Aug 15, 2005
On Thursday, August 4, in Shefaram, an Arab town in the north of Israel, an 18-year-old Jewish soldier got on a bus and opened fire, killing the driver, two students and a 55-year-old man, all Arabs, before being beaten to death by the people on the bus.
This terrorist, a sympathizer of the religious far right, deserted with his weapon to protest the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. His worried family several times contacted the army, telling them where he was and asking that his weapon be taken away from him. In vain.
This anti-Arab terrorist attack, which is only the latest of a long series of similar attacks, roused the indignation of the Arab population of Israel. A strike appeal was launched. More than 20,000 people came out for the funeral of the four victims.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, along with several members of his administration, immediately condemned the terrorist attack and demanded a "priority investigation" by the intelligence service. Sharon called the shooting "a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens."This could not hide what Sharon himself has done – his anti-Arab provocations in Jerusalem in 2000 which ignited the second Intifada, or uprising, and his continued policy of putting Jewish settlers into the West Bank and annexing Arab land.
In the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank – at multiple check points on the border and at all the internal borders – the army, the intelligence service, religious extremists and even ordinary settlers assassinate Palestinian Arabs.
But Sharon's hypocritical words did reveal something about the tinder box Israel itself has become. Arabs living inside Israel – unlike Palestinian Arabs living in the occupied territories – are Israeli citizens. They may be second class citizens, suffering higher unemployment, poverty, and the lack of infrastructure as well as all sorts of discrimination. And there is a disgusting and constant anti-Arab atmosphere, which reinforces discriminatory laws and regulations. Nonetheless, the police, the army and the intelligence service try to avoid taking on Israeli Arabs too openly inside of Israel proper.
Sharon's rush to denounce the attack his policies provoked shows that the Israeli government wants at all cost to avoid movements of revolt and riots inside Israel itself.