The American sanctions on four settlers are insufficient and do not provide deterrence

Madeeha Araj
2024 / 2 / 11

By: Madeeha Al-A’raj

The national Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that in a unique and unprecedented step, the US President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order against settlers, who launched terrorist attacks on the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The order stated, ‘The situation in the West Bank, particularly, the level of violence by extremist settlers, the forced displacement of individuals and towns, and the destruction of property, has reached unbearable levels and constitutes a serious threat to peace, security, and stability in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and the Middle East.” Hence, the first part of the order constituted American recognition that the violence of extremist settlers in the West Bank threatens stability in the Middle East, and harms national security and interests of the United States of America.
It is a dangerous admission, based on such an assessment of settler violence, it was expected that the sanctions would rise to the level of this serious threat to ‘peace, security, and stability in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and the Middle East region,’ and thus, to affect roots of the matters´-or-to cover a broader political and security area that can surround this threat and prevents it from expanding. As for the order being-limit-ed in its practical aspect to economic sanctions on four terrorist “pay price” thugs, this is a thing that calls for questioning, among these economic sanctions are freezing assets they may have in the United States, and refraining from carrying out any financial transactions with them. This order is something that the four settlers can bear and circumvent it. As for the four settlers, they are, ‘David Khai Khasdai, who led riots and burned Palestinian property and killed in Hiwwara, and Shalom Zicherman, who attacked Israeli activists, who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians against settlement, and Yinon Levy, who accused of leading a group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Metarim Farm, and attacked Palestinians and Bedouin civilians in Masafer Yatta, and destroyed property there.

The striking and dangerous of this order is that it ignored settler violence in Jerusalem, in its towns, villages, and surroundings, and in the Jerusalem wilderness itself, where the level of settler violence and terrorism is constantly rising. In any case, the order remains a step in the right -dir-ection, but a small step that began at the tail end of settler violence, but not the head, as US Administrations usually do with the sanctions they impose on individuals, entities, and even countries. Hence, the Israeli reaction was largely indifferent, with the exception of the inexperienced Minister of Settlement in the Army Ministry, Bezalel Smotertz. In the general context, the Israeli government confirmed that ‘there is no room for taking exceptional measures’ against Israeli settlers in Judea and Samaria i.e. the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office defended the settlers, stressing that ‘“the vast majority of settlers in the West Bank are law-abiding citizens, and many of them are currently fighting in defense of Israel. Israel is taking measures against anyone who violates the law everywhere,” and in extension of this Netanyahu said, the Israeli government will provide NIS 20 million to support settlement outposts, the practical incubator of terrorism. As for the Minister of Finance and Minister of Settlement in the Ministry of the Army, Bezalel Smotrich, he soon informed the banking controller at the Bank of Israel that “this is unacceptable, and added no Israeli citizen, in any Israeli bank shall be denied access to his money. No. There is no basis in law on which he can be denied access to money. I will intervene in this matter as Minister of Finance and we will do what is necessary." In the meantime, Israeli banking specialists confirmed to their minister that the banks are obligated to implement the measures imposed by Washington under the US sanctions on the four settlers, in light of their banking dealings with American entities, “otherwise, the banks will be subject to US economic sanctions.”

Such sanctions are a very small step in the right -dir-ection and a political message, but it is a weak message that will not be able to reduce the level of of violence of Jewish terrorist organizations, which escalated dangerously after the October 7 in general and after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir armed them in particular. The organizations, which take safe havens from the settlements, settlement outposts and so-called pastoral farms under the protection of the occupation army and police, are known to the American administration, the European countries and to all of Washington’s allies. Settler fires move freely throughout the villages and towns of the Palestinian countryside, from Hawara, Jalud, and Qasr to Al-Mughir, Turmus-Ayya, Um Safa, Barqa, and Al-Mu rajat, all the way to the Hebron Mountains and Masafer Yatta, Jewish terrorist organizations are marching carrying matches to ignite more fires, started by organized groups that complete the role, which the occupying army cannot do, for political considerations and political reasons.
It is noted that the organized terrorist groups, no longer pay much attention to criticism of their actions, they moved from working in secret cells to working in organized groups in broad daylight and began publishing their posters on the Israeli military checkpoints spread throughout the West Bank, calling for revenge against the Palestinians. The danger of settler violence does not stop at the confiscation of the lands and property of Palestinian citizens by force, but rather in assaulting their lives and threatening their security. Within the framework of this organized violence, secret terrorist cells began to form, which developed over time into terrorist organizations that operate openly in an organized manner, and have their political authorities in the Knesset, the government, the regional councils of the settlements, and their religious authorities, namely the rabbis of the settlements and their field authorities as well.
They were taking to the streets in small groups, attacking Palestinian citizens, vandalizing their property, and writing racist slogans on the walls of their homes. They were now going out in the hundreds in an organized manner, raiding, burning, and destroying anything that stood in their way of protecting the occupation army and taking care of these political and spiritual references. This violence has worsened since the beginning of October 7, as settlers committed more than 343 violent attacks, which led to the martyrdom of more than 10 citizens, 5 of them within 2 days in the town of Qusra, south of the city of Nablus, and the injury of more than 120 others, and forcing more than 1,500 Palestinians from Various governorates of the West Bank to leave their homes.
The political authority for the Jewish violence and terrorism organizations operating in the settlements does not hide its identity. It occupies its positions in the Knesset and in the government. The photo here appeared clear after 14 Knesset members submitted a petition to the Israeli internal security service “Shin Bet” demanding improvement in the detention conditions of the terrorist Amiram Ben-Uliel, who was convicted of murdering the Dawabsha family in the village of Duma in July of 2015, and upon ending his administrative detention in Eshel Prison. They are mainly led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir., the typical fascist politicians, who are more dangerous compared to other fascists and neo-Nazis in the current Netanyahu Government.
This violence is not a spontaneous act, but rather an organized that is encouraged and sponsored by the political levels of the Likud, Religious Zionist and Jewish parties. Minister Smotrich of religious Zionism did not hesitate to call for the burning of the town of Huwara, and so did the influential Likud, Yossi Dagan, head of the settlement council in the northern West Bank. As for National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, he also went far in encouraging settler violence and he espouses the crime, which was committed by settler Yehiel Endor in the village of Burqa, praising this terrorist and his crime for which he deserves to receive a “medal of honor.” With such people, President Biden s executive order should have begun, without diminishing the importance of its inclusion of the executive criminal elements of the settlers.
The settlers’ violence in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, is clear. It must be addressed by the international community with appropriate sanctions in order for it to be effective. At the same time, there are American civil society organizations that fund this organized violence. The Israeli human rights association “Kerem Naboth” shed light on this a few weeks ago, confirming that the American evangelical “Hiophil-Jubilee” organization is financing the seizure of private Palestinian land by settlers in the “Esh Kodesh” terrorist hotspot in the plain of the village of Jalud, southeast of Nablus, and launched a campaign to collect funds to plant 3,000 trees on Palestinian land, confiscated by the occupation in the West Bank.
In recent years, thousands of volunteers were recruited to plant trees in the settlements near the Jalud village, in cooperation with the settlers, and established their main headquarters there. Such organizations must be subject to sanctions if the American administration is concerned with preserving its interests at a minimum. These sanctions could extend to dozens of similar organizations, and require their closure, as they provide American taxpayers’ money with assistance to terrorist organizations.

Within the context, attention is drawn to a series of positions issued by a number of countries, which have also begun to consider imposing sanctions on settlers who practice violence against Palestinian citizens. French Foreign Minister, Stephane Ségornet, recently expressed his hope that the European -union- would impose sanctions on Israeli settlers who commit acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. France, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have condemned in a joint position the acts of violence committed by extremist settlers that terrorize Palestinian communities, without accompanying this with a practical step.
Now, after the American step to impose sanctions on four settlers, attention is turning to these countries and their next step in this regard. The American police opened the way for them, will their next steps come from that type of message, which do not deter the violence of a terrorist settler nor provide safety for a Palestinian citizen!

List of Israeli Assaults over the Last Week Documented by the National Bureau:
• Issuing a temporary decision to close the vehicle parking lot on the Friday market land, near the northeastern corner of the Jerusalem Wall, after the occupation municipality crews and the so-called “Nature Authority” stormed the land and bulldozed the land and close it, while members of the Owais, Hamad, and Atallah families confronted them, Note that they have been waging a legal debate to prove ownership of their land for years. The targeted land is adjacent to the Yusufiya cemetery, part of which was seized for the purpose of establishing a “national park.”
• Demolishing a room in the house of citizen Nidal al-Rajabi, under the pretext of building without a permit, a house for al-Maqdisi Harbi al-Rajabi in the town of Silwan in occupied Jerusalem, knowing that the house had been built since 2015, and without allowing the family to take out its contents, including furniture.
• Attacking the head of the Benedictine monks in the Holy Land, Father Nicodemus Schnabel, while another insulted Jesus Christ, peace be upon him.
• Attacking Khirbet al-Tuba, south of Hebron, especially the homes of unarmed citizens, threatening them with death and deportation. The Issa Awad family was forced to leave from Khirbet al-Tuba to the village of Asfi, after being subjected to repeated attacks by settlers, in addition to stealing their sheep more than once.
• In the Um Nir area of Masafer Yatta, farmers and activists suffered bruises and suffocation while trying to enter their lands, which are subject to settlement attacks.
• Placing a military tower in the “Dhahr Ftaima” area in the town of Beit Umar, north of Hebron. They also placed mobile caravans on lands owned by citizens of the Adi family. The tower and the caravans are surrounded by hundreds of dunams planted with grapes and almonds, which is a fertile agricultural area. The presence of this military tower and the caravans will constitute an obstacle to the owners as they are unable to access and work on their lands.
• attacked citizens in the areas of Wadi al-Jawaiya and Asfi in Masafer Yatta, preventing them from reaching pastures south of Hebron and destroying approximately 100 dunams of the citizens’ agricultural crops. A group of settlers also stormed from the “Otnael” settlement, Khallet Al-Farra community, southwest of Yatta, harassed a number of citizens, seized their cell phones, and forced them to sit on the ground for long hours.
• Attacking sheep herders and farmers by beating them in Saddat Al-Tha’la and Um Al-Khair, in Masafer Yatta, which resulted in a number of them sustaining bruises.

• Running over a flock of sheep in the village of Kisan, east of Bethlehem, belonging to the citizen Mustafa Ibrahim Abayat, near the main street in the village, which led to the death of a number of them.
• Attacking the vehicle of the citizen Abdel Karim Najajra near the “Beitar Illit” settlement, which led to smashing its windows and causing damage to its structure.
• Demolishing the foundations of a house under construction in the city of Beit Jala, west of Bethlehem, belonging to Khaser Al-Quntar in the Cremisan area, northwest of Beit Jala, and a staircase to his brother Ibrahim’s house under the pretext of not having a permit.
• Setting fire to rubber tires at the entrance to the town of Turmus-Ayya, north of Ramallah, obstructed the movement of citizens on the main road connecting Ramallah and Nablus.
• Putting their cows on farmers’ lands in the Ras al-Qubba and the Marj Arzal areas in Sinjil, near the Ma’ale Labouneh settlement.
• Attacking homes of citizens living in the Al-Joura area, located on the outskirts of the town of Al-Sawiya, south of Nablus, and burned some vehicle.
• Leveling citizens’ lands in the town of Qasra in the southeastern area of the town and established places to park caravans, attacked citizens’ vehicles near the village of Bazaria, northwest of Nablus.
• Renewing their attack on the homes and property of the “Muharib” family in the northern neighborhood of the town of Huwwara, south of Nablus. A member of the Muharib family reported that his house and shop are located in the northern neighborhood near the Salman al-Farisi junction leading to the Yitzhar settlement, knowing that this neighborhood is subject to repeated settler attacks in the town, it was subjected to destruction and fire during the major attack on Hawara in last February.
• Vandalizing an agricultural room, in the town of Kafr al-Dik, west of Salfit in the Dahr Sobh area, north of the town, owned by Safi Ali al-Ahmad, destroyed its contents and wrote racist slogans on its walls under the pretext that the it’s in area C.
• Storming the eastern area of the village of Sarta, fired live bullets in the air, assaulted and shouted at a citizen while he was herding sheep there, demanding that he not leave the house, noting that the house is a few meters away from the Burkan settlement, which was established on citizens’ lands.
• Storming the village of Frasin, south of Jenin, raided citizens’ homes and wreaked havoc and destruction on their contents. They also raided a poultry farm, vandalized and destroyed it, tore down the plastic houses, and seized monitoring camera after smashing their screens.
• Burning an agricultural room in the village of Dhahr. Al-Abd in the Ya bad area, belonging to Nassim Jawad Amarneh. The fire destroyed all of its contents, including electrical appliances, agricultural equipment, and furniture.
Jordan Valley:
• Preventing farmers from grazing their livestock in the Arab Al-Malihat area, northwest of Jericho, as they stormed the area located on the Al-Ma rajat road, in order to seize the land and impose control over it.
• Storming citizens’ homes in the Ras al-Auja area after chasing their sheep, with the aim of stealing them. The occupation police and army came to the area and brought trucks to forcefully steal the sheep in front of their owners, 10 sheep were stolen from Ahmed Rashayda.
• Demolishing a house belonging to Nayef Nujoom and his family, that estimated at 120m2, in the town of Nuweima, north of Jericho, under the pretext of building without a permit. Moreover, they notified of the demolition of six houses in the village, owned by the Nujoom family.
• Issuing a decision to demolish two houses and barracks in the Ras al-Ahmar area in the northern Jordan Valley, belonging to Thaer Abdullah Hussein Bisharat, and Ali Ezzat Youssef Bani Odeh.

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