Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Photo: Courtesy
A Palestinian stands in the window of a Ramallah police station in October 2000, displaying the blood of two slain Israeli soldiers on his hands

The Ramallah lynching was our warning of what was to come

Opinion: The dark suspicion, separation and iron hand that categorizes Israel's relationship with the Palestinians today can all be traced back to the brutal murder of two IDF reservists in a West Bank police stations exactly 20 years ago

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner |
Published: 10.19.20 , 23:34
In October 2000, a horrific report led the nightly TV news broadcasts. Two young IDF reservists who were reporting to their base in a civilian and had accidentally driven past the Beituna checkpoint in the West Bank and ended up in the city of Ramallah.
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  • Instead of being turned back, the pair were arrested by Palestinian security forces and taken to a police station in Ramallah, near Yasser Arafat’s Mukatah headquarters.
    A Palestinian stands in the window of a Ramallah police station in October 2000, displaying the blood of two slain Israeli soldiers on his hands A Palestinian stands in the window of a Ramallah police station in October 2000, displaying the blood of two slain Israeli soldiers on his hands
    A Palestinian stands in the window of a Ramallah police station in October 2000, displaying the blood of two slain Israeli soldiers on his hands
    (Photo: AFP)
    A rumor that the two soldiers, Vadim Norzhich and Yossi Avrahami, were held in the Palestinian police building quickly spread throughout the city.
    Within minutes, more than 1,000 Palestinians had surrounded the police station, baying for the Israelis' blood. The Palestinian police officers barely made any effort to block the path of rioters, and instead stepped aside, fleeing and leaving the mob to overrun the station.
    What happened next is all too well known in Israel.
    The rioters seized the two soldiers and violently began to assault them. They used anything they could grab inside the station, including their bare hands.
    They strangled, clubbed, stabbed and kicked the Israelis so badly there was barely anything left.
    Proudly the murderers flung open the windows of the room infamously displaying their blood-drenched hands to the cheering crowds of rioters outside.
    With the scent of Jewish blood in the air, the frenzied mob demanded that they too should get a piece of the Israeli bodies and so the killers on the second floor obliged.
    They threw the lifeless bodies of Norzhich and Avrahami out of the window to the courtyard below. The street assembly now joined in the lynching, further bludgeoning and ripping the dead Israelis apart, before setting one on fire.
    Vadim Norzhich, left, and Yosef AvrahamiVadim Norzhich, left, and Yosef Avrahami
    Vadim Norzhich, left, and Yossi Avrahami
    (Photos: Archive)
    Years later, a judge would criticize me for attaching the gruesome autopsy photos to court documents, asking whether it was "truly necessary.”
    Little was I to know, when I heard that first horrible TV broadcast on October 12, 2000 of the Ramallah lynching that I would spend the next 20 years of my life, along with the brave families of the victims and a dedicated group of young attorneys in courtrooms worldwide vigilantly fighting for justice for the Israelis brutally murdered by our “peace partners,” the Palestinians during the Second Intifada.
    I would have not believed the massive amounts of time, resources, travel and emotions we would have to spend to prove before different judges that the suicide bombings, the shootings and stabbings were not some grassroots uprising but rather a cold and calculated strategy by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yasser Arafat and terrorists like Marwan Barghouti and Yahya Ayyash to brutalize and bomb Israelis into making dangerous concessions.
    The Ramallah lynching, which was televised and rebroadcast repeatedly, was the very start of the Intifada that changed everything to come.
    In October 2000, many of us were shockingly caught off guard by the ferocity of the Palestinians’ violence and rage.
    Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993
    Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993
    (Photo: Reuters)
    After all, we had been promised by the government at the time of the Oslo Accords that the White House lawn ceremony and the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat had ushered in a new era of peace, reconciliation and negotiations.
    Suddenly we found ourselves under a full scale attack by a neighboring population targeting our buses, our schools, our cafes, malls and our homes.
    Anyone who was in Israel at the time recalls with a shudder the fear and lack of comprehension we experienced over the hourly barbaric terror attacks led by the unrepentant terrorists we had insanely armed and imported from Tunis.
    Israelis understood they had been badly deceived. They grudgingly acknowledged that Arafat had no real interest in laying down his arms, political compromises nor engaging in the difficult work of state building.
    The 2001 Sbarro Bombing The 2001 Sbarro Bombing
    The scene of the August 2001 suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in downtown Jerusalem
    (Photo: Courtesy )
    In exchange for their brutal attempt at genocide against us, the Palestinians set back their own cause by decades. Twenty years later, their devastated economy, lack of any sovereign institutions, impotent and divided leadership and abandonment of hope is the harsh price they deservedly pay for believing they could murder and terrorize Jews into submission.
    The dark suspicion, separation and iron hand that categorizes our relationship with the Palestinians today can all be traced back to the Ramallah lynching.
    While Arab states all across the Middle East both openly and covertly are establishing relations with Israel, the Palestinian leadership is still holding onto their ‘pay to slay’ policy and their support for terrorism.
    The intervening decades have not softened nor mellowed their hope of returning to Jaffa, to Haifa or to Safed. They still believe they will someday overrun our borders and bring in millions of descendants of the 1948 refugees to settle inside Israel proper.
    The Jewish state’s only hope of containing the Palestinians’ threats and violence is by refusing to sustain their corrupt and deceitful leadership, declining to keep bribing them with bakshish payments and no longer tolerating their culture of anti-Israel hate.
    Rather, we must act to marginalize their situation as we strengthen our relations with the larger Middle East and other potential allies.
    The head of the Israeli delegation, National Security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat (L), and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, sign the Israel-Bahrain accord formalizing diplomatic relations, in the Bahraini capital Manama, on October 18, 2020. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C) looks on The head of the Israeli delegation, National Security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat (L), and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, sign the Israel-Bahrain accord formalizing diplomatic relations, in the Bahraini capital Manama, on October 18, 2020. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C) looks on
    National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Bahraini FM Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani formalizing diplomatic relations in Manama, Oct. 18, 2020
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Palestinian Authority should be treated as an anachronism that needs to be dismantled by a younger generation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a generation that is connected to the outside world and reality by the internet and satellite.
    The message to the Palestinians needs to be as clear as the court judgment handed down earlier this year in the Ramallah lynching case, which found the Palestinian Authority liable for the murders and placed liens of half a billion shekels on their funds.
    The message is that Jewish blood has a price. The Palestinian Authority cannot murder Israelis with impunity.
    If the word intifada means a “shaking off” in Arabic, then perhaps it's time for the next intifada, aimed at the corrupt Palestinian leadership and sense of despair felt by the younger generation who want to seize control of their own futures and move forward.
    Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is the president of the Shurat Hadin Law Center and litigates on behalf of terror victims

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