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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It is easy for us to recognize what is wrong with people who experience reality different then us. as different world view becomes emotional reaction we may experience the hard terms Mazin use, which I do not like as well.

But the hard task is to see reality from the perspective of the Palestinians, and while the Holocaust supply a strong symbol for supporting the existence of Jewish state, it is also play strongly in the world view of palestinians as core that motivated the Zionist movement and brought the Naqba to millions of Palestinian Arabs.

from that perspective I can see the experience of humiliation when some group of people start to emigrate into your ancestor land and change the whole reality in such a way that you live your life in a "national prison style" need to be checked daily in checkpoints and have to live in economically deprived life conditions. .

SO you can go and fight Mazin words, their sting is painful and you can also recognize and respect the pain that drive them out of his keyboard, pane over the waste of productive happy life to so many people who were just born in the "other side" of the boarders.

Read also Hiba remarks, I find a lot of wisdom and honesty in them, the Palestinian mind is much open then when we expected in Israel ... beside all this killing a new conscious emerge and we need to connect to it instead of criticizing Palestinians to use bad words about Israel.
Let me add to the analogies of Basil something taht Mick might understand better. Imagine if someone had said that a genocide/holocaust did not happen in Europe because afterall there are many Millions of European Jews and Gypsis still around!! Such denial would be rightly condemned. Nakba denial is equally atrocious IMHO. Now, on teh issue of land ownership etc, there are plenty of documents about who owns what lands in Palestine/Israel. I would be very thrilled if Israeli racist Zionists would agree to an independent group to come and look at all land deeds and for all illegal colonial settlers to vacate Arab owned lands and properties whether in Jaffa, Haifa, Deir Yasin or East Jerusalem and VICE VERSA!! Actually we have studies of estimated worth of stolen property from Palestinains at $4 Trillion.
Basil, perhaps we differ on the definition of "ethnic cleansing". My understanding is that it means totally removing a population of a certain ehtnic background. Note that Jews were entirely removed from Hebron, from the West Bank, from Gaza, from East Jerusalem ... now that's ethnic cleansing. If tried unsuccessfully it is an attempt at ethnic cleansing. Israel's Declaration of Independence, broadcast throughout Israel the day it was declared a state, in the middle of the 1948 war, begging Arab residents to stay, puts a spanner into the theory of "ethnic cleansing". Had Israel really wanted every Arab out of there, do you believe for one second that they would not all be gone? That is the only point I was making.

It undoubtedly suits some people to play the "ethnic cleansing" carde in order to demonise Israel. Perhaps it's worth taking a closer look at exactly how Israel finished up with an Arab population of 1.5million, all equal citizens under the law, and with Arabic as a national language. It is certainly inconsistent with a hatred that would prompt "ethnic cleansing". That is what the Holocaust and Bosnia were about, as was Rhawanda, and now Darfur, with millions being killed in order to ensure they ceased to exist.

The strangest thing about this "ethnic cleansing" is the both the Arab population of Israel and the territories is growing in leaps and bounds. Perhaps we should call it "negative ethnic cleansing"
Basil, I tend to agree with Neri, that these legal debates won't ultimately bring peace, but am also heartened that Israel applies the humanitarian princilples of the Geneva conventions within the limits of the guidelines, as set out in the document. As to the document itself (which I've read before), I checked your link. It cites conflicting legal opinion, but has no legal standing itself. Right from the preamble it is clearly misrepresented, and you don't need to be a legal eagle to see it. It cites Article 2 of the convention ""The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance." (from Article 2)

If this commitee can so blatantly ignore "the territory of a High Contracting Party" in attempting to make a case, I fail to see how you find any of it valid. High Contracting Parties are the original signatories, and article 2 deals with their land. So whose land are we talking about in applying the conventions to the West Bank and Gaza? Certainly not any High Contracting Party, nor anybody else that the conventions define (non-signatory states). The commitee is desparately attempting to apply something that simply doesn't. Even the legal experts they produce tend to concurr, and make the point that Israel's obligations should be considered in the humanitarion context of the conventions, rather than the legal contract context ... something that Israel does voluntarily anyway.
Let's leave it Basil, you and I won't be deciding where the Geneva Conventions apply, there are bigger legal minds for that. Perhaps it would be more fruitful to discuss how peace can happen.
"The main point of agreement between the PA and Israel is that UN 242 and 338 should be applied and that if any territory of the West Bank is something Israel gets then an equivalent amount of territory would be given from the 1948 lands."

I am sorry to dissagree with you Basil but Israel never agreed to the principle you state. International law is indeed clear about the need for Israel to withdraw from all the areas occupied in 1967 (inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force). Internatuional law actually does not recognize Israel's rule over the pre-1967 areas (afterall the only possible legitimacy, flimsy as that maybe, is the partition resolution of 1947 which 55% of Palestine not 78% for an Israeli state). The Fateh position since 1988 has been based on having a Palestinain sovereign state in the 22% that is the WB&Gaza. These people are willing to have exchange of land as long as it is the same quality and quantity. Istrael has never accepted that, ie. never accepted to live on 78% of the land with minor adjustiments based on same quality/quantity. Israel will never agree to that since they now have the best most productive lands in teh West Bank plus 85% of the water resources. A one state solution is actually far more likely than a two state solution and has been what is being made here all the time.
What you describe is the sad core of where Negotiation poison the ability of the two sides to go o the next step, negotiation create the tension, while any reasonable leader in the sense that he has the leadership we need will know that we need not to have a solution that feet the needs of the population to get equal opportunity,safty and dignity no matter which side he/she is.

the negotiation that is done for some time is around who gets more from the "palestinian pie" G-D made us share. this is why we stuck where the Israelis make settlements and Hamas is sending 2.5K bombs on civilians. each side try to increase the cost for getting peace so it make it harder for the other side to gets what it needs.

I met these people, and as much as they are sharp and know the game of negotiation and how the feed the public-consciousness with the messages that make the price greater most of them fail to see that their rule is done, we need to stop negotiating and get our act together to build a partnership base on human needs and development plans for Palestine and Israel.
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 10:47 08/04/2009
11 hurt as Palestinians, Bat Ayin settlers clash
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters

At least 11 people were wounded on Wednesday during clashes between dozens of settlers from a settlement where a terrorist killed an Israeli teenager last week and Palestinians in a nearby West Bank village.

Ten Palestinians were wounded in the incident near the settlement of Bat Ayin, one seriously, and one Israeli was lightly hurt.

The violence erupted when a group of settler youths began throwing stones at Palestinians on the outskirts of the village of Safa. The settlers had earlier left a prayer service held on a nearby hilltop in memory of Shlomo Nativ, 16, who was killed by an axe-wielding Palestinian on Thursday.

Live fire was discharged during the ensuing clash. It was not immediately clear whether the shots came from settlers or Israel Defense Forces troops who had rushed to the scene to disperse the crowd.

In the attack on Thursday, the terrorist also wounded a 7-year-old boy. A local man fought the terrorist and managed to pry the ax away from him, but the assailant, whose identity remains unknown, managed to escape and has not been caught.

Some 1,000 Israelis live in Bat Ayin, near the Palestinian towns of Hebron and Bethlehem.

In 2002, three settlers from Bat Ayin were sentenced by an Israeli court to prison terms ranging from 12 to 15 years for trying to set off a bomb near a Palestinian girls' school in Arab East Jerusalem.

The wounded seven-year-old boy is a son of one of the three jailed settlers.
Before the settlers went on teh rampage in the village, the Israeli army already had closed off Saffra, took over building etc so they oversaw th recent pogrom

From the ISM

Israeli forces impose collective punishment on Saffa villagefollowing attack on settler youth 2 April 2008 Israeli forces imposed collective punishment on the village of Saffa,following an axe attack in a nearby settlement that left a Settlerchild dead and another injured. At around 1:30pm, dozens of soldiersentered the village, declaring a 24-hour curfew and preventingresidents from leaving their homes. Israeli authorities have said thatthe military operation was in response to the attack on the settlerchildren, which occurred in the settlement of Bet Ayn, locatedadjacent to Saffa. However, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibitsacts of collective punishment against civilian populations. After the curfew was declared in Saffa, Israeli forces beganconducting several house-to-house searches. Hundreds of men, and boysover the age of 15, were forced into the village mosque where theywere questioned by Israeli intelligence officers and had their IDcards checked. At this time, at least three villagers were placed under formal arrest and taken away in army jeeps. Several of the men detained in the mosque also had parts of theiridentification papers confiscated by soldiers, who never returned thedocuments. Israeli jeeps periodically drove through Saffa and thenearby village of Beit Omar, firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Dozens of Palestinian youth resisted the army incursion, at timesresponding to the invasion by throwing stones at the jeeps. The army also took up position in three village residences, in twocases forcing their inhabitants to leave the house altogether withouttheir possessions. Israeli flags were planted on the roofs of thesehouses. Several interiors of houses were damaged during the housesearches. Soldiers occupying the houses told residents that they werepositioning themselves in the village to protect Saffa from settlerreprisals. Yet the curfew, road closures, arrests, house occupations,and military presence were clearly meant to punish the entire villagefor what happened to the two settler boys. The Israeli army also used military bulldozers to close the roadsleading into Saffa in at least three places.

The villages of Beit Omarand Surif also experienced closures on their main roads in the form ofearth mounds. The military gate at the entrance to Beit Omar remainedclosed for more than 24 hours. The closing of roads in these threevillages affected around 30,000 residents. Additionally, several hoursafter the attack on the settlement, a checkpoint was installed on themain road between Bethlehem and Hebron, just in front of the villageof Halhul. Traffic quickly backed up as hundreds of cars had toundergo security checks. On the following day of 3 April, a large military presence stillremained in Saffa, and most roads in the area continue to be closed.At around 9am, villagers removed an army earth mound between Beit Omarand Saffa. The army returned to build the roadblock again, only toclear the road a few hours later and build a new roadblock on anotherstreet. All three houses continued to be occupied by soldiers, thoughthe residents who have been forced to leave their homes have beenallowed to retrieve some of their personal belongings. Two taxidrivers in Beit Omar also had the keys to their cars taken by themilitary and not returned.




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