On Tuesday, November 30, the United Nations Security Council convened to discuss events in the Middle East, condemning Israeli settler violence in the West Bank and the trend of the Israeli military allowing them to be carried out. Yet despite this being condemned by the international community, Western media finds it of no interest to discuss.
“The number of attacks by settlers in the first 10 months of 2021 was the highest recorded level of violence in recent years,” said the Vietnamese representative to the UNSC, adding that, “We [the UN] have not seen any effort by relevant authorities to reverse this trend”. Representatives from a number of country’s voiced their concerns over an escalating level of illegal Israeli settler violence against Palestinians — a level of violence not even seen through the years of the Trump administration.
Tensions, which erupted into a war in May — killing 270 Palestinians and 13 Israelis — have resulted in an even more unsafe environment for Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem as settler gangs, known often as the Hilltop Youth, escalate their perpetrated acts of terror.
The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, stated that “Settler-related violence remains at alarmingly high levels”, explaining that the 54 attacks by settlers against Palestinians numbered much higher than the attacks against both Israeli settlers and soldiers carried out by Palestinians living under occupation. Israeli settler attacks this year have also targeted Churches, Mosques, Burial Sites and agricultural lands, as well as Palestinian homes and cars.
On November 21, a member of Hamas’s political wing, Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, carried out an attack in Jerusalem’s old city, targeting and killing an Israeli settler from South Africa, injuring 3 others. This story of a religious Palestinian killing an adult Israeli settler received international news coverage and was widely condemned as an act of terrorism, for which, it was argued, the Palestinian political party, Hamas, should be held accountable. Yet there was complete silence from Western media when earlier that same month a Palestinian child was murdered for protesting against an illegal settlement. On November 5, Palestinians peacefully protested against Israeli settlement expansion at the illegal Elon Moreh settlement near the city of Nablus. An Israeli occupation soldier then fired live ammunition targeting and killing 15-year-old Mohammed Da’adas.
So let’s compare the two cases. The slain Israeli settler, named Eliyahu Kay, was 26 years old and came to Israel as a religious extremist seeking to live on Palestinian land. The man was from South Africa and joined the Israeli military which also makes him a soldier. Additionally, he was working on Judaization projects at the Western Wall and around Al-Aqsa Mosque. He was killed for clearly political reasons, as were stated by his killer and the incident came out of the rage coming from Palestinians, as they are being forced from their homes, killed, injured, humiliated and living under apartheid conditions as Human Rights Watch (HRW) described it.
Then we have 15 year old Mohammed, a native Palestinian who lives under a brutal military occupation and has not received a break from illegal settler attacks and settlement expansion threatening his family’s existence on their lands, in addition to the daily crimes committed against him by Israel’s occupation forces. Mohammed wanted to be a photojournalist when he grew up, to document what was going on around him. Yet because he threw a stone — which did not injure anyone — he was murdered by an occupation soldier. Mohammed never committed a crime, Mohammed didn’t hold religious extremist views, he wasn’t illegally occupying land that did not belong to him, nor did he pick up a gun to attack unarmed civilians and harass them in order to forward the aims of a settler-colonial usurper entity.
But for Western media, the little brown kid called Mohammed doesn’t matter, his life means nothing, and it is a non-story. Only Israelis, the members of the so-called “civilized world”, the best friends of the “leader of the free world”, only their lives matter to Western media. The same Western media which loves to lecture others about racism are the outlets who whitewash and participate in the continuation of one of the worst racist systems on earth.
Just last month, according to the UN’s OCHA, Israeli settlers uprooted or stole the produce from over 600 Palestinian olive trees and attacked Palestinian children. In the OCHA’s monthly report for November, it stated that “In the H2 area of Hebron, a [Palestinian] boy was pepper-sprayed and a seven-year-old [Palestinian] girl fell down and injured herself while being chased by [Israeli] settlers.” What does the Israeli military think about the rise in settler violence, they believe in a “hands off” approach and to allow settlers to “blow off steam”. This is apparently what should be done when it comes to racist hate crimes against Palestinians, according to the Israeli government.
Israeli settlement expansion is also being authorized on an even more rapid scale, simultaneously, as the settlers go on the offensive. Additionally, Israel’s current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is himself openly a religious extremist who believes that God gave him the right to take over all of Palestine, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank. So with an open policy of support, by a religious extremist government, for a religious extremist settler population, it isn’t hard to see why the cases of violence are enabled.