Israel is a democracy and a country governed by law. We see several examples of this in recent events. First, the rioting in Beit El (House of God) over the destruction of an apartment block ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court. Second, the arrest of three Jewish militants for burning part of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes in Taghba (Ein Sheva).
Beth El is a settlement in Shomron (Samaria), part of the West Bank. It was founded in 1977 and now has a population of ca. 6,000. It has been expanding for some time and a small apartment block was recently added for 24 families. But, a Palestinian Arab brought a legal case that went to the Supreme Court claiming that he owned the land on which the apartment block was built and he had not sold it nor given permission for it to be built. Very often when Arabs claim that they own land it turns out to be based on ancient custom rather than actual specific legal claim. But, in this case the Supreme Court ruled that he did own the land and that the building was illegal and they ordered it to be razed. In pursuance of this order the Israeli border police sent in reinforcements to prevent the settlers of Beit El form stopping the razing of the building that housed 20 families.
Although there was resistance, in the end there were no injuries and the building was razed. PM Netanyahu and other politicians regretted this action, but they agreed that the law must be upheld. One right wing politician, MK Moti Yogev of the Bayit Yehudi Party, said the Supreme Court should be razed, but after being criticized by the leader of his own Party he retracted. There was a similar situation at the settlement of Sa-Nur that was also resolved peacefully. At the same time, Netanyahu announced that 300 family homes will be built in Beth El, according to a plan that has been in the works for three years. In general, the Israeli Govt. has the legal right to build in the territories, until a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians changes the status quo. Needless to say the US State Dept. and the EU criticized Netanyahu’s announcement.
However, following the demolitions at Beit El there was an attack in the Arab village of Duma where two houses were set on fire, and Hebrew graffiti was scrawled, indicating that this was a “price tag” revenge attack. Tragically a baby was killed in the attack, that has only exacerbated the conflict between the local Arabs and Jews. The Israeli Govt. has clearly stated that it views this as a terrorist attack and the perpetrators will be found and arrested and treated as terrorists. The taking of life is forbidden.
Two known Jewish militants Yehuda Asraf and Yinon Reuveni were indicted for the torching of part of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee last month. After a long and difficult investigation the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) managed to crack the case and three men have been arrested and two others are being sought. Note that I call these men “militants” rather than “terrorists” since no-one was killed or even injured in their actions. Members of the Government, including the PM and the President publicly criticized this act of desecration and it was widely condemned in Israel. The arsonists are members of a small fringe group known as “the hilltop youth,” who have been settling areas of the West Bank without permission of the authorities. While they are religious extremists and consider Christianity a form of idolatry, they have not so far attacked any persons.
Also, a crazy ultra-religious man attacked and stabbed six people at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last week. HE had done the same thing ten years before and spent the last ten years in jail. He will be tried and go back to jail for a long time. In these and many other cases Israel is a country governed by secular law and the independent courts make the legal decisions.