December 18, 2000: Shooting in West Bank

On this day in 2000 Jewish ‘settlers’ opened fire on a school near Nablus, killing one student and wounding two.

HAWWARAH, OCCUPIED TERRITORIES – While the vast majority of terrorist incidents in the disputed West Bank have been directed against Israelis, not all have.

We hear a lot about terrorism in the modern State of Israel. That nation was born in a paroxysm of violence in 1948 and never seems to be far away from more. The enmity in which the country saw the light of say continues to this day among some neighbouring states, the recent spate of diplomatic openings notwithstanding.

Of all the casi belli that underpin violence and terrorism in Israel none are as important as the status of Gaza and the West Bank. It is not for nothing that these are still referred to in polite company as the Occupied Territories. Whatever side you are on, pro- or anti-Israeli, you have to accept that any people subjected to the whims of another state is going to rankle.

The number of incidents that have taken place in this area would constitute a very, very long list. Most of them are carried out by Palestinian terrorists who target Israeli civilians who have established settlements there. Fewer have gone the other way, i.e. ‘settler’ terrorists killing Palestinians. Today’s featured attack is one of the latter.

On this day in 2000

Jewish settlers shot and killed 17-year old Muhammad Shalash as he and a group of friends walked toward a road that is used by both Palestinians and Jewish settlers. One gunman apparently feared that the young Palestinians were going to damage his vehicle.

He thought we were going to throw stones at him, so he stopped and got out with his gun. We ran away; he chased us and fired four shots.

Shalash’ cousin

Alerted by the army, the Israeli police arrested the two settlers. Supporters claimed that they acted in self-defence saying that the stones were being thrown with an aim to kill and therefore, since they didn’t have army protection, they had no choice but to shoot.

Villagers had little faith that the settlers would be prosecuted or punished for the shooting in light of a similar case where a Palestinian who was picking olives was shot and killed by settlers in the West Bank several weeks ago and the two suspects were arrested but then released for lack of evidence. ”They are hunters,” Mr. Shalash’s uncle said. ”They go into jail through one door and out the other.”.

I am normally a glass-half-full kinda guy. That nature does not extend to whatever may transpire in Palestine, or rather what is left of it.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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