There has been plenty of condemnation of the abominable murders of Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad, and Hadas Fogel in the settlement of Itamar last night. But the condemnation has been dominated by ugly opportunism from Israel’s pro-settlement right, and has been used as a pretext for menacing Palestinians and urging more settlement activity in defiance.
In 972 mag Dmitry Reider does the necessary, which is liable to earn him more opprobrium than approval from some of his comrades.
“To those among us citing the illegality and illegitimacy of the settler enterprise: The community of Itamar is in and of itself a violation of international law. It was established to deepen Israeli hold on an the occupied territory; and over the years, the settlers of Itamar became almost equally well known for their violent attacks on Palestinian farmers as for the attacks that they themselves sustained – the community of 1,000 lost 15 of its members to attacks like last night’s over the past ten years. Needless to say, the occupation of the West Bank, the establishment of the settlement, and the individual settlers attack against their Palestinian neighbors are all illegal under international law; the latter are not only particularly brutish and wrong, but are also illegal under Israeli law.
But none of this justifies retaliatory violation of the very same laws, just like being robbed does not justify walking into the robber’s house and butchering him and his entire family. More generally, international law clearly allows armed resistance by occupied population to the armed forces of the occupier, but just as clearly bans targeting the occupier’s civilian population. The power of the law, certainly of international law, is in its totality and universality. We cannot call for selective application of the law against one party, and completely ignore the same law being broken by another; our legal argument loses any and all merit if we do that.”
“The sheer viciousness of this cold-blooded butchery should have provoked furious condemnation from those unequivocally opposed to the targeting of civilians – Israel’s civil society,the Left and the activist (“radical”) Left. However, at the time of writing, only two organizations spoke out: B’tselem, which has done the most extensive work of documenting the opposite sort of violence – by settlers against Palestinians – led the way late Saturday morning, announcing on Facebook and on its website that it is “appalled by the attack in Itamar and strongly condemns it. Intentional killing of civilians is a war crime and is unjustifiable. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities must work to locate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack.” About an hour later, Physicians for Human Rights joined in, announcing that the organization “strongly condemns the appalling attack in Itamar and calls the state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to act in order to bring those responsible individuals to trial. Once again we learn that fences and security systems are not a guarantee for security. Only brave steps towards peace agreement and putting end to the conflict will bring end to these murderous acts.”
Apart from these two voices, and a quite a few individual activists expressing shock and dismay at the killings, much of Israel’s famously vibrant, undoubtedly committed activist Left remained silent.”
They have since been joined by Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah, New Family, the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall, J-Street, Peace Now, Human Rights Watch and Rabbis for Human Rights.