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Reaping the Whirwind on West Bank

Prime Minister Netanyahu Decides On Emergency Measures To Curb Violence By Settler Fanatics In Judea & Samaria

Teenage - Age Rioters Trying To Prevent Government From Complying With Supreme Court Ruling To Dismantle Illegal Settlements

IsraCast Assessment: Country Is Waiting To See If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Measures Will Prevent Further Attacks Against IDF Soldiers and Innocent Palestinians

Havat-Gilad Settlement (Photo: Michael Yakobson)

 It remains to be seen if the young settler extremists in Judea & Samaria (West Bank) have overdone it this time. On the night of December 12th, they went on the rampage injuring a senior IDF officer, vandalizing an IDF base and also destroying Palestinian vehicles in two villages. The writing had long been on the wall but the fact is the government and its instruments of law and order, including the IDF and the Israel Police as well as the legal system, did not act to curtail it. Israel is now reaping the whirlwind of her complacency to the young fanatical settlers known as 'Price Tag'.

Pime Ministe decides to enfoe emegency measues...

At long last, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu now appears ready to take off the gloves and confront the settler extremists, who are a law unto themselves in Judea & Samaria. Their violence on the night of Dec.12th sent shock waves through the entire country and its political and military establishment. Even settler leaders on the West Bank suddenly realized that the unbridled violence of the 'Hilltop Youth' was proving to be a clear and present danger to the settlement movement in Judea & Samaria. Obviously worried about negative public opinion, they condemned the attacks on IDF soldiers and against innocent Palestinians. After urgent consultations with legal and security officials, the Prime Minister decided to enact a series of emergency measures. These include warrants for administrative detention without trial, prosecution in military courts and IDF soldiers are now empowered to arrest settlers, a power enforced only by the Israel Police until now.

Binyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amit Shabi)

More investigators will be assigned to the West Bank in an effort to catch the Jewish culprits. Some of the 'Price Tag' suspects will also be barred from entering the territories. However Netanyahu balked at branding the extremists as a 'terror organization'. His office issued a statement saying it was important to stress the radicals were a small core that did not represent the broader settler community, which was loyal to the state and its laws and had condemned the law breakers.

Prosecute with full rigor of the law...

In an urgent motion to the Kneset agenda, Likud Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor put the issue of the young exremists into persepective. In effect, it was a critique of the government's failure to rein in the 'Price Tag' extremists who retaliated against Palestinians for any Israeli measures they view as detrimental to Israeli settlement in Judea & Samaria. Meridor, who holds the intelligence services portfolio, is obviously updated on Shabak investigations into 'Price Tag' and this was his assessment to the Knesset: 'These latest unlawful and violent acts were not the first crossing of the red line that should never be crossed. It started with the strange name of 'Price Tag'. There were those Israelis who felt it "was solely against Palestinians". It continued against mosques and again it was said "It's not against us". Then it went on to the paint-spraying of threats on the homes of Israelis (Leftists) and again it was "It's only against part of the political spectrum".

Now it has struck a real blow even against our own IDF soldiers. They have raised their hand against the Israeli army and Israel Police in a challenge to the state. The law is not just a matter for the jurists - it is the bastion that preserves the state and whoever raises his hand against the state must face the full rigor of the law. He must be arrested because the fire he ignites not only singes the outer limits of the camp but can also burn down the whole thing'.

It's a pity some of the IDF soldiers did not open fire...

Labor Knesset Member Ben Eliezer, a former defense minister, expressed the outrage of many Israelis when he called for drastic measures against Israeli terrorists who attacked IDF soldiers. In his opinion: 'A bunch of hoodlums took a brick and tried to smash in an officer's head - they could have killed him! It's a pity no one was arrested on the spot, it's a pity that some of the soldiers did not open fire and did not react as they should have.' At the site of ther attack, soldiers in th vicinity, possibly conditioned by previous experience, were apparently at a loss about what to do and this was also the case at the IDF base that was vandalized. Ben Eliezer castagated what he viewed as a tolerant attitude to Right- wing rioters; it was terror pure and simple. He had personally witnessed it in the past by recalling the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin by Right-winger, Yigal Amir, in 1995.

The 'Price Tag' or 'Hilltop Youth' are the tip of the spearhead opposed to the dismantling of any Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria. But Israel's Supreme Court has the final say about whether small civilian 'outposts', unauthorized by the government, have been built on private Arab land. Obviously, the government is obligated to comply with the judicial rulings and this is what most settlers, and not just the extremists, accept. The fire-storm now raging around the most recent assaults on the IDF are but an indicator of a far, far greater number of Israelis who are adamantly opposed to any repetition of the evacuation from the Katif settlement bloc in Gaza back in 2005 by Ariel Sharon. Not that the Netanyahu would ever consider a wide scale pullout from settlements in Judea & Samaria.

David Essing

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