Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Eyes for an Eye: The IDF Allegedly Smashes and Plunders the Arab Village of Awarta

Since the murders of the members of the Fogel family in Itamar, the lives of the people of the neighboring village of Awarta have become hell.

I am reproducing Noam Sheizaf's report in order to give it wider circulation. According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples; settlers have built and outpost on the village's land, which is now guarded by the Israeli army.

If even half of these reports are true, they constitute collective punishment, which is a war crime, in addition to the war crimes of which the IDF soldiers stand accused in the report below, including looting and wanton destruction of property. As for the criminals who call themselves settlers – I never understood why the proper response to acts of terror was settler terrorism, including grabbing property that doesn't belong to you and making life miserable for innocents.

Some of my readers still believe in what is known as a two-state solution. Should a Palestinian state arise, one of its first acts will be to demand reparations from Israel for actions like these.

And don't tell me that the IDF is not intentionally targeting civilians – under an "investigation" which would never be legal on the West side of the Green Line.

Here is how Noam ends his report:

There have been at least four murder cases of Palestinians from the region by settlers from Itamar in recent years. In the last case, the perpetrator was released on bail and didn't show up for trial. In the one before, the settler who shot a 24 year-old Palestinian farmer in front of witnesses was never tracked down. Itamar wasn't placed under curfew, nor were dozen of men rounded up by the police (in criminal cases the settlers are under jurisdiction of civilian authorities, not the army).

This is the occupation's rule of law. One law for Jews, another for Palestinians.

The army has taken control over the village of Awarta, which lies near the settlement of Itamar, where 5 members of the Fogel family were murdered. According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples; settlers have built an outpost on the village's land, which is now guarded by the Israeli army

Ever since the terrible murder of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar, the nearby village of Awarta is going through what is officially a murder investigation, but looks more like a form of collective punishment—some would say organized revenge — led by the IDF and Israel's Internal Security Service (Shin Beit).

The events have been going on since March 12, when thousands of soldiers entered the village and began house-to-house searches, accompanied by dogs and Shin Bet interrogators.

Hundreds of Awarta's 6,000 residents were arrested and questioned. According to locals, the soldiers have taken over four houses in the village and turned them into an improvised interrogation facility. Several of the Palestinians said they were beaten by the soldiers and by their interrogators.

According to reports, all the village's men between the ages of 15 and 40 were forced to give fingerprints and DNA samples.

15 families have reported of damage to their homes. In several cases, Palestinians claimed that large sums of money – between 500 and 5,000 shekels – disappeared from their houses after the soldiers left. In other cases, doors were broken and furniture damaged during the searches.

Settlers have passed through the village, thrown stones on homes and broken car windows and mirrors. Settlers from nearby Itamar have also taken over private agricultural land owned by the village's farmers and established on it a new outpost, consisting of four mobile homes and guarded by the army. Instead of evacuating the outpost, the army is guarding it.

On Thursday, Palestinian news agency Maan reported that another 100 of the village's women had been arrested and interrogated.

Awarta has been under curfew from the previous Saturday until Wednesday, and human right activists have not been allowed entrance into the village. Once the curfew was lifted, activists from the Israeli NGO "Checkpoint-Watch" managed to get to Awarta and report some of the events in the village.

The Israeli media hardly reported the events in Awarta, and the only articles that discussed the curfew and the mass arrests were a translated report of a New York Times story by Isabel Kershner, and a few comments by Akiva Eldar, both published by Haaretz a while ago.

At the time of writing, dozens of the village's people are still under arrest. Their exact number is unknown.

I have contacted the IDF spokesperson unit this morning (Sunday) with a series of questions regarding the mass arrests, forced DNA sampling, searches and other activities against the people of Awarta. Late afternoon, I received the following reply:

Since the Itamar murder investigation is still under way, theses issues are still being checked [which "issues"?]. IDF soldiers are present at the outpost due to the high tension in the region.

——————–

Advocacy groups for Israel and government spokesmen often claim that even under the military occupation, the West Bank is governed by the rule of law. Some people say that Palestinians are not confronted by Israeli soldiers and that they are free to "run their own business" under the governing of the Palestinian Authority.

As events in Awarta prove, this is no more than propaganda. When it matters to Israel, IDF soldiers do whatever they want, wherever they want. Palestinians have no basic legal rights. No Miranda, no Habeas Corpus. When the army decides, it can detain thousands of people and invade hundreds of homes, like it is doing in Awarta right now. No warrant is needed, no specific suspicion against someone is necessary (so far, there hasn't been one public charge against a resident of Awarta). If Palestinians are beaten, or if their property is destroyed or looted, there is nobody they can turn to.

There have been at least four murder cases of Palestinians from the region by settlers from Itamar in recent years. In the last case, the perpetrator was released on bail and didn't show up for trial. In the one before, the settler who shot a 24 year-old Palestinian farmer in front of witnesses was never tracked down. Itamar wasn't placed under curfew, nor were dozen of men rounded up by the police (in criminal cases the settlers are under jurisdiction of civilian authorities, not the army).

This is the occupation's rule of law. One law for Jews, another for Palestinians.

5 comments:

pabelmont said...

Will this (sort of) report make the American Jewish community the least bit, well, queasy, about its support for Israel (or for the occupation or for the settlers)?

Or will it lead them (like South Africa's Jewish community) to become champions of illegality, to circle the wagons?

If the latter, one might well ask, what their wagons were doing in the West Bank, anyway.

Michael Davis said...

This is so damning it will have to be kept far away from the New York Times.
Your title is apt. This is the kind of immoral use of power that the Hebrew Bible was trying to correct with the humane "an eye for an eye."
Israel is the face of 21st century colonialism.
Any colonial force has to enforce the superior rights of the colonists and keep the natives' heads down.
If the British were still ruling the Raj, this is exactly what they would do. Israel has fulfilled the Zionist dream of being the same as all (colonial) nations.

bacci40 said...

pabelmont

as the report comes from a blog that is filled with anti israel screeds, provides no significant evidence of alleged war crimes (ism testimony is worthless and the maan news agency is a joke)

your answer is no

but i guess you knew that...your whole point in being is to demonize israel and the general jewish community...as is jerry's.

btw jerry...collecting fingerprints and dna samples is not a war crime

and why you give any credence to a news agency that floated the blatant lie that tai workers (none of which work in itamar...they dont have foreign workers)were being investigated...is beyond the pale

showing a broken door, allegedly broken by idf soldiers is not proof of beatings

David Kessler Author said...

"According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples;"

I just love that phrase "according to reports" - it enables one to incriminate without evidence.

Beatings (when proven) are clearly deserving of condemnation. But since when is taking DNA from many disproportionate to the murder of the few. Certainly the pure numbers are disproportionate - but is taking a DNA sample (even from a thousand people) comparable to the murder of even one?

And the other allegations - looting, creating an outpost, curfew - do these really measure up to those gruesome murders?

The whole tone of this piece speaks volumes for the ethical values of its author.

David Kessler Author said...

One other thing:

"the perpetrator was released on bail..."

If I described a Palestinian who had not been found guilty as a "perpetrator" rather than a "suspect" or "the accused" you would rightly take me to task for jumping the gun on the presumption of innocence.

Again, I agree that in a murder case bail should not be granted except in the rarest and most exceptional of circumstances, but to call the accused the "perpetrator" is a warning sign as to the writer's attitude and agenda.