Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday visited several locations in Samaria, having convened joint think tanks for the police and the army set up to act against “settlers’ violence.” In a security environment where thousands of Arab stone and firebomb attacks on Jews recorded every month in Judea and Samaria, Gantz focused his visit on receiving an assessment of the situation from all security officials, including Judea and Samaria Police and the notoriously anti-settlements Jewish Department of the Shin Bet, on the increased “Jewish nationalist” tensions on the other side of the Green Line.
Ganz and his subordinates toured near the Givat Evyatar and Homesh outposts, both of which made headlines over the past few months. On the eve of leaving office, former AG Avichai Mandelblit approved the Evyatar outline, introducing a productive modus vivendi to the local settlers’ relationship with the defense apparatus and the IDF. The left, especially Meretz, hated it and attacked Gantz for giving in to the “criminal outpost.” In Homesh, there may be hope for another form of modus vivendi, so that the local yeshiva would not have to be evacuated. There, too, Gantz is exposed to hostile winds within his coalition.
This may explain why Gantz and his entourage have come up with the dubious notion of “violent settlers,” blaming half a million law-abiding, taxpaying, reserve serving Israeli Jews for a scattering of mostly unproven encounters which in reality are drowned out by the thousands of ever-present, incessant, murderous Arab attacks.
His subordinates delivered the goods he was asking for: J&S Precinct Superintendent Uzi Levy, Commander of the IDF Central Command General Yehuda Fox, Division Commander Colonel Avi Bluth, and Samaria Brigade Commander Roy Zweig-Lavi, all discussed the increased nationalist-Jewish crime wave and agreed on coordinating their efforts to crack down on it.
It’s a lot of Generals to clamp down on fewer than 50 guys up and down the liberated territories. According to Ynet, citing security sources, arrests will be made in the coming days following two incidents in which “far-right activists rioted in Hawara and Burin.”
The Hawara incident involved a line of cars that was bringing home a minor from Yitzhar who had been released from prison where he served a year for throwing a shock grenade at an Arab home. The cars were attacked by Hawara Arabs, so the Jews got out of their cars and fought back. Three Arabs, including a minor, were injured. Some 20 Arab-owned parked cars and two stores sustained damage. Not what you’d call a crime spree.
Burin was ugly: leftist Israelis who were helping PA Arabs work their land were attacked by masked Jews wielding baseball bats from the Givat Ronen outpost. The leftists were mostly old-timers, ages 60 to 80, and the attackers were ruthless and merciless. The pictures of bleeding elderly Jews were pretty revolting, and the entire settler leadership condemned the attack. It was nasty, for sure, but in terms of Arab violence, it was a Friday.
The next few weeks will see bands of Shin Bet and police agents roaming the settlements and outposts in search of violent Jews when a roundup of the usual suspect would have likely filled three holding cells in the J&S police station. It will be about optics, to embed in the public’s memory the images of bloodthirsty Jews being hauled away to prison – while the average Arab stone-thrower goes away unscathed, and the maximum sentence in cases where a Jewish victim has been hurt barely skirts one year.
Meanwhile, Gantz has to deal with the ceaseless haranguing of the State Dept. about an 80-year-old Arab American, a former resident of Cleveland, Ohio, that an IDF patrol handcuffed, blindfolded, and left abandoned on the side of the road where he died of a heart attack. Now, there’s some violence one can write home about.
Finally, Ynet reported on Tuesday that Gantz canceled at the last minute his scheduled visit to the headquarters of the Central Command, in Samaria. His office insisted it was due to scheduling difficulties, but rumor has it that the right-wing members of the security-political cabinet had clashed with Gantz over his plan to use IDF soldiers to chase after “Jewish nationalist terrorists.”