Israel Spying On US Inquiries Into West Bank Settler Violence - With Goal Of Thwarting Sanctions

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 16, 2024 - 11:40 PM

Israeli intelligence has been spying on information shared with the US government by the Palestinian Authority about West Bank settler violence against Palestinians -- spying with the purpose of thwarting US attempts to hold settlers accountable, according to a report by Israeli news outlet +972 Magazine.  

Settler violence against West Bank Palestinians, which gets little attention in Western media, takes many forms: murder, arson, assaults, vandalism, distributing threatening leaflets ordering Palestinians to leave their homes, blocking roads with boulders, cutting power lines, shutting down water wells, and setting fire to cherished olive groves that are important to Palestinian livelihoods and culture.  

Palestinians survey the destruction inflicted by Israeli settlers near Ramallah in the West Bank in June 2023 (Reuters/Ammar Awad via Brookings

Following a major 2023 uptick in violence against Palestinians -- which started well before the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel but then got even worse -- the United States, United Kingdom and France have started imposing sanctions on individual perpetrators. Punishments include the freezing of financial assets, barring travel to the United States, and prohibitions against Americans transacting with the sanctioned settlers. 

According to Israeli intelligence sources, Israel has been surveilling information and allegations about settler violence that the Palestinian Authority has been forwarding to the Office of U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC), which is led by Lieutenant General Michael Fenzel

Israel's goal isn't to join in imposing justice on the villains, but rather to help them avoid accountability imposed by the United States, the sources tell +972 Magazine. Said one: 

“We want to know what the Americans know. The goal is to know what is going to hit us when Fenzel comes and demands answers about these cases. It’s not for going after the settlers and arresting them — that’s why a lot of people here felt uncomfortable doing it.

...The Americans are demanding accountability from Israel, and the Israelis are finding themselves embarrassed. The fact that we are being asked to look for the materials indicates that Israel has no good answers.

...We’re working to help refute these allegations, or prevent them from developing into sanctions."

Two weeks ago, the US government sanctioned four settlers for their crimes against Palestinians. They included 29-year-old David Chai Chasdai who was determined to have instigated a February 2023 settler rampage in Huwwara (which was also attacked this week) that inflicted widespread property destruction, to include arson. One man was killed and 98 injured. Another sanctioned individual was among a group that assaulted Palestinian farmers and sympathetic Israel activists with clubs and stones. 

The USSC has an inventory of hundreds of settler violence incident reports to work through. Those reports come from the Palestinian Authority, but USSC does its own investigations, and the final decision to impose sanctions also reflects other sources.

One of +972 Magazine's Israeli sources say targets of upcoming sanctions will include senior Israeli civil servants, which will compound the mounting damage to the Zionist state's reputation. 

In a Feb. 1 executive order, Biden declared that "the situation in the West Bank — in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction — has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region."