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Settler violence rages in Nablus area

by Jonas Weber

29 February 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Yesterday, violence erupted close to Joseph’s Tomb when settlers gathered near the site. Youths from Balata refuge camp came out to chase the settlers off but where kept at a distance by the soldiers that accompanied the illegal settlers as usual. This is the second time this month that violence occurred due to settlers visiting Joseph’s Tomb.

In the nearby village of Burin, dozens of settlers from the illegal settlement Yitzhar attacked the house of Umm Ayman Sufan by throwing rocks and bottles. The olive trees surrounding Sufan’s home on the southern edge of the village were also cut down.

Meanwhile, another attack on Burin from the illegal settlement of Bracha was reported by the Palestinian Authorities.

“Recently we have noticed that young settlers are hanging out with soldiers at the checkpoints, and we know that they receive training in handling fire arms from the age of 15 under the cloak of self defense,” says Ghassan Daghlas. “Why do they need to learn about fire arms for self defense when they have an entire occupational army protecting them?”

Yitzhar is considered to be home to some of the most militant Zionist settlers of the West Bank, and Palestinians from nearby villages claim that settlers from Yitzhar coordinate attacks against Palestinian villagers with other settlements. The illegal settlement Yeshiva has been suspected by the Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet to be teaching racist and violent ideologies to their students.

The Yeshiva leaders Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira have many times been at the center of controversies surrounding their statements about non Jewish people. Shapiras organization Od Yosef Hai, which includes various grades of educational institutions and publishing, up until recently received extensive funding from the Israeli Education Ministry. In November 2011 both Ginzburg’s and Shapira’s institutions were closed down by the Education Ministry due to information about the participation of students and teachers in attacks on Palestinians and Israeli military forces.

Since these institutions were closed the settler violence from Yitzhar has increased according to Ghassan Daghlas. After all, Yitzhar was the settlement to first take the so called “price tag” tactic into practice. The price tag tactic means to target Palestinian civilians or property in order to get revenge for actions from the Israeli military or government to curb settlement activity, perceived as unjust by the illegal settlers.

Generally the settler attacks increase during the summer when the weather is warmer according to Ghassan Douglas. They also change character with the weather

“In the summer everything is dry and they tend to burn crops and trees, when it’s colder and damper they move on to burn mosques and cars,” he says.

Jonas Weber is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).