Brutal murder of Fogel family in Itamar, a savage act of barbarism - updated 4/17/11

Sheila Musaji

Posted Apr 17, 2011      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Brutal murder of Fogel family in Itamar, a savage act of barbarism

by Sheila Musaji

The recent murder of the Fogel family who were West Bank settlers, was a criminal act of the worst order.  Whoever carried out this brutal murder needs to be found, tried, and if found guilty, executed.  There is no justification for such an act of brutality.

A Palestinian Journalist, Daoud Kuttab wrote The brutal and inhumane killings of the Fogel family in Itamar is unacceptable and indefensible. No matter what anyone might say about the illegality of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, murder is murder and murder of civilians irrespective of the circumstances must be denounced and rejected at all levels.  Palestinians do want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. Jewish settlement activities is a major hurdle to Palestinian national aspirations. But all Palestinians fighting for freedom and independence should denounce this barbaric act against an Israeli family of five. The independent state of Palestine should not be built on the blood of innocent civilians.

The Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, has denounced these brutal murders as “acts of terror”.

Mustafa Akyol wrote The Murder Of The Jewish Innocents in which he said:

A horrendous massacre took place in Itamar, occupied Palestine, a week ago. A terrorist broke into a house of a Jewish settler family and killed five of its members mercilessly. The victims include a 3-month-old whose throat was slit, a 3-year-old who was stabbed in the heart and an 11-year-old who was butchered and killed by a knife.

I condemn the murder, and the murderer, with all my heart. I am no fan of Israeli settlers, and oppose their very presence on the Palestinian soil, but none of that can ever justify a monstrosity like this. Nothing, simply nothing, can justify the killing of innocents.

That is not just common sense and universal conscious — it is also an Islamic principle. The Islamic doctrine of war, or jihad, has become quite notorious lately, for it is constantly exploited by those who commit terrorism in the name of Islam. Yet in fact, making a distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants among the enemy and respecting the lives of the latter has been a key principle of jihad since the beginning of Islam.

This comes from the very core sources of the Muslim faith. First, the Quran ordered believers to “fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits.” (2/190) Then the Prophet told his troops, “Do not kill the old, the infant, the child or the woman.” Accordingly, Islamic scholars built a doctrine of jihad, which took great pains to differentiate between the enemy and the innocents within the enemy. As the all-eminent Bernard Lewis puts it:

“Fighters in jihad are enjoined not to kill women, children and the aged unless they attack first, not to torture or mutilate prisoners, to give fair warning of the resumption of hostilities after a truce and to honor agreements.” (In “Crisis of Islam,” 2003, p. 30)

As Lewis adds, this principle led the medieval Islamic jurists to create a literature of jus in bello, or rules of a proper conduct of war. For example, many of those jurists limited or banned the use of mangonels and catapults, for these war machines inflicted indiscriminate casualties on the enemy.

In other words, even what the Westerners call “collateral damage” these days was a matter of concern for Muslim scholars of the Middle Ages. It is therefore ironic, and sad, that some of today’s Muslims — a tiny minority, to be sure — are willing to inflict not just “collateral” but also intentional damage on the enemy noncombatants.

I believe that what drives those militant Muslims, and terrorists such as the one who committed the massacre of Itamar, is a zealous hatred of their enemy rather than a pious observance of Islamic law. In other words, they attack innocent lives not because their religion tells them to do that — it actually tells them not to do that. They rather attack out of loathing, which is rooted in their political misfortunes.

Most arguments that try to justify jihad on civilians reflect that political incentive. Those who sympathize (or at least “understand”) attacks on Israeli civilians typically say, “They kill our children, too.” Or those who justify al-Qaeda’s attack on American civilians argue, “They pay taxes to their government, so they are responsible as well” — as if any American citizen has any other choice. ...

There is also no justification for making unfounded allegations about who the perpetrator might be before we have any facts.  We don’t know if it was a Palestinian, or an Arab, or a Muslim who committed this despicable act.  I pray that it was not.  We don’t know if this was an act of terrorism against the settlements, or if it was a personal vendetta on the part of someone who was angry with the family.  We don’t know if this was the senseless act of a madman. 

At this point, all that we do know is that a family was brutally murdered in their home.

The Jerusalem Post has reported that

A number of news Web sites that are affiliated with the Palestinian Authority claimed on Monday that the Itamar killings were committed by a foreign worker who was employed in the settlement.  PA-controlled media outlets also highlighted the story and continued to cast doubt about Israeli claims that Palestinians were behind the killings. 

... Ma’an pointed out that no Palestinian group had claimed responsibility for the attack and that Palestinians were banned from entering settlements.

Another Palestinian news agency, Qudsnet, claimed that an Asian man who used to work for the Fogel family was behind the killings.

Quoting a Palestinian family living in the nearby village of Awarta, the agency said that the family members were slaughtered because the father refused to pay the Asian worker his salary, which is estimated at 10,000 Shekels.

The latest claims came as PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview with Kol Yisrael, condemned the Itamar killings as “despicable, immoral and inhuman.”

Abbas said that a “human being is not capable of something like that.” He said that had the PA had advance information, “we would have prevented this.”

Offering to help Israel in the investigation, Abbas rejected accusations of incitement and said he was prepared to be part of an Israeli-American-Palestinian committee to look into the allegations. **

The military wing of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said Monday that its activists had no part in the slaying of five members of a settler family in Itamar on Friday night.  Commenting on the nature of the killings, in which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death, including a three-month-old baby, the brigades said they “oppose the targeting of civilians and killing of children no matter what the pretext may be.”  **

UPDATE 4/1/2011

Although the perpetrator(s) of this crime have still not been caught, that doesn’t prevent those who are determined to fan the flames of hatred from making baseless claims.

Pamela Geller, for example, not only published photographs of the murdered family, but also stated Devout Muslims murder Jewish children and babies in their sleep, simply because they are Jewish. Forgive me for publishing these pictures, but we live in the modern age of the barbarian—and the media, the political elites and the chattering class scrub, and in some cases glamorize, the savagery of these bloodthirsty anti-humans.

Matt Duss reports

In the wake of the horrific murders of five family members, including three children, in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, a number of conservative blogs have been pushing a story that crowds of Palestinians in Gaza turned out to “celebrate” the murders.  ...  A little research revealed that all of these claims are based on a single story from last Saturday in the Israeli tabloid Ynet.

When I contacted Elior Levy, the writer of the Ynet story, he responded that the item was originally “published in [the] ‘Safa’ web site. It is a news agency located in Gaza.” Safa is widely perceived to be Hamas-affiliated. Levy sent me a link, but noted that “I think that they don’t have [an] archive.” Levy also noted that the site “put a picture there of a man that gives candies on the road of Rafah to drivers. The title says ‘Candies in Rafah — celebrating the mission in Nablus.’” (Nablus is the Palestinian city near the Itamar settlement.)

I contacted a number of people who work in Gaza, none of them had seen or heard anything about “jubilant crowds,” or even moderately pleased crowds, thronging Gaza’s streets in celebration of the murders. A search of the Safa site didn’t turn up the story either, but photos of the man handing out sweets in Rafah, three of them in fact, were easy to find, as they’ve accompanied many of the blog posts condemning the Palestinian “celebrations.”

Even if the photo caption is accurate, one guy handing out treats to celebrate murder is one too many. But do you see “crowds” of “jubilant Muslims” in those photos? I don’t. (And even if you did, would this say more about Islam than crowds of Jewish Israelis celebrating mass murderer Baruch Goldstein every year says about Judaism? I don’t think so.)

So it seems that what happened here is that a pro-Hamas website tried, lamely and offensively, to spin the Itamar murders as a bold, praise-worthy act of resistance. An Israeli tabloid then reported this (now disappeared) item in typically steroidal fashion. Conservative bloggers then swarmed on it. And that’s how a non-existent mass demonstration of anti-Israel hatred ended up under the Washington Post’s banner as an actual fact, probably to be repeated in op-eds and AIPAC fundraising letters for years and years to come.

Read Matt’s entire article, for more information and many links.

Yesterday, Israeli teens were indicted for Itamar revenge arson **

Max Blumenthal reports

The police investigation into the Itamar murders remains under a gag order. No individual Palestinian has been accused or even named as a suspect by the police. However, the resident of the neighboring Palestinian village Awarta, who have suffered for years from settler pogroms, are being collectively blamed and punished. According to a report by three International Solidarity Movement volunteers living under curfew in Awarta, Israeli soldiers and settlers have rampaged through the village in recent days, seeking murder suspects and the satisfaction that comes with retributive violence.

The soldiers reportedly destroyed property, stole money, defecated on the floors of homes, and blindfolded and beat residents, leaving one 28-year-old man so badly injured he had to be smuggled to a hospital in Nablus. Afterwards, approximately 300 masked settlers descended on the town and attacked its residents, breaking the arms of two men.

27 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to press Palestinian leaders to end “incitement directed against Jews and Israel within the Palestinian media, mosques, and schools.”  Matthew Berkman wrote and excellent commentary on the double standards involved.

UPDATE 4/17 to 30/2011

Arrests have been made in the murder of this family Richard Silverstein

Ira Chernus raises a number of issues about these arrests in the article Itamar Murders: How the Israeli Narrative of Victimization Is Fed

It appears that the murderers were Arab Muslim teens. 


A congressional double standard on incitement, Matthew Berkman
Abbas condemns murder of Israeli settler family
After Itamar: Exploring the cynical logic that makes everyone a target, Max Blumenthal
After Murder – the Paradox of Memory: From M.E. Violence to the Wisdom of Torah, Rabbi Arthur Waskow 
Assigning Blame for West Bank Killings, Peter Hart
Fatah militants: Killing children unacceptable
‘Itamar killings carried out by foreign worker’, Khaled Abu Toameh 
Itamar perpetrator unconfirmed, settlers bulldoze and expand,-settlers-bulldoze-.aspx
Killing Fogel family in Itamar is not acceptable, Daoud Kuttab
On the murders at Itamar, Stephen M. Walt
Settlers create new West Bank outpost in memory of slain family
Slaughter of the Fogels: After the West Bank Killings, Karl Vick,8599,2058660,00.html#ixzz1GgHqTEnK
Turkish FM denounces murder of family members in Itamar as ‘act of terror’