Settler chiefs plan ‘code’ to stop violence

By Yaakov Katz, December 11, 2008
The Hebrew word for “revenge” scrawled on a house in Hebron

The Hebrew word for “revenge” scrawled on a house in Hebron

Settler leaders are writing a code of conduct to be used in future struggles against home evacuations in the West Bank in response to the violent rampage by Jewish extremists in Hebron last weekend.

The violence, which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described as a “pogrom”, came after the Israeli forces evacuated a building at the centre of an ownership dispute between settlers and the Palestinian owner.

The Israeli Supreme Court had ordered the Defence Ministry to evacuate the home until the dispute was solved. Last Thursday, policemen removed the occupants in less than an hour.

However, they discovered stores of turpentine, ammonia and acid, as well as potatoes skewered with nails, that the activists had planned to use against them.

Following the evacuation, Jewish extremist youths, some wearing masks, took over a number of Palestinian homes in Hebron and set them on fire. In one case, two men from the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba opened fire on a group of Palestinians, two of whom sustained moderate wounds.

“We cannot allow anarchy and violence,” Yesha settlement council head Danny Dayan said this week. “We are writing the code of conduct in order to prevent such violent activity in the future.”

According to Mr Dayan, the code will lay down guidelines on how to resist future evacuations. He said it would forbid any physical or verbal violence against security personnel as well as innocent Palestinians and would also ensure that the youth heeded the authority of the settler leadership.

“There is a need for leadership so there will not be anarchy as there was in Hebron,” Mr Dayan said.

While Mr Dayan expressed confidence in the code, one activist who was present at the evacuation in Hebron said he did not plan to follow them.

“We will return to the home and will have many surprises waiting for the IDF and the police,” said the activist, who would only give his name as Moshe. “We will do everything we can to prevent additional evacuations in the future.”

The Defence Ministry said it would use its full authority to stop future attacks against innocent Palestinians.

“This type of violence is unacceptable and we cannot allow this to happen,” said Maj-Gen Amos Gilad, Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories. “If they are not stopped, these extremists will bring a disaster on themselves and the state of Israel.”

Last updated: 11:54am, December 11 2008