Axe-wielding Palestinian kills Israeli teen

BAT AYIN, West Bank (AFP) - An axe-wielding Palestinian man rampaged through a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, killing a 13-year-old Israeli boy and wounding a seven-year-old, medics said.

Israel's hawkish new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly condemned the attack, warning through a spokesman that his government would have a "zero tolerance policy" towards such acts and urging Palestinians to do the same.

The perpetrator fled after attacking the two boys at Bat Ayin, southwest of Bethlehem, one of the West Bank's most radical settlements, shortly after midday, witnesses said.

The army was conducting a massive search in the area and residents of other settlements in the area were instructed to stay indoors, radio and television reported.

The boy killed was named as Shlomo Nativ, whose parents were among the founders of the settlement in 1989. His funeral was to take place later on Thursday.

The wounded seven-year-old was Yair Gamliel, the son of Ofer Gamliel who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for participating in a foiled attack on a Palestinian girls school in Jerusalem in 2002, media said.

"I was near the settlement offices when I saw a Palestinian with an axe running toward me," Avinoam, a witness to the attack, told Israeli television.

"I managed to block his arm, we fell to the ground and struggled but he managed to run away.

"I called for help, another resident fired at him, but missed. When I got up, I saw a child wounded in the head. I cried to warn his mother, who ran toward him," he said.

Bat Ayin is one of the most radical settlements in the occupied West Bank. Most of its fewer than 1,000 residents are hardline settlers who normally prevent Palestinians from entering the settlement boundaries.

In a phone call to AFP and a statement released to media in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad and the Imad Mughniyeh Group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was "a natural response to the crimes of the occupation."

In a statement in Gaza, Islamic Jihad hailed the attack, but denied it was responsible.

The Imad Mughniyeh Group is named after a Hezbollah commander who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in a February 2008 attack that was blamed on but denied by Israel.

It also claimed responsibility for the last deadly Palestinian attack in the West Bank, when two policemen were shot dead on March 15 near the settlement of Massua in the northern Jordan Valley.

The election of Netanyahu, who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state, has sparked widespread concern among Palestinians and the international community for the future of the troubled peace process.

"The new Israeli government will have a zero tolerance policy toward these sort of terrorist attacks and refuses to accept them as routine," Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told AFP.

"The Palestinian government must both in word and in deed also have a zero tolerance policy to demonstrate its commitment to peace and reconciliation."

In a statement Thursday, Michael Ben Ari of the far-right pro-settler National Union party, said the attack was a consequence of Israel taking down some roadblocks in the occupied Palestinian territory.

"We warned that the easing of the roadblocks will bring catastrophe," he said.

Israel has more than 500 roadblocks in the West Bank, with the barriers severely limiting the freedom of movement in the territory home to 2.4 million Palestinians.

An MP with the party of firebrand Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, David Rotem, told Israeli television that "if it's necessary to assure the security of Israelis, we will increase the number of roadblocks" in the West Bank.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are home to an estimated more than 280,000 people, have been one of the main sticking points in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are considered illegal by the international community.

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My condolences to the child and his parents he was still young and hasnt seen much of life.

Instead of stupid warnings, a 1000 settlers should be removed to a safe place inside Israel and that way their safety will be ensured, or otherwise its residents can stay there but on a palestinian land not an occuppied land.

What a nonsense is it to talk about increasing blockadges so a 1000 people will live happily preventing a 2.5 million from having a normal life?
Hiba, they live in the Etzion bloc, land that was purchased in 1930 by a man called Holzman. You may as well be saying "move all the people in Gaza to a safe place in Egypt then there won't be any violence". Surely these people have the same right to be on their land without fear of being murdered as any Palestinian has. Is it your view, Hiba, that Arab areas must be ethnically cleansed of all Jews, but that Arabs should have the right to live in Israel? Is this not a double standard? If Jews were attacking Arabs in Israel, would you then be saying "move those Arabs to a safe Arab environment, then there won't be any violence"? I would be condemning the attackers and demanding that they be stopped ... in all cases.

98% of the Arab population of the West Bank lives under PA rule. If the PA controlled the lawlessness there would be no blockades ... as there were none before the terrorists started killing Israeli children. There is cause and effect here. This man with the axe is the cause, the effect is more protection. To a lesser degree it's the same for all of us. I used to just get on a plane, now I have to spend hours going through security checks as a protection against terrorism. I am no terrorist, but that makes no difference to the authorities who are trying to protect us, I still wait for hours.
Basil ,

as Jordan redrew from owning the WB territories and Egypt the Gaza territories we have problem to claim that this is occupied as there is no state that owned it, and this is part of the problem.

It do think that the Palestinians need to have a state of their own and that state can be in the WB+GAZA, in future when our economic-social parameters will be more equal, and no palestinian will feel occupied we may have one political system to share all the resources of the land. this is not because International law, it is because of what we see as human right to freedom and equality.
Basil, I don't disagree with the Geneva conventions, I'm just stating the obvious, that, by definition, they don't apply. Even if they did apply, they specifically speak of "the occupying power tranferring populations". Israel did no such thing. Settlers made the choice to reclaim land that had been illegally taken (by your own definitions) in 1948.

I think, Basil, you need to look up Ottoman land laws (which still apply) before we have the conversation about the recognition of rights to land. But in brief, Israel recognises all private title to land ownership, and Israel's courts will compensate anyboy who produces such record of title. I think, Basil, that your problem may lie in the definitions of Ottoman state lands. There were (and still are) three levels. The first is outright state land. The second is leased state land, for which people paid rental. The third, and I think the one that sits at the crux of all the problems, is called "miri" land, an equivalent of the feudal "freehold", in which people could freely work state land, even will it to their children to work, but could neither sell it, nor leave it. That would define it as "abandoned" and it would revert to its owners, the state. I can understand how Palestinians who may have worked miri land for generations might consider they owned it, but after 1948, that land belonged to Israel. Less than 4% of the land that became Israel was privately titled to local Arabs, and today 3.3% still is.

Basil, I'm not here to argue the Geneva conventions. The fact that there are currently moves under way to try to have it applied to the West Bank and Gaza is the absolute proof that they simply don't apply. The definitions of the conventions are clear. They relate to issues between two signatories, between a signatory and a non-signatory state ... but nowhere do they include an undefined territory whose ownership has yet to be established.

Whilst Israel has indicated preparedness to cede claims to these terroitories in return for the peaceful acceptance of the Jewish state (something that hasn't happened), it doesn't change that Israel has a powerful claim to this territory. I keep saying it Basil, it will all be resolved when this territory is finally allocated ... whether that's to the Palestinians in the wake of a peace deal, or failing that, the Jordanians if the world loses patience, only time will tell.

The problem remains (and may well be insoluble) that every part of the Palestinian leadership still seeks to destroy Israel ... a world away from the acceptance that a peace deal requires.
Dear Sami,

we all know the past, but the reality is that we all wish better future

Any such act create a wave in the Israeli psych that bring more people to believe that all palestinians are wishing war and killing, this is how the Israel right wing government base - palestinian attacks against Israelis.

If we wish a future that respect all of us, and secure the future of all children we need to work together defeating the settlers and the "aggressors" of both sides.

If you support such acts, you can understand as people like you in Israel support the settlers ... and the end of it is more and more killing.
In the future, Hamas palestinians fighters and settlers are part of the population of here. they both believe that their good love them more then he/she loves the other side ... guess what, I think God love us all.

As I agree with you that the settlements need to be removed, I do not think that such acts really bring that change. as Israeli i see how such acts bring Israelis to be more aggressive and justify more settlements.

We need Israel decision to remove the settlements and this cannot come without Palestinians to have one political system that can prevent violence.

our problem is that people think it is negotiation that we need to do, while it is not negotiation rather capacity building in Palestine and post-Zionist ideas building in Israel.
we need to recognized that the ZIonist movement ended its rule and Israel and Palestine as states need to serve all the population in a way that bring stability, freedom and security.

while such acts exist, and voices supporting it as yours follow that acts, it make such change in Israel very hard to develop.

if you wish to be as the Zionists and think only from the Palestinians perspective, as the Zionists were thinking only from the Jewish perspective then you will bring same kind of hardship the Zionists brought.

I think that settlement movement in Israel is the worse thing Israelis can do to others and to themselves.

I also think that the "international law" is not practical tool to bring change, and if any Palestinians think that Iran, Russia or USA will do what USA did in IRAQ when the leadership was in the hands of Sadam Husain he or she is going to wait for that for ever. killing children by Axe will not make it happened.

I understand what Sami saying and agree that we need to be careful not to accept the phenomena of occupation and settlements, but I think we also need to recognized that the Jews and the Israeli state is here to stay, so we need to find ways to support Palestinians development and not Israel destruction.

I think that Sami can recognize that calling for destruction of Israel is not as hard as destroying Israel and the Palestinians pay in children blood for trying to do so. while Building Palestine is hard task too, but it contain the future of the palestinians and their ability to have good education system, health care, economic and freedom to be equal to any other person on our planet.
Basil, the problem with what you say lies in the fact that this particular territory remains undefined in terms of ownership since WW1, that is the reason it cannot be considered "occupied". The bulk of the land is still legally "defunct Ottoman state land" titled to nobody. I realise that you would like to consider it to be legally like France when Germany occupied it, but it simply isn't. Even if we were to consider it so, then that presents the argument of the Jews who were forcibly removed from the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1948. Would the same principles not apply to them? Would that "moving of populations" not be a breach of the conventions, and those lands "acquired through war"? And would this not make any settlements on Jewish owned land perfectly legal, being simply a return of population to the land they owned which had been illegally acquired? Ultimately it was acquired by Jordan and Egypt who have since relinquished claim to it ... does that mean that it now reverts to its original owners who hold title to it?

It is a complex kettle of fish that will only be resolved through a negotiated peace settlement. Till then you will find arguments on both sides. Even if we were to call it an "occupation" it is by definition a perfectly legal one that can only be resolved through negotiation. I think that's something we will always come back to.
Mick, from your reply I can tell that you read the 1st 2 lines of my reply and then responded, I also said that they can stay where they live but on a Palestinian land and not on an occupied land, they can stay but their presence shouldnt create hard conditions for around 2.5 Million Palestinians to live there.

The Jews didnt buy the lands of 1948 and no one is telling them to move, I didnt make a mistake or any double standard view when asked to remove occupation and create a state for us.
Mick stated: "98% of the Arab population of the West Bank lives under PA rule. If the PA controlled the lawlessness there would be no blockades ... as there were none before the terrorists started killing Israeli children"

This is simply false on all aspects mentioned.
1) We Palestinians live under Israeli rule. We do not live under Palestinian rule. The so called Palestinain authority has no authority. Even moving around the West Bank is controlled by Israel. This is also true of coming in and out of the West Bank. All family and civil matters are by Israel (no child for example can be registered as born here if the Israeli interior ministry does not give a green light). . All laws on buildings, movement, security etc are controlled by Israel. All natural resources (85% of teh water under our feet is allocated to Israeli use) and on and on.

2) Considering this situation and that the sole function of the PA was designed to be subcontractors to stifle resistance, they have actually done a great job at that main function. They did a far better job than Israel did. There were lots more attacks when Israel did not subcontract the oppression.

3) The blockade and destruction of Palestinian society started November 30, 1947 and continued for teh past 62 years. I repeat November 30, 1947 right after the UN partition resolution when Hagannah, Irgun, and Stern gangs started ethnically cleansing Palestine. Nearly six months went by and half the Palestinain refugees were created before the Arab armies entered Palestine to try (in vain) to restore order and stop the ethnic cleansing. IN 1949-1950, a blockade on the remaining Palestinain populations near Al Majdal and Iraq anl Manshiya was implemented until the starving population agreed to sign papers of "voluntary transfer to Gaza". A little history reveiw might be appropriate here. For example the blockade and wall around gaza was done before a signle suicide bombing happened. The restriction on movement in teh West Bank also started when Israel ruled it and before a single suicide bombing happened.
Mazin, what you say is just too weird for me to discuss. Let me just say, that if Jewish groups had indeed "ethnically cleansed Palestine" then there would not be a single Arab there, as happened to the Jews of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. That, Mazin, is "ethnic cleansing", where not a soilitary person remained.
I would like to hear from you Mick about my respond?



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