Israel Refuses to Prosecute Settler as Attacks Continue in Beit Ommar Area

8 January 2013

Two days ago, on January 6th, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Jerusalem District Attorney had decided not to move forward with the prosecution of an Israeli settler who threw a firebomb into a Palestinian taxi north of Beit Ommar last August, which severely wounded 6 occupants, including children. They decided to close the case even though DNA evidence was found on a glove at the crime scene. It is yet one more example of the Israeli government’s unwillingness to prosecute settlers for their crimes, leading these right-wing settlers to attack and vandalize Palestinian property with increasing frequency.

On January 1, 2013, two elderly residents of Beit Ommar woke to find their car burned and Hebrew graffiti written on the walls of their home. These impoverished farmers live on the northern side of Beit Ommar. Settlers approached their house in the middle of the night, spending several minutes vandalizing the home and setting the truck ablaze. They left the scene without being apprehended, though a major Israeli military base and prison was less than 2 kilometers away. Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene ten minutes later, aware that settlers had been there, but unwilling to prevent them from engaging in the attack.

In areas controlled by the Israeli military in the West Bank (Areas B and C, which include all of Beit Ommar and the surrounding areas) it is the responsibility of the Israeli military to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli violence. However, PSP and many other human rights groups have documented countless times where settlers have acted with military escort or at the very least, without interference. Prosecutions of settlers for violence against Palestinians only occur in less than 10% of reported cases, and actual convictions are extremely rare. When the Israeli government fails to prosecute even when there is DNA evidence of the perpetrator, they are sending the unequivocal message that settlers will be allowed to attack Palestinian civilians at will.