Two posts from today’s blogosphere offer spot-on responses to yesterday’s tragic killings in Hebron:
I very much appreciate President Obama condemning yesterday’s murders of four settlers in the South Hebron Hills.
But that condemnation would be an awful lot more meaningful, to myself and to many others I’m sure, if we saw similar outrage in Washington when Israel killed over 700 Palestinian non-combatants in Operation Cast Lead. Or when a border policeman killed Bassem Abu Rahmeh by firing a gas cannister directly and intentionally at him. Or for any of the 100 Palestinians killed since the end of Operation Cast Lead (many of whom were killed as combatants, to be sure, but 32 of whom were not taking part in hostilities nor were counted as “targeted assassinations”).
Whether or not Hamas had a role in yesterday’s attack it is too soon to tell. And even if some or all of the gunmen turn out to belong to the movement does not necessarily reveal a great deal about the level of command and control or political motives for the attack.
Whatever the motives, the outcome itself has opened political opportunities to each constituency that now portrays itself as a victim.
Given that the attack took place in an area controlled by the IDF, President Abbas could have taken the opportunity to point out that the attack underlines the fact that there can ultimately be no security solution to the political conflict. Instead, Palestinian security services have been quick to launch what is being described as one of the largest arrest waves of all time in the West Bank.
At the funerals of the four Israelis killed, settler leaders took the opportunity to push for settlement expansion, call for vengeance (a call which has already been acted upon), deny the existence of the Palestinian people and made a thinly-veiled appeal for ethnic cleansing…
When President Obama tries to press Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the so-called settlement freeze, the Israeli prime minister will no doubt tell him solemnly that in light of recent events, his hands are well and truly tied.
They shoot and we build has become the settlers’ slogan — one that is almost certainly to Netanyahu’s liking.