‘Tip of the spear’: Israel razes ‘illegal’ Palestinian homes amid West Bank settlement expansion
“We are the tip of the spear” and the “shield” that protects Israel, a spokesman for the settlers of Yitzhar in West Bank, Ezri Tubi, told the Washington Post. While he admitted that some of the Israeli settlers are radical, Tubi denied that any of them supported the shocking arson attack on a Palestinian village which killed a Palestinian toddler and his father, and seriously injured the rest of their family.
Even the most hardcore Israeli settlers would not go beyond “puncturing [the] tires” of the Palestinian vehicles or other small acts of vandalism, Tubi insisted. Speaking to Washington Post reporters, he complained that the international community has been wrongfully demonizing Israeli settlers and condemning them for the “Jewish extremism” which they have had nothing to do with, and that Israeli authorities have not been doing enough to help and shield ideologically-driven Jewish settlers from unjust criticism.
However, the highly-criticized Israeli settlement expansion on the occupied Palestinian lands, deemed illegal by most of the world’s community, was not slowed by the deadly incident. Announced just days before the arson attack, the construction of some 300 new housing units in the West Bank got additional funding via a $90 million grant from the government this week, according to Haaretz.
Meanwhile, amid Palestinian grief and fury, Israeli forces went on to destroy at least 18 homes and stores in three Palestinian villages in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley – without any warning according to reports. Israel claimed that the structures were “illegal” because they were built without a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration.
The practice of bulldozing Palestinian buildings combined with ever-expanding Israeli settlement activity has always been met with strong criticism from the international community, and even Washington has voiced “deep concerns.” Last year alone, Israel demolished 601 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, displacing 1,215 people to build new homes for the Jewish settlers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pledged to fight “hate and fanaticism” from whatever side, has at the same time announced plans for the construction of more than 500 additional units in annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future country once the two-state solution is reached.
But no peace deal is possible until Israel withdraws from occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, Palestinians say, while Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem to be its spiritual capital, and thus an indivisible part of the Jewish state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israeli government and held it “fully responsible” for the gruesome arson attack on July 31, during which unidentified extremists, allegedly Israeli, hurled a Molotov cocktail through the window of a home in the village of Duma. The assailants also wrote “Long live the Messiah” and “Revenge” on the wall.
Jewish extremists, believing the Israeli government is not doing enough to support their cause, have for years been attacking Palestinian homes, Christian churches, mosques and government buildings, using a suspected “price tag” tactic. The radicals, according to the New York Times, want to “exact a price” from local Palestinians for any action taken by them against the Israeli “settlement enterprise.”