Illegal settlers in the West Bank have set up a program for tourists of all ages to learn how to shoot “terrorists”, a term the organizers of the program not-so-implicitly define as Arabs, specifically Palestinians.
The program invites tourists from around the world to learn how to shoot and kill in three seconds or less. The tourists profiled in a recent Ynet report are an American family seeking the “thrill” of firing live rounds at makeshift targets designed to represent Palestinians living in the West Bank.
Located in Gush Etzion, a cluster of twenty-two Israeli settlements illegal under international law and condemned by the international community, the “tourist attraction” — as Ynet euphemistically puts it — awards participants a diploma indicating completion of a “basic shooting course in Israel”. The point, it seems, is to reframe the role settlements and their occupants play as a strictly defensive one.
One participant, Olga, says that she “heard on the news about shootings in the West Bank,” and that she and her family “came to see it in person.”
Little do Olga and her children know, however, that the shootings that occur in the West Bank are almost exclusively perpetrated by settlers firing at unarmed Palestinian farmers and day laborers. In fact, settler violence has increased so dramatically in the last few years that B’Tselem, an Israeli rights agency, has dedicated an entire segment of its field work and research to reporting violence committed by settlers.
Furthermore, in the latest “Protection of Civilians Weekly Report” (June 6-12) published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territories, settlers are reported to have set fire to over 200 trees and dozens of dunums of wheat fields belonging to Palestinian communities. (Download the report here.)
More importantly, since the beginning of 2012, settlers have injured 63 Palestinians, or an average of about 3 Palestinians per week. This is in contrast to the 19 Israelis injured by Palestinians.
It is more frightening than ironic that this tourist program, founded on illegally annexed Palestinian land, seeks to teach participants how to properly shoot at Palestinians, a strategy widely employed by settlers throughout throughout the West Bank. As this program indoctrinates youth to express their intolerance through physical violence, the end result will mirror what happened in ‘Asira Al-Qibliya on May 19 when masked Israeli settlers confronted Palestinian residents and shot one Palestinian man in his neck, or what happened in the southern hills of Al-Khalil on May 21 when an Israeli settler assaulted a Palestinian farmer with a sickle, or what happened in ‘Urif on May 26 when masked settlers set fire to olive groves and fired live rounds at nearby Palestinians, injuring one. (For footage and in-depth reporting about these three separate cases of settler violence, click here.)