According to an Israeli source, the IDF and Shabak made a major arrest yesterday in the Palestinian village of Awarta of three residents suspected of involvement in the Itamar murders of five members of the Fogel family. This is connected to, but in addition to the arrest of well over 100 residents of the village, including 100 women alone, in an attempt to smoke out those responsible. Further, Israeli media are reporting (Hebrew and in English) a coordinated campaign of pogrom-like activity involving destruction of home furnishings and ransacking of entire homes by the security forces.
This from Ynetnews:
Yaakov Manor, a left-wing activist who visited the village on Sunday, recounted one such raid in a Palestinian home.”The soldiers entered rooms and broke furniture, broke a washing machine belonging to the family and a refrigerator as well. The soldiers tipped over oil containers and broke closets,” he said.
Road-blocks prevent access to the village via roads or highways. Some village lands have been “requisitioned” by the military and transferred to surrounding settlements in further acts of collective punishment which are forbidden by international law.
The only thing we have to be thankful for is that the three suspects, whose identity isn’t yet known to me as the detention is under gag order, weren’t summarily executed as is common in such situations. The likely reason for this is that these detainees may possess knowledge that would lead to others involved in the attack. It isn’t helpful to an investigation to murder suspects who can lead you to the bigger fish. I’m also guessing that in light of the bonanza of pro-Israel hasbara generated by the Goldstone revelations, it wouldn’t exactly look good for Israel to continue behavior that was excoriated in the original Gaza war human rights inquiry chaired by the judge.
Another indication of major sensitivity on the part of the Israeli censor regarding activities in Awarta is the removal of an eye-witness account by Israeli human rights activist Hagit Back of her visit to the village. And in a further indication of the capriciousness of censorship her article is available in full (in Hebrew) and uncensored here.
Other Israeli media reports have noted vaguely the existence of a gag and the increasing urgency and intensity of the investigation (Hebrew) into the murders, leading a reader to expect that such arrests and possible resolution of the case might be imminent.
This article first appeared at Tikun Olam