Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett were unfazed by the fact that 11 policemen were hurt in the evacuation of an illegal outpost on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The prime minister and the right-wing ministers’ silence over the serious incident that took place near Tapuach in the Samaria region is deafening and troubling, and this isn’t the first time it happens.
I feel so sorry for the policemen. If only they had been attacked by Arabs rather than by Jewish settlers, everything could have been so different. If it were Arabs, the orders would have allowed the use of counterviolence and even live fire, the policemen would have been required to use counterviolence and attack the rioters, and the government would have stood by them and awarded citations to those fighting terror.
But when the rioter is a settler, the violence is tolerable, the stone is no longer considered a weapon, and you have to know how to contain, show understanding and forgiveness.
Justice Minister Shaked, who sponsored legislation to ramp up punishments for stone throwers, is silent. Internal Security Minister Erdan, who rushes to slam and point an accusing finger at the Arab sector following every incident, is silent. Defense Minister Lieberman, who made his political capital from his incitement against Arab Knesset members, is silent. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has already learned that he shouldn’t get into trouble with the hard core of the right-wing support base. The Tapuach settlers are immune.
One doesn’t have to go too far to understand the extent of hypocrisy here. Only seven months ago, the whole country was shocked by the documentation of teenager Ahed Tamimi confronting and slapping two soldiers. The incident was met with endless condemnations from the Right, and although she didn’t physically wound anyone, the demand for her arrest was loud and clear.
I wonder what will happen to the dozens of “Ahed Tamimi” settlers who physically resisted the outpost’s evacuation on Saturday night. It’s safe to assume that none of them will spend more than a few hours in detention, and that the increased penalty for stone throwers won’t apply to them.
In today’s Israel, a Palestinian teen who didn’t wound a soldier will rot in prison for eight months, while an Israeli teen will be reprimanded and get a note to take home to his parents.
The police officers and soldiers should be praised for their restraint: Shooting is only allowed in a life-threatening situation, and only moderate force should be used in the dispersal of protesters. But this policy is required not only when the rioters are settlers with connections in the corridors of power. Everyone deserves fair treatment during protests and disturbances, including Arab protestors.
Yariv Oppenheimer is a board member and former director of Peace Now.