March 2, 2024
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March 2, 2024
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Adei Ad: Flashpoint for Continuing Confrontations

Adei Ad–Tensions are running higher among both Israelis and West Bank Arabs since last Friday as West Bank residents demanded American diplomats’ deportation in response to American security forces allegedly pointing guns at Israelis. There was alleged vandalism of Arab-owned land by Israelis and rock throwing at American diplomats. The security guards accompanying the diplomats are accused of drawing their weapons. At press time, it was unclear what the consequences would be. Thrown rocks have killed people, and rock-throwing is considered dangerous by Israelis when committed by Arabs. The State Department said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about the incident and there has so far been no comment from PM Netanyhu.

Adei Ad, near the northeast corner of Ramallah, the “capital” of the West Bank, is in an area known as Shilo, established by yeshiva students on privately owned Arab land in 1998. The following year, Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the town dismantled. In 2003, the High Court of Justice ruled that the settlement was on Israeli land, but the Israeli government stated the settlers had no right to build there. Since then, the area has not been a stranger to violence.

Beset by thievery, destruction of crops and surprise attacks by their Arab neighbors, the Israelis retaliate in kind. The settlers have also initiated violence and have thrown rocks at IDF forces while they carried out orders to promote the dismantling of the settlement.

Proximate to Adei Ad is the Arab village of Turmus Ayya, whose villagers, some with US citizenship, alleged that last Thursday Adei Ad settlers uprooted about 5,000 olive tree saplings out of a grove of 8,000, breaking their roots to prevent replanting. One of the owners of the land, Awad Abu Samra, said the vandalism took place over the course of a week. He speculated to the Muslim News that the goal was “to ensure that Palestinian farmers are unable to plant in the area, further disenfranchising them and, thus, forcing them to leave the land, opening it to confiscation by settlers.”

Last Friday, at the behest of American Palestinians, two cars carrying American diplomats and Palestinians entered Turmus Ayya, to witness the damage to the olive groves. They waited in the village while American security guards checked the area for safety risks to the American delegation. The delegation was then allegedly attacked by settlers, who threw rocks, damaging a window in one vehicle. Reports vary from anywhere from just two rocks to what was called “pelting.” Then settlers alleged that the security guards pulled out their weapons–a pistol and an M-16 rifle.

It is established policy when settlers need to cross into Palestinian areas or Palestinians need to enter Israeli land, that such ‘visits’ are coordinated with Israeli officials. Settlers claimed that contrary to policy, they had not been warned of the visit or told Palestinians would be escorted into their settlement. In fact, such a visit had been coordinated with the Israeli Civil Administration for later this week. This one was unexpected.

According to a State Department spokesman no one was hurt, “We can confirm a vehicle from the Consulate General was pelted with stones and confronted by a group of armed colonists (last Friday) in the West Bank, near the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya. Our personnel were in the area looking into reports that (settlers) had uprooted some 5,000 olive tree saplings in that area in recent days.”

Despite the fact that the expedition was made at the behest of Palestinians claiming US citizenship, and US personnel did not request permission of Israeli authorities to bring weapons into the area and did not inform Israel of their intent.

Despite numerous phone calls to the State Department, legislators in Washington and other sources, no explanation has been given as to why the US would involve itself in this particular incident at this time–when mutual attacks and vandalism have been going on since 1998.

The State Department said, “The Israeli authorities have also communicated to us that they acknowledge the seriousness of the incident and are looking to apprehend and take appropriate action against those responsible.”

An Israeli Police spokeswoman confirmed that the US diplomats’ trip had not been coordinated with the IDF. “According to initial findings, colonists threw stones at the US consular vehicles near the Adei Ad illegal (colony), close to the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya,” she said.

However, on Saturday evening, the American embassy in Israel denied that Americans drew arms on the Israeli settlers.

A spokesperson from the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told JLNJ in response to the allegation that Jewish settlers yanked out 5,000 olive trees belonging to Palestinians, “The Coordination and Liaison regional office of the Civil Administration was contacted by the Palestinians and coordinated for them to arrive at the police office in the region to file a complaint this Sunday. The incident will be investigated by the police.”

One news report stated that “the American consulate in Jerusalem has offered to pass Israel a video of the event, in which they claim it is clear that a group of armed settlers surrounded the American delegation, [which was] armed with a gun and an M-16 rifle,” but added that “No consulate employee drew their arms during the incident. Reports claiming as much are simply wrong.”

With Samaria Regional Council Head Gershon Mesika sidelined by corruption charges, Yossi Dagan, his temporary replacement, demanded that Likud Interior Minister Gilad Erdan immediately deport the American Consulate staff members in the convoy and claimed they were spies. “As Wikileaks revealed a number of years ago, the ‘officials’ are in fact spies and intelligence officials. This time they have participated in a proactive tour together with Palestinians, without properly coordinating with the army or police. …They pulled firearms and threatened Israeli citizens. This crosses a red line and it is nothing short of a miracle the event didn’t end in bloodshed. I request the security guards and spies be expelled from Israel in light of their behavior.”

“This event could have descended easily into bloodshed and only as a result of the settlers’ responsible behavior was [a scenario like that] prevented,” Arutz 7 quoted Dagan as saying.

The behavior of both sides of the conflict has been long documented but has gained in violence and scope in recent years. The 2013 report by the US State Department on terrorism talks about ‘price tag attacks’ by Israeli extremists. They also wrote that:

“The Israeli government formed a new unit of the national police designated specifically to investigate these crimes in both Israel and the West Bank.”

They also wrote: “Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted according to UN and NGO sources. The UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.”

Though there are reports by individual settlers from Adei Ad on attacks, thievery, destruction, vandalism and brutality on members of their community by the Palestinians, these have not been included in the UN or US State Department reports.

By Anne Phyllis Pinzow

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