When Settlers Attack vs. When Settlers Are Attacked
This afternoon news began to break about the killing of 4 Israeli settlers near the Palestinian town of Hebron. Surely, the killing of any unarmed civilians, whether their presence in a particular area is legal or not, is condemnable and many have been swift to condemn today’s act of violence and put it into perspective as an attempt to derail peace talks (as if these talks needed any help to fail).
Within minutes many major news outlets began reporting about this event. Here is Isabel Kershner’s coverage in the NYT:
Four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, were killed when their car was fired on in the West Bank on Tuesday evening, in the deadliest attack on Israelis in more than two years.
The killings appeared to be an effort by Palestinian militants to upset peace talks due to start in Washington on Thursday. Hamas claimed responsibility for the shootings, the Associated Press reported.
In July, Israeli security officials said they had arrested several members of the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic group, who were responsible for the fatal shooting of an Israeli police officer south of Hebron in June.
In March 2008, a Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem killed eight students, mostly teenagers, at a religious seminary in the city.
As I am in the midst of analyzing data on settler violence it struck me how much this coverage chose to ignore about the dynamics of violence around settlements in the West Bank when it mentioned only Palestinian acts of violence going back to 2008 but didn’t waste a word on mentioning settler violence. Settler violence, often perpetrated with the knowledge, or assistance of the IDF, is just as likely to jeopardize the ‘peace process’ yet we rarely hear of it.
A quick query of the data, covering over 1000+ events, tells us the NYT story skipped over a lot, including over 260 acts of settler violence in the Hebron governorate alone since 2009. These include 56 instances of assault, 53 instances of stone throwing, 28 attacks on houses and attempted house seizures, 11 acts of arson and many more.
These acts of settler violence, again, in this one part of the West Bank in only the last 20 months has left 1 dead and 93 injured among Palestinians as well as incalculable amounts of property damage (the totals for the entire West Bank are much higher). Attacks perpetrated against Palestinians over this time period in the Hebron governorate were launched from the settlements of Adorah, Bat Ayin, Bat Hadassah, Hagai, Harsi, Karmei Tzur, Karmiel, Kfar Etzion, Kiryat Arba, Maon, Mount Joher, Negohot, Shani, Shima and Sosia.
This is the kind of information that Kershner forgot to mention, but it is also the kind of information that will be discussed in great detail, looking at all parts of the West Bank and trends over time, at our upcoming Palestine Center briefing on settler violence. If you can’t make to it DC, you can watch the live streaming webcast of the event at our website. Maybe Kershner can follow the live stream from Jerusalem and give settler violence the attention it deserves.