Israeli Rule of Law for Palestinians Under Occupation

What Palestinians living under occupation face on a daily basis is often overlooked. There is this entirely false conception popular among Joe Smoes as well as policy wonks that the conflict consists of two equal sides and an elusive solution. Elliot Abrams, senior fellow at the revolving door institute the Council on Foreign Relations, for example, consistently emphasizes the plight of Israelis living under threat and then in the same breath makes ridiculous statements about how current settlement construction is not a critical issue, and has been minimal.

Haaretz gave us an important illustration of the reality of the situation, which is that Palestinians living under occupation are systematically mistreated and stripped of their rights. The article explains the effects of the Dromi Law, “named for the farmer Shai Dromi who in January 2007 shot to death Khaled el-Atrash,” a Palestinian who broke into his farm at night. Dromi was acquitted of the manslaughter charges basically on grounds of self-defense. The Dromi law states that “a person will not bear criminal responsibility for an act that was required immediately in order to curb someone who breaks in, or tries to break in, in order to commit a crime.”

But the law apparently only applies to situations in which Palestinians break in to Israeli property, not the other way around.

There is a judge in Israel. He is Colonel-Lieutenant Netanel Benishu, who is deputy president of the military appeals court in the occupied West Bank. He heard the case of three members of the Bedouin Ka’abneh family, who were arrested on July 19th of this year after Israelis attacked their tent encampment on the lands of the village of Mukhmas east of Ramallah.

No, we did not get this wrong. First the Israelis broke into the encampment and then some of its residents began throwing stones at them. And a clarification – the Bedouins did not use a gun. They also did not kill anyone.

The indictment states that one of the stones they threw hit a policeman in the chest and that an Israeli by the name of Harel Zand from the unauthorized outpost of Mitzpeh Danny was hurt in the leg.

…[An Israeli policeman’s] overt or covert presence did not prevent other settlers from arriving there and, according to his testimony, from shouting and starting to kick cans of milk. Then he also noticed the stone-throwers. He apparently did not see what happened then, according to the tent dwellers account to Haaretz. The Israelis began stoning them (one little girl was injured), threw a baby (wrapped in its blankets) out of a cradle and began overturning sacks of flour and rice.

The three Palestinians charged are all in custody, at least until the appeals are through. So on the one hand, an intruder is shot to death; nobody is sent to jail. On the other hand, stones are thrown back at abusive intruders harassing innocent people, and those Palestinians are jailed. Rule of law means that all are equal before the law. That’s why Lady Justice has a blindfold on. This is just one among innumerable examples in which the Israeli government renounces that pillar of just societies.