by settlers;

* Active participation of security forces in acts of violence against Palestinians.

It is patently obvious that if the situation were reversed, and Palestinians had rioted in the settlement of Shilo, burned a carpentry, broke windows and took over the roof of a house, the incident would have ended in an entirely different manner.

Settler violence against Palestinians of the Occupied Territories is a wide-spread and on-going phenomenon. Since the beginning of the first intifada in 1987, 119 Palestinians have been killed by settlers and other Israelis. Of those killed, twenty-three were minors. In many other incidents, settlers wounded Palestinians, damaged their property, and committed various acts of vandalism.

Two months ago, B'Tselem published a report addressing the law-enforcement failures of Israeli authorities regarding settler violence. In 1994, B'Tselem published a comprehensive report on the subject. The conclusions of the two reports, published seven years apart, are identical: Israel's law enforcement policies regarding settler violence is characterized by tolerance and turning a blind eye.

* In many cases, Israeli security forces are present during acts of settler violence against Palestinians and do nothing to prevent the violence.

* In many cases, in violation of the law, the Police refuse to open investigations into acts of settler violence unless the victim files a complaint. Investigations that are opened are not pursued seriously. As a result, some two-thirds of investigations are closed.

Israeli officials have leveled stinging criticism against the Police and the military for their law enforcement failures. Critics have included the 1982 Karp Commission, the Shamgar Commission established following the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Attorney General Eliyakim Rubenstein.

Unfortunately, these repeated criticisms have fallen on deaf ears. The authorities continue to turn a blind eye to settlers' acts of violence, to view them as justifiable "letting off steam," and to praise their ostensible restraint in the face of violence against them. Israeli authorities are thereby complicitous in the on-going violence and vandalism.

For additional details and to receive B'Tselem's initial investigation: Lior Yavne, Press Officer, 050-387-230, Pager 03-610-6666 (31146) lyavne@btselem.org

NB: corrected site address: Information about the Friday worldwide action on http://www.geocities.com/womancoalition/ and not as written in earlier messages of Gush Shalom or The Coalition of Women for Peace and Justice.

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