Some days before departure

Thursday 8 March 2012
popularity : 11%

Vaguely heard in the European news:

March 11, 2011: In Itamar, a Jewish settlement close to Nablus in the West bank, five members of a family were savagedly slaughtered. Condemnation was unanimous on the part of Israel and the international community of course, but also on the Palestinian side. Yet, without waiting for the results of the ongoing enquiry, the attack was described as terrorist and attributed to the Palestinians. . [1] Given the sophisticated protection techniques used in the settlement, it is most likely that the murderer lived in the settlement itself. The Palestinian media got wind of a dispute between the settlers and a Thai employee [2], but this lead wasn’t taken into account seriously by the investigating officers. Two young Palestinian students aged 18 and 19 were declared guilty. Knowing the way the interrogations of Palestinian prisoners are generally carried out by the Israeli authorities, there is ground for doubting the “confession” of the accused ones [3]. Soon afterwards, a collective punishment was launched against the Palestinian village of Awarta [4].

Later, we heard that in reprisal for these five murders, settlers demanded that the Israeli government allowed more houses to be built in the settlements; permits were delivered soon after for the building of 400 houses in the settlements of Ariel, Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Kyriat Sefer, blocs which Israel intends to annex in the context of a peace agreement [5].

Note: it seems that in this case, the international media in general didn’t follow the Israeli narrative blindly. This is encouraging.

More largely mentioned in the press:

March 23, 2011: A bomb exploded at a bus-stop in Jerusalem, on a line that is used by settlers. A woman was killed, 30 people were injured, three of whom seriously. There hadn’t been any bomb attacks in Jerusalem since 2004. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack which was vigorously condemned on all parts, including by Salam Fayyad (the present Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority). This action wrongs the Palestinian cause, he said. [6] Hamas denied any involvement in it and the Al Qods Brigades (Islamic Jihad) didn’t claim it either.

This attack took place within the context of Israeli artillery firing and air raids on Gaza lead by Israel since March 19 (six Palestinian civilians were killed, of whom four children. Four fighters for the Al-Qods Brigades were killed and 25 Palestinians were injured, of whom 11 children. Properties and electric infrastructures were greatly damaged.) Columnists working for the Israeli paper Haaretz [7] said that the attack could as well be a “local initiative”, an isolated act by a Palestinian. Up to now, the Israeli authorities haven’t found the culprits.

The political context: the Palestinian Authority was campaigning for the recognition of the Palestinian State. There were demonstrations in Gaza and Ramallah calling for the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas, which resulted in Mahmoud Abbas’s offering to constitude a national union government. Question: who has an interest in preventing the Palestinian State to come into being? What better way than pursuing colonisation?

Effect of these events on our troups: parents were worried. We reassured them the best we could. But eventually, one of the students stayed in Brussels.

Read on about our trip


[1See account of the facts and reactions.

[2Info-Palestine, 15 mars 2011.

[3On this subject read the articles and enquiries carried out by the Israeli associations B’tselem and AIC.

[4Haaretz, Amira Hass, whose article could only be published on April 20, 2011.

[5Blog Guerre ou Paix.

[6See account of the attack and of the reactions.

[724/03/2011