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Israel Prosecutes Radical Settlers, Reaffirms Sovereignty

In June 1948, David Ben-Gurion, prime minister of the fledgling state of Israel, ordered the sinking of his own countrymen’s ship. The vessel, Altalena, was carrying weapons to arm the Irgun, a Revisionist Zionist militia led by the far-right Menachem Begin. Ben-Gurion understood that a sovereign state could not countenance an independent fighting force acting outside the state’s control.

His decisive action against the Altalena cemented the sovereignty of modern Israel and the rule of law within its borders. The Irgun was eventually folded into the Israel Defense Forces and Begin, in one of history’s ironies, went on to become the Israeli prime minister who forged peace with Egypt.

Now a radical fringe Israeli settler movement is harassing its neighbors, both Palestinian and Israeli alike in response to the Israeli’s government’s efforts to dismantle illegal West Bank ouposts and it seems as if Israel has decided that the time has come to reassert Ben-Gurion’s principle. This week’s prosecution of five Israeli settlers, reported in the New York Times, is a good start:

Israeli prosecutors on Sunday charged five radical Jewish settlers with tracking troop movements in the West Bank and organizing a raid on an Israeli Army base there last month.

The indictment was the first sign of a promised crackdown on settlers whose increasingly provocative actions have been described by some Israeli officials as homegrown terrorism…

They were charged with, among other things, operating a hot line to collect reports on troop and police movements in the West Bank, distributing the information and calling on supporters to be at specific locations to thwart attempts by Israeli forces to evacuate outposts.

In the coming days, Israel must be sure to deal similarly with the radicals who attack their Palestinian neighbors. It is a difficult but morally and politically necessary step.

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  • Toni

    For the radicals to take on an Israeli military that has defeated Arab armies four times — and police on daily guard against Arab terrorism — seems to me a form of madness. Maybe in both senses, anger and insanity.

  • carl gabino

    Things are not so simple as presented in the article. The Israei poice arrested and harrased scores of jewish citizens over the last years- but never found the alleged attackersof arabs. This is a poliical conflict, not a leagal one.

  • Kris

    Toni@1, they are not exactly “taking on” the military. The phrase “organizing a raid on an Israeli Army base” is later on explained as “broke in, rioted, blocked the entrance with rocks and burning tires, and damaged military vehicles.” In other words, typical OWS behavior. Occupy West Bank 🙂 . This is much more an illegal demonstration than the rebellion a first reading might suggest.

  • Luke Lea

    Absolutely essential for Israel’s public image. Settlers have also been attacking random Palestinian civilians and Israeli activists.

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