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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 1-Aug-2015
1-Aug-15 World View -- Tensions with Palestinians soar after brutal Israeli settler 'price tag' attack

Web Log - August, 2015

1-Aug-15 World View -- Tensions with Palestinians soar after brutal Israeli settler 'price tag' attack

Five 'Hilltop Youth' extremists charged with 'price tag' Church arson

This morning's key headlines from

Hamas promises revenge for Palestinian baby burned to death

Ali Dawabsheh, the baby killed in the fire, and the damaged home (Ynet)
Ali Dawabsheh, the baby killed in the fire, and the damaged home (Ynet)

An 18-month-old Palestinian boy was killed early Friday in a night-time arson attack in the West Bank. The attackers used Molotov cocktails to set two homes on fire in the West Bank, and wrote graffiti saying "Revenge" in Hebrew on the walls. The parents of the baby and his 4-year-old brother suffered burns and had to be hospitalized.

The attack is thought to be a "price tag" attack by violent Jewish settlers.

I've described price tag attacks several times in the past few years. The phrase "price tag" is frequently used by far-right Israeli settlers to denote revenge attacks against Palestinians or IDF soldiers in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts, or as retribution for attacks by Palestinians. The attacks have usually been against mosques or other property, and sometimes even Christian property, but they've occasionally crossed the line into violence against Palestinians.

This attack on an innocent Palestinian family, burning a baby alive, is a major escalation in the price tag attacks, and the worst such attack since a Palestinian teen was murdered by Israeli settlers in July of last year.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "clear terrorist attack":

"I am shocked by this horrible criminal act. This is a clear terrorist attack. Israel takes a tough stance against terrorism regardless who the perpetrators are. I have instructed the security forces to use all means at our disposal to capture the killers and bring them to justice as soon as possible. Israel is united in its opposition to such terrible and heinous acts. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to commiserate with the family of Ali Dawwabshe and wish a speedy recovery to the injured family members."

However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called the attack "a crime against humanity," and Hamas has called for an "exceptional" revenge attack against Israelis. YNet and Palestinian News Network and Jewish Press

High tensions are reminiscent of prelude to last year's Gaza war

On June 10 of last year, three Israeli teens were abducted and later found to be killed in the West Bank. Israeli online campaigns were calling for revenge against the Arabs. After the three Israeli teens were kidnapped, and before their dead bodies were discovered, one web site called for the killing of one Arab an hour until the teens were released.

A Jerusalem Post editorial said that Israelis are fed up with dead Jews, though it didn't suggest how the problem can be remedied:

"But something changed with the murder of these three innocent teens. It was not just the senselessness of the act; three defenseless teen boys killed for no reason other than that they were Jewish, for no other purpose but to indulge Palestinian hate. Rather, it was a feeling that this had happened one too many times. That there was a critical mass of dead Jews that had now been reached, beyond which the Israeli public and the world Jewish community is not prepared to mourn anymore."

Their dead bodies were found on June 30 of last year. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the next day that the three were "kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals" and promised: "Hamas will pay."

On July 2, a 15-year-old Palestinian teen named Abu Khdeir was abducted, burnt and killed. The autopsy found soot in his respiratory canal, indicating that he was burnt alive. It's thought that the lynching of Khdeir was in revenge for the deaths of the three Israeli teens, and may have been triggered by Netanyahu's threat.

The lynching triggered massive riots and demonstrations by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and may also have triggered the barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli officials moved quickly to investigate and find the murders of Khdeir in the hope of cooling the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Six young Jewish extremists were arrested for the murder four days later, which quieted the rioting.

The murderers of the three Israeli teens were believed to be hiding out in the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority did nothing to bring them to justice. The murderers were never found. [Correction: Two of the killers died in a shootout with Israeli soldiers on September 23. The third was sentenced to three life sentences. Jerusalem Post 6-Jan-2015](Paragraph modified. 1-Aug)

Violence between Israelis and Palestinians began to increase after these incidents. Both the Israeli and Palestinian populations wanted revenge. There was street violence in Jerusalem, and a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Within a couple of days, Israeli troops were massing on the Gaza border, and Israeli warplanes were targeting "Hamas terror sites" in the Gaza Strip. After a few more days, Israel and Gaza were at full-scale war.

In the aftermath, Hamas said that it was only trying to foment an "intifada," not a war. ( "22-Aug-14 World View -- Hamas says it didn't intend to start the Gaza War")

Things today are different for Hamas and the Arab world. The Gaza War split the Arab world into supporters of Hamas and de facto supporters of Israel. There was a conflict in Syria, but the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was only beginning to be felt.

Today, the Arab world is trying to unify. The Iran nuclear agreement has already unified much of the Sunni Arab world against Iran. There's now a war in Yemen that the Sunni Arabs and Iranians are fighting by proxy. ISIS has become much more powerful today than it was a year ago, and the Syria/Iraq wars are growing in intensity. As we've written several times recently, the Arab world is disintegrating into war.

So it's quite possible that Hamas does not want another war with Israel at this time. On the other hand, the burning alive of an 18-month-old baby by Israeli extremists is probably going to cause riots and revenge attacks. And those may spiral into another war whether either side wants it or not. Jerusalem Post (5-July-2014)

Five 'Hilltop Youth' extremists charged with 'price tag' Church arson

Police arrested on Wednesday five "Hilltop Youth" activists who allegedly were behind the June 18 arson at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

The Hilltop Youth are third generation terrorist Israeli settlers who are living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank hilltops. It's believed that the arson attack on the Church was a "Price Tag" attack.

The blog of the head of the group on the “Jewish Voice” site on May 20 of this year sought to encourage attacks on Christian religious sites and stated:

"Only those who deny idolatry and fight against Christianity and aspire to remove the churches from the Holy Land – they are called Jews."

According to the Israeli police:

"This group operates in the context of an ideological infrastructure composed of a limited number of hilltop youth activists. This infrastructure has operated since 2013 and holds to an extremist ideology that aspires to change the regime and bring about the redemption via various stages of action.

The infrastructure sought to hit ‘weak points’ in the State of Israel in order to arouse dialogue and win adherents and also tried (unsuccessfully) to disrupt the May 2014 visit of Pope Francis."

It had been hoped that the arrest would strike a fatal blow to the "hilltop youth" terrorist movement, but that was before Friday's price tag attack that killed the 18-month-old Palestinian boy. Jewish Press and Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Palestinian teen shot and killed by Israeli army near Gaza border fence

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday. An Israeli spokesman said that several suspects approached the fence, and did not heed calls by soldiers to stop. Israel enforces a 300-meter-(1,000-foot)-deep, security no-go zone on the Gaza side of the fence. The frontier has been largely quiet since a 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Aug-15 World View -- Tensions with Palestinians soar after brutal Israeli settler 'price tag' attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Aug-2015) Permanent Link
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