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Press coverage of Hebron settler violence

YNet: Police official: Hebron incident reflects reality

(VIDEO) Senior official in West Bank Police responds to video clip revealed in Ynet showing settler cursing Palestinian family. Settler summoned for police investigation, but doesn’t show. B’Tselem, of all groups, asks not to turn her into scapegoat

by Efrat Weiss, January 11th

VIDEO – A senior official in the West Bank Police said Thursday to Ynet, “The event in which a woman settler is seen cursing a Palestinian family in Hebron reflects the reality in the city, and is being taken care of.”

The senior official added, however, that “there has been a recent decline in the number of incidents between Palestinian and Jewish residents in the city.”

Defense Minister Amir Peretz responded to the settler harassment of Arabs in Hebron during a strategic assessment in his office. According to him, these images are “disgraceful and are turning into material for incitement against Israel all over the world.”

A video clip was published in Ynet Tuesday showing Ifat Elkobi, a West Bank resident in Hebron, cursing her Palestinian neighbor. She was slated to report to the police station in Hebron for investigation Thursday, but didn’t show up.

A senior police officer told Ynet: “Our attention has been turned to this issue. After we saw the material, suspicions arose that the woman has committed criminal offenses related to threats, trespassing, and assault. Thus, the police have opened an investigation.”

According to him, the investigators watched the video clip and decided to summon the suspect for an investigation Thursday morning, but she didn’t show.

“If she doesn’t show up by this evening, we will send her another summons to be investigated. Examining the video through professional eyes shows that there are children there who are under the age of legal responsibility, and legal measure can’t be taken against them. Unfortunately, we see time and again a cynical use of children for carrying out crimes because they are minors.”

Despite recent publications that drew outraged reactions, the official actually indicated that there has been a decline in violent incidents in Hebron.

According to him, “We have noticed a moderate decline in violence in the city. There is still no small amount of events in which Jewish residents attack Palestinian residents and international left-wing activists, but there has been a decline.

“In our estimation, this derives from an array of factors. First and foremost, this is linked to our increased enforcement, and indictments, which create deterrence for the residents. In addition, it is related to police attempts to create dialogue with the Jewish settlement, and a decrease in the number of terror attacks, which subsequently results in less acts of vengeance,” said the official.

The official added that the in addition to the aforementioned reasons, the decline in violent incidents is affected by media coverage, which has brought settlers to understand that these types of events damage their image.

B’Tselem: Don’t turn settler into scapegoat

The human rights group B’Tselem, which published the video Wednesday, said in a statement that Elkobi must not be turned into a scapegoat with regards to the failure to enforce the law on settlers in the territories.

“As serious as the incident may be, it is just the tip of the iceberg of the daily violence Hebron settlers subject their Palestinian neighbors to on a daily basis, under the army’s auspices.”

“The attacks in Hebron are carried out before the eyes of the soldiers, who are not instructed to stop them, and who are sometimes even ordered to avoid from protecting the victims. The Israel police have also refrained from providing an appropriate response to the settlers’ violence,” the statement read.

B’Tselem claimed that hundreds of complaints regarding violent incidents involving settlers have been filed with the police throughout the years, and criticized the defense minister and the defense establishment for failing to address the issue before its publication in the media.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also claimed that it had notified the security forces regarding settlers’ violence in the past, but that nothing had been done in the matter.

In June, the association sent a letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz stating that, “As a result of Israel’s policy and the idleness of the security forces in the matter of settler violence, the Palestinian population in Hebron has been doomed to a life of humiliation and oppression, and economic and social destruction.”

Haaretz: Police investigate Hebron settler filmed attacking Arabs

by Nir Hasson, January 11th

The Hebron police opened an investigation Thursday into Jewish Quarter resident Yifat Alkobi’s assault of her Arab Neighbors. Alkobi was documented on video cursing and attacking the Abu-Aisha family in the city.

Alkobi is well known to Hebron police for her alleged attack of a 10-year-old Palestinian child in March 2005, for which she is to be tried on February 1.

The boy, Yusuf Aza, told investigators from the human rights organization Yesh Din that he was walking the path between his home and Alkobi’s with two friends, when she began pelting him with stones. Aza, whose two friends fled the scene, said, “I tried to run away but I couldn’t because she blocked the way.”

Aza added that Alkobi “grabbed me by the shirt and pushed me up against the wall. A soldier named Ofer tried to help, but she pushed him away, and he fell down. She held me with one hand and with the other pushed a rock into my mouth and forced my mouth closed. I felt my teeth breaking.” Aza said the soldier got up and called for help on his radio.

Yesh Din has protested the fact that, nearly two years after the attack, Alkobi is not under arrest.

The spokesperson for the Hebron settlers, Orit Struk, responded that the latest incident and others should be seen as “part of the whole picture and the harassment of Jews by Arabs in the city.”