Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Operation Price Tag: Settlers Organize their Attacks

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Israeli settlers living in illegal West Bank outposts sometimes attack when soldiers come to evict them or take away their building supplies.

One such resident, Itai Zer, tells the New Zealand Herald that these are not uncoordinated attacks in response to isolated incidents. These attacks are all part of "Operation Price Tag," an effort designed to disorient both Palestinian villagers and IDF soldiers so that outpost evacuations must be postponed.
Recommended methods reportedly include arson and road-blocking to force troops to abandon the evacuation and deal with the protesters’ actions, as well as demonstratively entering Palestinian villages - a tactic used repeatedly in the village of Asira al Qibliya.
Due to these acts of what some would call protest and others would call terrorism, 50% of the olive trees in the village of Burin, adjacent to the Yitzhar settlement, have been burned recently, and with the olive harvest just around the corner, some residents wonder where their livelihood will come from.

Yitzhar settlers also poison and shoot livestock and cut telephone and power lines in their effort to keep the situation chaotic. Some of these protesters draw the line at attacking people, but say they wouldn't stop others if they chose to attack Palestinian villagers directly.

There are nearly 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, from all different walks of life. Some are hardcore Jewish ideologues who seek to secure the entire West Bank for Israel in the fulfillment of a biblical promise. Others simply moved there in search of cheaper housing.

Palestinians acting in reprisal of the settler attacks have suffered doubly. Throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there have been four times as many casualties on the Palestinian side with eight times as many children killed or injured. Recent events prove no different.
Two weeks ago, Yitzhar settlers went on a rampage in Assira al-Kubliyeh, following an arson and stabbing attack that injured a 9-year-old boy from the settlement. Dozens of stone-throwing settlers, some firing in the air, smashed windows of several homes and overturned a car in the village. Six villagers were hurt, including a 17-year-old girl shot in the right arm. Yesh Din said Israeli soldiers did little to prevent the riot.
Later that week, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot to death while throwing a firebomb at Yitzhar.

Unfortunately, by not protecting the Palestinians, the IDF leaves them no choice but to retaliate for the settler violence, a natural act which nevertheless only hurts them once again and reinforces the settlers' mission to expel them.


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