Murders in Itamar Settlement: Murder, Pogrom and Self Righteousness
The Israeli army, security forces, settlers and politicians believe that the 11 March murders of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement were done by Palestinians. Outside of Israel’s military courts, there is no evidential foundation for such a belief.
It is possible that there will never be evidence demonstrating who murdered the Fogel family; immediately upon learning of the murders, settlers and soldiers entered the home to check for terrorists. Only afterwards did officers from the police forensic science department enter the home to collect evidence from a now contaminated crime scene.
From the outset the working assumption of all Israeli authorities was that the murders were conducted by Palestinians; in the Israeli public arena, there exists no other possible scenario for murders in a settlement. Now, we just need to find the Palestinian on which it is possible to pin this case.
Israeli security forces and the settlers did not wait until the Palestinian or group of Palestinians was found on whom it is possible to pin the Fogel murders. The guilt is collective guilt and punishment is collective punishment: while settlers were conducting pogroms on the roads of the West Bank and in Palestinian villages, the Israeli military decided on its own pogrom in the village of Awarta, near the Itamar settlement.
According to three activists from the International Solidarity Movement who succeeded in entering Awarta before Israel’s Saturday imposition of a curfew on the village, Israeli soldiers are exhibiting violent behavior there.
Soldiers were seen conducting searches in which they entered homes more than once and gave the impression of random, confused actions. The three activists testified that they observed soldiers detaining and beating residents who left their homes and that during patrols through the village, soldiers shoot in the air and throw stun grenades in order to terrify the residents.
The international activists add that during some of the searches, the soldiers lost control and caused extensive damage. Amongst other things pictures were shattered, furniture upturned, electric cables cut and oil and mud were poured into water tanks on the roofs. The activists further noted that telephone cards and cash were confiscated from residents in one home.
Qais Awad, a member of the village’s legislative council, also reports acts of vandalism by Israeli soldiers in Awarta. Whilst searching the village’s municipal building, soldiers took some NIS 1,800 from an office drawer, together with an unknown amount from the municipality’s safe.
The wave of pogroms being committed by settlers, who enjoy complete immunity, is dubbed “price tag”. The settlers attack Palestinian cars on the roads, damage Palestinian property in villages and in case the Palestinians defend themselves, the army then intervenes and shoots tear gas and rubber coated bullets at them.
This occurred, for example, in the village of Beit Ommar, which was attacked by settlers from the Gush Etzion settlements of Bat Ain and Karmi Tsur.
Without a doubt Palestinians will be found and tried in an Israeli military court for the murders of the Fogel family. There is no need for the prosecution to present evidence which it doesn’t and couldn’t have in order to attain a conviction in this court.
The path to conviction will begin with collaborators, who will mention this or that person as the one who committed the murder. This and that person will be detained and interrogated in the General Security Services (GSS) interrogation facilities, where they will undergo physical and mental torture by GSS officers and even by collaborators in their cell. Sooner or later they will confess and go to military court, which will convict them solely on the basis of their confessions, with no need for the prosecution to present additional evidence. When attorneys of the accused will request clarifications concerning the physical evidence found at the murder scene, the manner in which the confessions were obtained and the way in which these Palestinians were implicated, the military prosecution will have one response: “the material is confidential for reasons of state security”. Finally the military court with its three judges will convict the suspects and send them to serve five consecutive life sentences.
It is possible that in light of the circumstances and the financial costs involved in conducting the trial, the security forces will prefer simply to eliminate the suspects. A band of soldiers will be sent to the field to execute them and if nothing goes wrong, the soldiers will receive commendations for avenging the murders of the Fogel family.
During the coming five years, involvement in the murders of the Fogel family will be attributed to every Palestinian “eliminated” by Israeli death squads.
In parallel, the official state of Israel and settlers are waving the murders of the Fogel family in order to launder illegal construction in the West Bank while the Israeli prime minister and government officials are using the murders to again situate Israel as the victim in the international arena.
At the opening of the Likud party meeting on Monday 14 March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu related how he demanded from the international community to condemn the killings and clarified that “from some of the countries came condemnation while others either didn’t condemn or their condemnations were cold, technical, even ‘balanced’.”
However, what is of the utmost importance in public relations is timing. As the Fogel family was murdered immediately after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which then began developing into a potential nuclear disaster, this ‘waving’ failed. The spokespersons of Israel found themselves preaching to the choir and making due with a sense of self-righteousness that knows no limits.
Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).