A Country of Law

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.



5 thoughts on “A Country of Law

  1. There is usually not much point in responding to your blog. This time, however, it is necessary because recent INTERNAL events in Israel threaten the very existence of the country. We have arrived at the moment of truth and no amount of timidity, political rhetoric or apologetic defense of the Government will suffice. Extremism, Jewish extremism, is no different than the extremism of our enemies and MUST be treated in the same way. The Jewish extremists are our enemy.



    • I agree. All terrorism that takes innocent lives is unacceptable. But, let’s be clear, the religious right itself is not responsible for these murders, only a small group of fanatics. Just as all Palestinians are not responsible for the murder of Israelis, although most of them support terrorism, unlike the Jewish population.


  2. You’re commended for initiating a conversation about Israel being a country of law, the destruction of illegally built settlements, and especially the killing of a little boy. In case you didn’t know, Ali Dawabashe was the name of the Palestinian boy that was burned to death in the Israeli “terrorist” attack.

    The attack was apparently initiated by extremist Jewish groups that denounce the government’s attempt to restrict or limit building Jewish settlements. The Israeli government has called it a “terrorist” attack and according to popular media outlets, the term “terrorist” used by Israel stems not from its severe reaction to the atrocity but from its purpose to deflect international outrage. It’s similar to a metaphorical idiom or red herring for an obvious problem that no one wants to discuss, namely Jewish settlements in occupied lands.

    I can understand why the country of law would avoid bringing attention to settlements because it has a problem with international law, and specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Convention states that relative to the protection of civilians in time of war, an occupying power is not allowed to transfer its citizens into occupied areas. Furthermore, an occupying army is entrusted with protecting the civilian population; therefore, any war crimes committed against the civilian population fall under the responsibility of the occupying officers. Luckily, Israel does investigate these crimes against its occupied civilian population.

    According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization based in Israel, it published statistics based on its monitoring of 1,045 files opened by the various units of the Samaria & Judea (SJ) District Police following complaints filed by Palestinians (Israel calls these Palestinian occupied areas by their biblical references). Between 2005 and 2014, a mere 7.4 percent of investigation files led to indictments of Israeli civilians suspected of attacking Palestinians and their property.

    “Yesh Din’s examination of grounds provided for the closure of the files by the Samaria & Judea District Police reveals that 85.2 percent of the police files concluded were closed due to the police’s failure to investigate properly. The vast majority (788 of the 1045 investigative files) were closed due to the investigators’ failure to locate offenders or collect sufficient evidence for prosecution.” Israel might have a problem with its investigative techniques in that there is either wide spread corruption and collusion or a universal incompetency.

    Thus, a country of law that has a seven percent indictment rate of crimes against the people it occupies and ignores the Geneva Convention doesn’t really behave like a country of law.


    • You are entitled to your opinion, but your basic assumptions are wrong. First Israel does not “occupy” Judea and Samara, it is there by right of international law. There has been no change of status of this area called the West Bank since before the British Mandate and it has never been under any Arab or Palestinian sovereignty. Second, the Israeli Govt. has called these attacks “terrorist” acts precisely so that they can be treated the same as any other of the many terrorist acts committed daily by the Palestinian Arabs on Israelis. In future please try to keep your comments short, they are not supposed to be an excuse for a full essay.


  3. Dear Jack:
    You are right, Israel is a nation ruled by laws, and not by people. In the Middle East neighborhood, ruled by a bunch of military despots and theocratic thugs, it is refreshing to see. In a recent speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he pointed out that the US is nation ruled by laws, and mentioned Israel as well, and when his term of office is up, he will be constitutionally barred from staying in office.
    Israeli laws also caught up with former PM Ehud Olmert, though I doubt if his job in prison is embossing license plates…
    Occasionally, folks misuse the laws. The case of Samuel Sheinbein is a classic case of a family misusing laws to protect the misdeeds of their progeny. May he rot where he is…
    As far as the differences between the terms “militants” and “terrorists”, and Ronald Reagan’s euphemistic “freedom fighters”, there are very few differences — only a minor difference of one’s viewpoint…

    ~ Ron


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