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Would Israel arrest a Jewish terrorist with only Arab victims?

Avi Issacharoff | Ha’aretz

2 November 2009

It’s reasonable to assume that if Yaakov (Jack) Teitel had focused only on attacking Palestinians, he would have encountered few problems with law-enforcement authorities. His big mistake, it seems, was targeting non-Arabs as well.

Experience – and statistics – show that Israeli law enforcement is remarkably lax when it comes to tackling violence against Palestinians. Twelve years ago, Teitel confessed to killing two Arabs and then took a break from such activity. Sure, he was detained for questioning after the murder of shepherd Issa Mahamra, but he was released due to insufficient evidence. As with many other cases of murder and violence committed against Palestinians, the story of the shepherd from Yatta and the taxi driver from East Jerusalem disappeared into oblivion – until Teitel returned and attempted to harm Jews, bringing the wrath of public opinion, the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police down on his head.

The (justifiably) prevailing feeling among Palestinians in the West Bank is that their blood is of no consequence. It’s hard to find a Palestinian today who will make an effort to approach the Israeli police about a settler assault, unless Israeli human-rights groups help him. The way Palestinians in the territories see it, Israeli law is enforced only if Jews are harmed, while incidents in which Palestinians are murdered, beaten or otherwise wounded are treated cursorily at best – and more often, are ignored entirely.

For instance, at least six shooting attacks against Palestinians in 2001-2002 have remained unsolved. The most shocking incident took place in July 2001, when three members of the Tamaizi family were shot to death by a man in a skullcap, according to relatives. The gunman asked the driver of the vehicle to stop, as it drove from one end of the village of Idna to the other, after a family wedding. When it stopped, he opened fire. But it’s doubtful that Israelis remember that 3-month-old Dai Marwan Tamaizi, born after his parents underwent 14 years of fertility treatments, was killed that day – as were Mohammed Salameh Tamaizi, 27, an only child, and Mohammed Hilmi al-Tamaizi, 24, who was engaged to be married.

One relative recalled last night that to this day, the Israeli authorities have not bothered to update the family on the outcome of their investigation.

Investigations by Palestinian-rights advocacy group Yesh Din has found that 90 percent of police investigations of cases in which Israelis are suspected of committing offenses against Palestinians in the West Bank are left unsolved and are closed. In a 2006 case, four settlers were suspected of beating an elderly Palestinian man with a rifle, leaving him unconscious for three weeks – but police didn’t check the alibis of two of the suspects, and a third wasn’t even questioned.

There are many more such incidents that indicate that the impression of Palestinians in the West Bank is rooted in reality. Maybe it’s Arab terrorists simply interest the law-enforcement authorities more than Jewish terrorists.