Israel Disarms the Palestinians While Arming the Settlers
Palestinians living in the West Bank under Israeli occupation are not allowed to defend themselves against Jewish violence. If they do, they can be arrested, tried, jailed, and fined heavily – or even put to death. The West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to defend their lives, their land, or their property from attacks by Jews. Self-defense against Jews in the West Bank is a crime that could get you arrested, tried, jailed, fined heavily, or even killed. This is not a matter of interpretation, but a summary of the twisted reality behind the killing of Palestinian Qosei Mi’tan in the West Bank village of Burqa last Friday and the ridiculous arrest of Amar Asliyyeh and his three children, who were hurt when they tried to stop the invaders from getting into their village.
Palestinians aren’t allowed to defend themselves with weapons, stones, or sticks, and they can’t rush to help others either. All of this is seen as a kind of “sabotage” or, at best, a disturbance of the peace. This is true whether the attackers are soldiers or police in uniform or just Jews dressed in civilian clothes. The broad ban is written into military law, the practise of the Israel Defence Forces, prosecutors, and the courts in an environment of Jewish supremacy, as well as the Oslo Accords. It’s a complicated matrix where each piece is connected to the others and holds the others in place.
The army and the Shin Bet have good reason to be concerned. To understand that this outrageous reality is similar to a container of cluster bombs that any arrogant settler with curly sidelocks, a kippa, and a rifle could blow up, you don’t need information from collaborators or sophisticated eavesdropping equipment. However, a reality that they created and uphold places restrictions on the Shin Bet and the army, including the military prosecutor and the military court. This matrix explains how and why attacks—which are supposed to be religious events attended by people who fear God—are occurring more frequently among Jews.
Let’s start with the rule of the military. International law says that it must protect the well-being and safety of the protected civilian population in the occupied area. The IDF is not following the law because the project Israel is working on to steal land, which it is protecting, goes against the well-being and safety of the civilian population. The army isn’t protecting them from violent Jewish civilians because its main job in the West Bank is to protect Israeli citizens. Or, more specifically, the Jews among them, especially those who are working on the project to get rid of people, which is what the settlements do.
Even if not all of the commanders and soldiers agreed with the settlement project and its rules from the start, the need to protect the Jewish settler alone has become a part of them over time. Soldiers have been trained for generations to think that not protecting Palestinians is a value, an axiom, and an order. And because of that, we see over and over again soldiers standing by during pogroms or even helping Jewish rioters attack Palestinians and force them off their land. So, the fact that they are Jewish doesn’t help the Palestinians when left-wing activists join them. By declaring areas “closed military zones,” the soldiers attack and get rid of them.
Significantly, Order 101 from August 1967 has restricted public demonstrations, gatherings, and picketing. This order requires military commander approval for such activities, prohibiting unauthorised events. The main goal of this order is to stop incitement and hostile propaganda and maintain peace. This ban is meant to maintain order and prevent disruptions from unregulated demonstrations. Order 101 requires strict permits for marches, gatherings, and picketing. This new regulation protects public gatherings from misuse and ensures their legality and safety. By requiring permits, the military commander oversees and approves public demonstrations. This measure evaluates the proposed event, including incitement and hostile propaganda. This allows authorities to better control public gatherings and ensure peace and stability. Order 101 is a major government move. Palestinians have reportedly admitted that soldiers violently oppose their efforts to protect shepherds and farmers. Even 20 or 100 people are reportedly dispersed using tear gas, physical assault, and, shockingly, live ammunition.
Last Friday, just before the start of the Sabbath, religious Jews went to Burqa’s land to graze their herd. For some reason, the army wasn’t there. That was strange, because the army parks a car near the Ramat Migron outpost almost every day, both day and night. But even if soldiers had been there, they would have gotten rid of “the illegal gathering” of Burqa residents right away, not the settlers who were coming in. This has happened and still happens in every Palestinian village whose land or springs are taken over by settlers or whose groves are vandalised by settlers.
It has been happening, for example, in the village of Qaryut, north of Ramallah, in the last few months. Every Friday, a group of Israelis from the nearby settlements (Eli, Shiloh, and their outposts) come to the village’s central spring to bathe as a way to take it over. They have already done this with the springs of three other villages in the area. The army is nearby (and even gets there before the settlers do) to stop the Palestinian people who live there from getting rid of the settlers, who include small children.
Then, at night, the army raids the homes of any villagers who try to stop the trespassers. They are arrested, put on trial in front of Jewish military judges, and sentenced to several months in jail and large fines. This is meant to make the villagers give up in despair and stop trying to get the trespassers off their land. The Palestinians are not allowed to own or use weapons by military law. According to Security Order No. 1651 from 2009, you can go to prison for life if you carry, own, or make weapons without a permit from the military commander or someone acting on his behalf, or if you don’t follow the rules on the permit certificate.
The license division of the National Security Ministry gives Israeli settlers permission to carry weapons, even though they are only subject to Israeli law when it suits them. Israel gives members of the Palestinian security forces permission to carry weapons, but only in the parts of the West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority called “Area A.” They are also allowed to carry them for short periods of time in Area B, which is controlled by both the Palestinian government and the Israeli military. The Oslo Accords stop them from acting outside of these small areas. And even in the Jewish-only areas of Areas A and B, they are not allowed to act as law enforcement when Jews attack Palestinians. Palestinian police can’t even show their weapons to stop Jewish rioters from hurting their own people; they can’t even use them. (They would be arrested as terrorists if they did.) They can’t even arrest Jewish people who are rioting in the Palestinian enclaves, let alone outside of them.
The Palestinian Authority can’t bring Jewish rioters to a Palestinian court for breaking the law and causing damage. Article 13 of the interim Oslo agreement says, “The Palestinian police will be in charge of keeping the peace only when Palestinians are involved.” The PA, which is led by Mahmoud Abbas, is still very strict about this clause and hasn’t changed its methods or tactics to fit the new situation. Article 15 of the Oslo Agreement, called “Prevention of Hostile Acts,” says that both sides will do everything they can to stop terrorism, crime, and acts of hostility against each other, against people under the other side’s control, and against their property. Criminals will be punished by the law. This sentence has a lot of false symmetry because the PA is not a sovereign state and, like its people, is under Israeli military occupation, which has shown over and over again that it has no intention of stopping settler violence. Because the PA can’t protect its people from violent Jews, it has to act against its own people.
The PA police, security, and civilian and military intelligence arms, which arrest Palestinians for speaking out against the Palestinian leadership and which Israel wants to start up again in Nablus and Jenin, are not at all present in the dozens of villages and communities in Areas B and C, where Israeli settlers terrorise their own people every day. This week, the surrounding outposts made it so that Al Qabun, a Palestinian community of shepherds with 12 families and 86 people, had to move out of the Jordan Valley. This is the fourth community in the area that has had to move to Area B in the past few months because of harassment by settlers, building and movement bans by Israel’s Civil Administration, and the lack of any force to protect them.
Many Palestinians who work in the PA security forces must be bothered and hurt by this clear contradiction and the unfairness it shows. They should definitely bother their leaders and the most important people in the Fatah movement and the PA. It is not clear how long they will be able to keep the growing anger of the people under control or what it will cost them personally and politically.