When you and your friends and family are implacably convinced that you know God’s will beyond question, you can do some evil things:
On a hilltop, blankets, pots and broken chairs are strewn where the Israeli army tried to demolish an illegal Jewish settlement outpost. In the fields opposite, 70 olive trees are scorched and blackened after the settlers took revenge — not on the army, but on the local Palestinians.
It is a new and effective settler tactic known as the “price tag”: if the Government sends police or soldiers to dismantle an outpost that is being built, the settlers make the Palestinian population pay the price.
“It’s quite simple and smart but evil,” said Michael Sfard, a lawyer with the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din. “They attack Palestinian property, people, and blockade roads every time the Israeli security forces do something they don’t like” — such as demolish outposts.
Many settlers in the West Bank are religious hardliners who believe that they are fulfilling a biblical prophecy by taking over the land that they call Judaea and Samaria.
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“It’s not a war, it’s our right,” he said, brushing aside the issue of what might happen to the Palestinians if his movement succeeds in settling the land.
“It’s not my problem, it’s not something I have to solve. This is a land that was promised by God, that’s all I know,” he added.
Mr Sfard said that there were anywhere between a few dozen and a few hundred settlers using the violent tactic, which was proving to be effective.
“It’s slowing down the security forces and demanding much larger and heavier forces,” he said. “It’s such a big headache that many of the relevant authorities give up without trying.” The outposts are rebuilt quickly by determined settlers once the army leaves.
From James Hider, West Bank settlers use ‘price tag’ tactic to punish Palestinians, The Times [UK], Oct. 15, 2009 (bold-faced emphasis added.)