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Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, blames ‘renegade’ Jewish settlers for the gruesome murder of Palestinian infant, Ali Saad Dawabsheh.

Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, in cahoots with Israeli security to protect the very Settlers responsible for the murder, shrewdly deflected culpability filing a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Israeli government officials described the attack as terrorism which must be fought “regardless of which side it comes from”, a PR ploy to portray Israel as the good guy, one that fights terrorism and is a victim of it.

But for years, incendiary statements against Palestinians made by Israeli ministers, the Israeli army and Rabbi’s, incited Jewish settler zealots to fire-bomb Palestinian homes with impunity.

Last year, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Moshe Feiglin, referred to Palestinians as “savages”. Member of Knesset, Ayelet Shaked, called for violence towards Palestinians, including palestinian mothers and children.

“…Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

In 2012, it was revealed that Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman had been offering advice to extreme right-wing activists on how to seek pardons for Israeli Jews convicted of violent attacks against Palestinians and others. (According to Israeli military intelligence, there are over 20 000 heavily armed settlers equipped with mortars, light and heavy-calibre machine guns and sniper rifles). Neeman’s statement fosters a sense of impunity that makes such vicious attacks inevitable.

Dan Halutz, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, affirmed that Netanyahu’s government is not serious about preventing settler violence, stating: “If we wanted, we could catch them [settlers who are attacking Palestinians] and when we want to, we will.”

Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem said Dawabsheh’s killing was only a matter of time due to the authorities’ policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes. “In light of this, the clock is ticking in the countdown to the next arson attack, and the one after, ”B’Tselem concluded.

A 2013 UN report found that since 2009 the number of settler-related incidents resulting in casualties has more than doubled, and the number of casualties caused by settlers has increased by 30 percent; while the number of settler-related incidents resulting in property damage has more than tripled, and the number of trees destroyed or damaged has increased almost four-fold.

The report also found that from January to August 2013, compared to the same period in 2012, the number of casualties caused by Israeli security forces increased more than four-fold, as security forces intervene in settler attacks or resulting clashes between settlers and Palestinians to disperse Palestinians, rather than to protect them from attacks by settlers.

The so-called “revenge” or “price tag” attacks on Palestinian individuals, their homes, their livelihoods, or their infrastructure, churches, mosques and trees are perpetrated in order to intimidate Palestinians and aggressively advocate for illegal settlements.

According to Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din, the probability that a complaint submitted to the Israel police by a Palestinian will lead to an effective investigation, that results in the location of a suspect, and followed by indictment, trial and conviction is just 1.9 percent.

The segregated dual legal systems in the West Bank ensures in favour of Jewish settlers ensure that if they are convicted at all, it will merely be a symbolic slap on the wrist; whereas Palestinians, if they are not shot, face up to 20 years in jail for just throwing a stone.

Netanyahu’s right-wing governments’ phoney outage at Dawabsheh’s killing cannot conceal the fact that Jewish settlers’ take their cue from the Israeli government and army’s openly racist attitude towards the colonised Palestinians.

Only by ensuring that the Israeli government be held accountable for the horrendous crimes against the Palestinians in violation of international law  and the dismantling of the colonial project will such tragedies be averted.

Firoz Osman is an executive member of Media Review Network, and the co-author of Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid: A South African Perspective (Porcupine Press, 2013).

Firoz Osman

Firoz Osman is a medical doctor by profession and a highly-respected South African commentator on the Zionist occupation of Palestine. A founding member and executive member of Media Review Network, he has a special interest in Palestinian political and resistance movements, Zionism, and Islamophobia