‘Price tag’ attackers hit West Bank town of Yasouf for second time

With the active and passive support of the IDF, Shin Bet and police, the terrorists have already won by continuing their attacks with impunity.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

'Price tag' attackers hit West Bank town of Yasouf for second time
Graffiti in village of Yasouf, reading ‘Price tag; stone terror’, February 18, 2013 (Photo: Abed Al-Karim a-Saadi/B’Tselem)

Yesterday morning a “price tag” pogrom took place in the Palestinian village of Yasouf. If the name Yasouf is vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because in 2009 it became the target of the most famous price tag attack: the burning of its mosque. It’s worth mentioning the response of the Shomron local settler council at the time (Hebrew): it called the attack an “act of madmen or a provocation,” piously adding that it hoped the police would find those responsible. That was two years before Shahar Ginossar wrote in an investigative report for Yedioth Ahronot that the Shomron local council created the “price tag” policy, and even funded it. The “price tag” people are the military arm of the settlement establishment, the hoodlums who are used when violence and plausible deniability are necessary. “Price tag” attacks have become so common that they’re barely reported; they used to make headlines, but the attack in Yasouf yesterday was barely worthy of a newsflash.

The choice of Yasouf as a repeat target of “price tag” attacks becomes more understandable when you realize that the village is now fighting against the taking over of its lands by settlers, who are aided and abetted by the IDF in doing so. The village dares to fight for its rights, so it gets a small dose of terror as a reminder of the price for messing not only with the military arm of the government of Israel, but also with the military arm of the settler movement, which is far more ruthless.

In December 2010, the villagers petitioned the High Court of Justice, represented by attorneys Michael Sfard, Shlomi Zecharia, Avishar Lev and Muhammad Shqayer of Yesh Din’s legal team. The petition was against the army and the Civil Administration and demanded the villagers receive access to their lands. Since early 2001, the army has prevented the villagers from accessing thousands of dunams of its lands. Later, “Tapuach West,” an outpost illegal even according to the government of Israel, was established on some of those lands,. “Tapuach West” blocked the villagers’ access to their lands, as did the illegally paved road running between Tapuach – a settlement created by Kahane supporters – and its outpost, “Tapuach West.” Is the local council responsible both for the settlement and the outpost? After all, it’s the Shomron local council.

At first, the settlers prevented the villagers from reaching their lands with the usual violence. Then the army got involved and erected a gate that is never open, thus turning what was a lawless land grab into something semi-official. Later, the army declared much of the territory a closed military zone, thus officially preventing the villagers – not the invading settlers – from reaching what is, without any legal contest, their land from which they live.

Some two years after the petition was filed, in November 2012, the court first debated it – hey, it’s just some Palestinians robbed of their livelihood, what’s the rush? In the hearing, the justices were sharply critical of the behavior of the army and civil administration. Justice Naor said: “The balance here derives first of all from the starting point, that they are entitled to reach their lands. If there are lawbreakers, it is the duty of the military commander to deal with them. His job is to ensure their access, and if there are lawbreakers he must deal with them. If anyone uses violence the state must confront them. It is the state’s job to maintain order.”

So, until the government enforces order, which it is loath to do when Jews are involved, the terrorists residing in the Shomron local council will try to make it clear to the petitioners that they’re messing with the wrong people. Luckily, the petitioners refuse to bend. In addition to law enforcement officials’ poor record in defending the Palestinians in the occupied territories from the theft of their lands and violence against them – which, again, is basically all the army is allowed to do there, legally – we can add their pathetic inability to capture the “price tag” pogromchiks. Their proven record of inaptitude has already led the local residents to tell us they are unwilling to press charges, since the way their complaints are dealt with is a bad joke and the process is a waste of their time.

In that regard, the terrorists have already won, with the quiet support – both by action and inaction – of the IDF, the Shin Bet and police.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.