Uproar over settler attack on soldier only amplifies indifference to Palestinians

Opinion: The shock and condemnation in Israel following settler attack in Hebron on a female soldier proves that Palestinians in the same city don't enjoy the same rights

Einav Schiff|
Since the Saturday events in Hebron, representatives of the Jewish community in the city have been complaining about excessive IDF handling of a small protest staged by Jews on that day - compared to mass Palestinian celebrations in the city that allegedly remained uncontained.
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  • Those celebrations, however, did not include attacks on IDF troops - unlike that protest, when settlers ended up wounding an Israeli female soldier.
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    עימותים בחברון, שבת חיי שרה
    עימותים בחברון, שבת חיי שרה
    Hebron riots
    (Photo: AFP)
    These kinds of events don't usually draw much interest or attention of the media. Even politicians are not quick to condemn or denounce it.
    In 2016, for example, footage emerged showing soldiers entering Palestinian homes to allegedly protect a mass gathering happening outside. But while there, they allowed themselves to use the bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms of the residents.
    One Palestinian even told Ynet back then that a soldier slept in his 17-year-old daughter's bed.
    Just a year later, in 2017, Jews ripped off Palestinian flags from shops during the march to the tomb of Otniel Ben-Kenaz.
    3 View gallery
    עימותים ב חברון במהלך שבת חיי שרה
    עימותים ב חברון במהלך שבת חיי שרה
    Riots in Hebron on Saturday
    (Photo: AFP)
    The flags, according to B'Tselem - an Israeli NGO aimed at documenting and changing the policy in the West Bank to protect Palestinians - were hung in protest that the shops had to be closed for the march. A soldier who arrived at the scene following a confrontation that developed, hit a 16-year-old Palestinian in the head with his weapon.
    This Saturday, however, a mistake was made. Of the 30,000 Jews who surged to Hebron, some decided to express their thousands-year connection to the city with violence. You would assume they would've been satisfied with harassing Palestinians, but attacking an IDF soldier? And one from the Jewish community of the city?
    MK Ben-Gvir later told her father: "I can't tell you how many people ate their hat and regretted it when they found out she actually lives in Hebron."
    Ben-Gvir rushed to release the conversation with the soldiers' father to the press, using phrases like "zero tolerance against such acts" committed by "the guys." Had they been Arabs, however, he would have unlikely called them just "guys." He also made sure to mention the Jewish rioters were only a few out of 30,000.
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    מרב מיכאלי
    מרב מיכאלי
    Itamar Ben-Gvir
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    "It is a phenomenon that should be dealt with psychologically and by the police," Noam Arnon, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron said later.
    Who would believe it, a reference to a mental component responsible for the violent acts. But of course there were the speculations that the riots had been staged by "people with interests" - as the head of the Kiryat Arba settlement suggested.
    Maybe next they will claim that the Shin Bet encouraged such violence, just as the leader of the far-right Religious Zionist party Bezalel Smotrich blamed the security agency for being responsible for the assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
    But the main goal was probably to show the Palestinians who is in charge, and if a soldier was hurt in the process, it's not so bad because sometimes things just happen.
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