The damaged mosque in Yasuf
In fact, as Haaretz reported,
Investigation into the incident points to the likelihood that settlers from nearby Tapuah are behind the attack, police said, but the vandals have not yet been caught.
Although an attack on a house of prayer is a particularly outrageous act of terrorism, it's not the only one in the present wave of violence. Last week the Israeli police was reported to believe that settlers were also responsible for the torching of a house and two vehicles, belonging to private Palestinian citizens, in the West Bank village of Ain Abous.
The Israelis are "investigating" both incidents. Good luck -- both to them and to those who are confident that someone will be jailed as a result.
On a hilltop, blankets, pots and broken chairs are strewn where the Israeli army tried to demolish an illegal Jewish settlement outpost. In the fields opposite, 70 olive trees are scorched and blackened after the settlers took revenge — not on the army, but on the local Palestinians.And why are they stepping up their "price tagging" right now? Very simple: the Israeli government has declared a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in legal settlements -- as opposed to their previous sporadic crackdowns on illegal outposts only. This has been too much for the Jewish fanatics in the West Bank and they have declared war on the Palestinians.
It is a new and effective settler tactic known as the “price tag”: if the Government sends police or soldiers to dismantle an outpost that is being built, the settlers make the Palestinian population pay the price.
Stupid settlers; they haven't gotten a thing.
Whenever a landmark High Court ruling, painful concession, breakthrough, or watershed is announced by Israel, the first thing you must look for is the caveat. And in this case the caveats are multiple:
- Construction in East Jerusalem won't be frozen.
- Construction already under way (i.e. the foundations of which have already been laid) won't be frozen. This includes more than 3,000 apartments currently being built.
- Construction of schools, synagogues and other public buildings won't be frozen.
- Exceptions may be granted under special conditions.
On month ten plus one day, Netanyahu will declare, in faux exasperation, that he made a painful concession and got nothing from the Palestinians, and the Ziosphere will be a festival of quotes from Golda Meir as to how they hate more than they love and they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. On that precise day, thousands of new permits will be asked for -- and granted.
So that settlers have nothing to worry about. They can focus on building more quickly the apartments that are already going up, or on building more in East Jerusalem. But I understand them; they want to build in their own settlements. In that case, there are still a few options available:
- Build boarding schools. Each student's bedroom will be quite large and equipped with a kitchen, a lounge, and one or two "auxiliary rooms" -- i.e., very similar to an apartment.
- Hire Palestinians to start building new apartments on Saturday, when the freeze enforcers won't drop by. The next time the inspectors show up, the foundations for the buildings will already have been laid, and much to its regret Israel will have to grant them permits. (Don't congratulate me on this idea; I borrowed it from a rabbi.)
- Declare a settlement part of Jerusalem and sue the State. While the case reaches the High Court, start construction of new buildings, which won't be stopped by the State, since it's not clear that the settlement is not part of Jerusalem. When the High Court decides it's not, the foundations will already have been laid.
I'm sure the creative settlers will find other ways around the freeze. So what are they warring about?
I have a conspiracy theory. The freeze was a deal between the government and the settlers. The settlers accepted the symbolic measure in exchange for being allowed to make a lot of trouble so as to give the impression of painfulness (even if the actual pain is being felt by the Palestinians). This might explain the construction spree that preceded the freeze, which would indicate that settlers had prior knowledge of the measure.
Be that as it may, it's clear that the building rate will not diminish during the freeze, and will probably reach unprecedented levels in ten months' time.