On Saturday, 19.5.2012, around four thirty in the afternoon, a large group of settlers descended on the eastern outskirts of the village ‘Asira al-Qibliya, from the settlement Yitzhar. B’Tselem volunteer photographers filmed the events from two angles. The video shows the settlers, some of whom were masked and armed, throwing stones at Palestinian homes, and fires beginning to burn. One of the masked settlers was armed with a “Tavor” rifle which is only used by infantry soldiers, raising the suspicion that he is a soldier on leave.
Palestinian youths from the village soon arrived and threw stones at the settlers. A few minutes later, soldiers and Border Police officers arrived at the scene. During these moments, the video records the sound of several rounds of live ammunition being fired, but does not show its source.
Around 5pm, a group of three settlers are seen standing with a soldier in front of the Palestinian youths, while all around there is mutual stone throwing. Two of the settlers seen were armed with M4 rifles, and one was armed with a pistol. One of the settlers is wearing what looks like a police cap. The video footage shows the settlers aiming their weapons at the Palestinians and firing.
The firing injured village resident, Fathi ‘Asayira, 24, in the head. He is seen being evacuated from the area by a group of youths. He is hospitalized in a stable condition in Rafidiya hospital in Nablus. About five other Palestinians were injured by stones.
The video footage raises grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians. The soldiers did not try to remove the settlers and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing.
Much is made in the mainstream of Palestinian “terrorists” and supposedly rampant anti-Semitism. But as speaker of the Israeli Knesset Reuven Rivlin said last November regarding the so-called price-tag attacks by Israeli settlers, “this is Jewish terrorism that should be called nothing less.”
And on the racism charge, I’m reminded of something I read in Gershom Gorenberg’s book The Unmaking of Israel. Gorenberg, an Israeli, recounts a story from 2009 when he was driving through the West Bank and picked up two orthodox Jews hitchhiking for a ride back to their illegal outpost. They talked to Gorenberg about why they didn’t want to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. One of the young men said the army “doesn’t want to kill Arabs because it wants to look nice in the world,” something he derided. Another said of the Gaza war, Operation Cast Lead, that he was:
“outraged” by the army’s concern for noncombatants. In the command post, ‘there was an officer from our army who was in touch with the Arabs in Gaza and was concerned about their rights,” he recounted, with utter disbelief. “He’d say not to shell a neighborhood because they were evacuating the wounded. And we’d let the ambulances evacuate them – tell me, is this a war? They’re crazy!…In the last five, ten years, the army has turned into a welfare office for Palestinians.”
We’re not supposed to hear about this side of things in the U.S. The narrative has held strong that the Israelis are victims surrounded by scary, anti-Semitic, terrorist-sympathizing Arabs.