Rampaging settlers use fake gun to sow panic among Palestinian commuters

Two Israeli settlers use a fake gun to threaten a bus full of Palestinian workers. The police make a quick arrest, yet the media totally ignores the story.

Two acts of political violence committed by Jewish residents of the West Bank against Palestinians went almost completely unreported by the Israeli Hebrew media last week, even as the police responded with remarkable alacrity.

According to Israeli police, last Wednesday two residents of Efrat, a settlement near Jerusalem, began circling a Palestinian vehicle on their motorcycles on a road near the settlement. One of the settlers then forced the vehicle to the side of the road at gunpoint and pulled the driver out.

A few minutes later the settlers stopped a bus carrying Palestinian workers on the same road. According to the police, the settlers threatened the passengers and removed them one by one at gunpoint. After all the Palestinian passengers were standing on the side of the road, one of the settlers put his gun to the head of one of the workers, allegedly telling him to “pray for your life.” The settlers then fled the scene.

Earlier this week one of the Palestinians filed a complaint with Hebron police, who promptly arrested two suspects from Efrat. The two admitted to the crime during their interrogation and handed over the gun, which turned out to be made out of plastic.

The police’s quick response to the incident is praiseworthy. According to Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, the majority of complaints filed by Palestinians with the police in the West Bank are closed, many of them because of “perpetrator unknown.” Other times Israeli forces stand idly by as settlers commit violent attacks against Palestinians, usually with the aim of forcing them off their land. Just last night, a former IDF soldier recalled to Channel 2’s Ohad Hemo how during her army service, she witnessed firsthand how soldiers backed settler vigilantism — whether tacitly or explicitly.

Unlike the police, the Hebrew-language media ignored the story entirely. Try imagining a situation in which a group of armed Palestinians overruns a bus full of Israeli settlers and threatens to shoot them in the head. My guess is that the story would find its way to the top headline for the vast majority of Israeli media outlets, would likely refer to the Palestinians as terrorists, and would provide up to the minute coverage of the developing story.

The quick action of the Israeli police is a welcome development. Yet one has to wonder why the story was not reported.

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