update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

IDF official to lawmakers: No such thing as ‘settler violence’

"There is nationalistic crime, but we are talking about a few incidents," senior military officials said.

Residents of the Samaria community of Ramat Migron, Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Residents of the Samaria community of Ramat Migron, Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that “there is no such concept as settler violence” in Judea and Samaria.

“There is nationalistic crime, but we are talking about a few incidents…We have great respect for the residents of Judea and Samaria. They are our brothers, and it is our job to ensure their safety,” the senior IDF officials told lawmakers during a closed-door meeting.

The official emphasized however that while there have only been a handful of incidents, these attacks “must be denounced by everyone so that the few do not tarnish an entire population,” according to Arutz 7.

According to IDF and Israel Police data, Jewish violence against Palestinians in Judea and Samaria has been steadily decreasing. Earlier this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen called reports of growing “settler violence” a “blood libel” and “a lie disconnected from reality.”

On Feb. 1, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order targeting “persons undermining peace, security and stability” in Judea and Samaria, citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages and property destruction.”

The White House named four Israeli Jews as the targets of sanctions: Yinon Levi of Meitarim Farm; David Chai Chasdai of Givat Ronen; Einan Tanjil of Kiryat Ekron; and Shalom Zicherman of Mitzpe Yair. Of the four, only Chasdai has ever run afoul of Israeli authorities.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has blasted the Biden administration’s Judea sanctions as a “disgrace” that could potentially apply to anyone who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

“So anyone who the State Department feels is hostile to creating a Palestinian terror state could wake up one morning and find his funds frozen at his local bank!” Friedman tweeted on Feb. 13.

“Not only is this an unlawful interference in another nation’s internal politics (and a key ally to boot!) but it illegally punishes Israelis for exercising their free speech,” the ambassador noted.

Addressing the national Israel mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Feb. 18, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew said that the sanctions issue had been “overstated.”

“This executive order is not about all Israelis and not even about all settlers—just that small minority who pursue violent extremism, and we have consistently shared these concerns, along with the commitment to do what we can to stop it, along with importuning the government of Israel to take effective action,” he said.

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