Killing of Israelis met with calls for war crimes

The wife of an Israeli settler killed in February is calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to build 800 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

Anne Paq ActiveStills

A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces near the entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli man who died of his injuries that same day.

The deadly incident came two days after two Israeli soldiers were killed by a Palestinian driver in the occupied West Bank, in what Israel says was a deliberate attack.

The alleged Palestinian assailant killed on Sunday was identified as Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel, 28, from the northern West Bank village of Aqraba.

The Ma’an News Agency reported that Bani Fadel was shot more than 10 times, according to witnesses.

Bani Fadel held a five-day work permit approved by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence apparatus, to enter Israel, beginning on Sunday.

In only a couple of other cases since October 2015 – when a new wave of confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli forces began – has a Palestinian with a work permit allegedly attacked an Israeli.

Temple movement activist slain

The Israeli slain on Sunday was identified as Adiel Coleman, a resident of the Kochav Hashachar settlement in the occupied West Bank.

During Coleman’s funeral in Kochav Hashachar on Monday, Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, “highlighted Coleman’s work at the City of David archaeological site in East Jerusalem,” the Times of Israel reported.

Friends of Coleman told the publication that he had worked for City of David for several years. Built on land seized from Palestinians, City of David is an archaeological theme park run by Elad, an Israeli settler organization.

Coleman’s mother told Israel Army Radio that her son was building scaffolding at the City of David site “for the purpose of preparing the Temple” – referring to the right-wing movement that seeks the destruction of Islamic holy sites at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound and the building of a Jewish temple in their place.

That movement has been tacitly backed by Israeli leaders like public security minister Gilad Erdan, who on Sunday praised “the police officer who reacted swiftly and killed the terrorist and prevented further injuries.”

The slaying of the alleged assailant was also commended by Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay.

Israeli lawmaker Uri Ariel, of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, called for increased settlement building at Coleman’s funeral, stating “there will be only one sovereign state, the State of Israel, this land of ours, we received from the Holy One.”

Collective punishment

Israel has already carried out collective punishment measures following Coleman’s slaying. Occupation forces raided Aqraba village before dawn on Monday and took measurements of Bani Fadel’s family home in preparation for its demolition.

The homes of many alleged Palestinian assailants have been destroyed as a form of reprisal since October 2015. Such collective punishment measures are illegal under international law.

The father of Netanel Kahalani, one of two Israeli soldiers killed by Palestinian motorist Ala Qabha on Friday, joined Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman in calling for Qabha’s death.

Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party is pushing legislation that would allow for Palestinians convicted of fatal attacks on Israelis to be punished by death. The bill passed a preliminary reading in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in January.

“Demolishing houses will not help. When they decide to impose the death penalty, it will stop. They should throw their families into the sea,” the Israeli sargeant’s father told Haaretz.

Israel’s science minister Ofir Akunis, speaking at the funeral of Ziv Daos, the other soldier killed on Friday, also called for Qabha to be put to death.

“He who takes the lives of others should know his life will be taken right back – death penalty for terrorists is the present need,” Akunis said.

Israel has already ordered the immediate revocation of around 100 work permits for Qabha’s relatives.

The military is also mulling a change to the route of Israel’s wall in Qabha’s hometown of Bartaa, which straddles the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank, so that it would partition the village.

The past week’s slayings brings the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians so far this year to five.

On Sunday Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian who they say fatally stabbed settler Itamar Ben Gal early last month.

Defense minister Lieberman welcomed the arrest of Abd al-Hakim Asi, 19, along with several others in the West Bank city of Nablus, stating, “Let any murderous terrorist know, we will get our hands on him and settle the score.”

Ben Gal’s wife stated in response to Asi’s arrest that “Our only consolation, the only thing that will prevent another murder like this is building (in the West Bank).”

She called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve the construction of 800 housing units in Har Bracha settlement.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population to the territory it occupies is a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The settlement of the West Bank is the raison d’etre of Israel’s brutal military occupation, now in its fifth decade.

Nineteen Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.