Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Israeli settlers attack Israeli military base

On Tuesday, a group of Jewish settlers launched an attack on an Army base. The attack was spurred by a rumor that a few Israeli military outposts would be closed in the West Bank. The assault included damage to vehicles, setting fires, and throwing rocks. This type of attack is not new; over the last few years, groups of Israeli settlers have preformed similar acts. The movement has been labeled “price tag”. The attacks are reactions to policies from the government that they do not agree with. They have channeled their anger against both Palestinian citizens and Israeli army forces. The movement has led to personal injury to citizens and troops as well as extensive property damage.

Resent attacks have also included an increase of violence against Palestinian citizens in the West Bank and destruction of their homes. Additionally, only hours before the attack on the Israeli security force base, there was a violent protest on the border with Jordan. The protesters opposed the Jordanian government’s attempt to work with Israel to stop the closure of a certain bridge which allowed non-Muslims on pilgrimage to reach the holy sites of Jerusalem. The protesters went through an area which had been closed by the military, occupied a structure close to a sacred Christian holy site, and had to be forcibly removed by Israeli troops.

Leaders in the West Bank have stressed their extreme disapproval of these groups. They worry that these attacks are threatening the future of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The situation has caused a rift between the Israeli military forces and Israeli settlers. This rift is increasing with each attack. Support of the military is crucial, particularly because they are there to protect the Israeli settlers. The fact that announcements of dismantling some military outposts has caused for attacks on Israeli military bases only further incentivizes the removal of Israeli security forces.

Meanwhile, these instances are even more important because talks began in Israel on Tuesday with the “quartet” representatives (the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and the European Union). The meetings are about reinvigorating negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The attacks by Israeli settlers not only alienate them from the government, but also increase focus on the plight of Palestinians living in the West Bank. Israeli officials referred to these groups as extremist criminals who were engaging in “homegrown terror”. Government officials stressed that they would be dealt with severely. Furthermore, the international media has been showing more attention to reports by aid workers in the West Bank. Historically, Palestinians have been portrayed by many as the perpetrators of violence in Israel and the occupied territories. The attacks by settlers have caused for intensifying reports of Palestinian citizens as victims of violence. If this trend continues it could lead to added support for the Palestinian cause and increased pressure on Israel to move forward on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

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