When Palestinians Kill Palestinians
A frustrated Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defense minister, criticized the United Nations in a recent phone call with its Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, for ignoring the ongoing issue of Palestinians killing Palestinians, while “on the other hand, condemning Israel’s justified actions against terrorism.”
Lieberman was referring to the recent killings in Ein El-Hilweh — a predominately Palestinian enclave in Lebanon that has become a battleground for a power struggle among intra-sectarian rivals.
Earlier this month, fighting between the Palestinian Fatah party and a Sunni Islamist group in Lebanon left at least four people dead, and dozens more wounded. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas executed three men for allegedly collaborating with Israel — a ploy regularly used by Hamas to dispose of rival faction members.
To be fair, Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, did say that those murders “were carried out in breach of Palestinian’s obligations under international law…which places stringent conditions on the use of the death penalty,” and even Mladenov issued a statement saying that he was “deeply concerned” by the growing tensions in Gaza.
But the fact remains that when Palestinians are not killing Israelis, they are killing each other.
During the 2014 war against Israel, Hamas killed several Palestinians in public executions, or in their administrative facilities. An estimated 150 Palestinians were also killed or injured by errant Hamas rockets fired at Israel that fell within Gaza. Little mention of these deaths made the mainstream news.
That same year, the Palestine Center for Human Rights reported that 15 West Bank Palestinians were killed by the Palestinian Authority as a result of extreme force or mistreatment while in detention. And the Henry Jackson Society reported last year that the PA has an abysmal record of human rights abuses and flouting international law through the use of torture and the issuance of death penalties without due process. PA prisoners regularly go missing or are unaccounted for, while those not executed often die in prison.
Palestinians have also been killed by Palestinian forces conducting security raids. On September 2, 2016, the New York Times reported that Palestinian police officer Ahmed Halawa was beaten to death while in PA custody. When asked about the circumstances of Ahmed’s death, PA strongman Jibril Rajoub called Halawa a “troublemaker.”
And then there are the “honor” killings — a perverse misnomer for the murdering of women and gays. Exact figures are hard to find, as domestic crimes often go unregistered and unpunished in Palestinian society, but we know of at least 27 women and girls in 2013 who were murdered by their families, and 17 in 2015. Such barbarity should bring shame on the culpable society. Meanwhile, footage of gay men being thrown to their deaths from Gaza’s rooftops can be found online.
All this adds up to the sad conclusion that Palestinian Arabs live in an irresponsible, violent and murderous culture. By my estimates, since 2014 more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed by Palestinians — a trend that would certainly continue should the international community establish a Palestinian state, a goal that remains impossible until their culture undergoes significant change.
Anyone assuming that the establishment of a Palestinian state will result in a tolerant secular and liberal democracy is living in, well, a secular liberal democracy — and not in the Middle East.
Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’