Shooting for the wrong objective
A special report by Haaretz this morning confirmed what many feared was already a reality: the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are arming settlers and training them to shoot Palestinians. According to the newspaper, tear gas and stun grenades are being distributed amongst local citizens in the event that a ‘Third Intifada’ or Arab Spring take place following the upcoming vote by the UN General Assembly set to favour Palestinian statehood.
As Elena Casas (@elenaf24) explains below, in ‘Operation Summer Seeds’ a red line has been drawn around each West Bank settlement and soldiers will get the order to shoot any Palestinian protestors crossing it.
This agoraphobia on the part of West Bank settlers coupled with a particular brand of religious zealousness is the one that for so long has entitled them to act unscrupulously. According to the human rights organisation B’Tselem, there have been 42 cases reported of settler violence against Palestinians currently open for investigation.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, told The Telegraph Thursday that much of the violence happens on the IDF’s watch. “The close relationship between the IDF and the illegal settlement project in the West Bank is confirmed by the many reports we see of the most violent settlers forcing Palestinians of their ancestral land under the noses of the IDF, sometimes with their protection if not connivance”, he explained.
And whilst Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has historically pandered to the most extreme and nationalist factions of the settler and religious Zionist movement by continuing the construction of settlements despite warnings from the U.S.
Even in the video below, Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Ehud Barak tells France 24’s Annette Young (@annettef24) of his hopes for the peace process, but continues to deliver the decades old message.
This move, however, may be one of the most ridiculous yet.
Once again, Israel fails to consider the inherent risk in playing war games given volatility of its borders and the ad hominem violence spewing in the Gaza Strip.
More importantly, short of delirium on the part of Netanyahu, arming civilians doesn’t protect the state, it reveals the point to which its institutions and government are vulnerable. If nothing else, the protests earlier this August demonstrated just how fractured the country is. Simply put, Netanyahu is out of touch with everyday Israelis.
Perhaps his government believes with its sanctimonious discourse that were it to demonstrate they are willing to do what it takes to ensure the security of Israel this would score them more kudos in the next opinion poll.
However, truly ensuring the security of borders is not about building walls, manning barricades or civilian guard posts. It is about protecting them from the inside out by developing policy solutions to the Conflict guaranteeing a real shot at legitimate statehood for both Israelis and Palestinians as opposed to just shooting one another.