5 of the Most Appalling Acts From Israel This Week: Refugee Tent Camp Destroyed and Politician Calls To Conquer Fertile Crescent

And country's top cop says he will ignore, not investigate, anonymous complaints of sex crimes.

Israeli-Ethiopian men

The last week of winter included a smorgasbord of outrageous reports out of Israel that did not spare indigenous Palestinians, African refugees, women of every race and religion, and other groups within Jewish Israeli society who also consistently catch hell from the cops.

1. Israel rips down refugee structures, raises border fence.

To drive tens of thousands of non-Jewish asylum-seekers back into Africa, Israel employs a three-pronged approach. It maintains a high fence on its African border to prevent any more refugees from arriving; rounds up refugees from the streets of Tel Aviv and into miserable desert detention centers; and coerces them to self-deport to other African countries where they don’t receive any refugee rights.

In the last three years, Israel’s anti-African policies have reduced the country’s asylum-seeker population by a third. But this slow-motion ethnic cleansing takes too long for some racist Israelis, so in order to assuage their anger, the government occasionally tinkers with the system to ensure that it continues to expel Africans at peak efficiency.

This week, the government ratcheted up two elements of its anti-African program. On Tuesday, defense officials announced Israel would increase the height of certain sections of its African border fence, to ensure that even fewer asylum-seekers manage to make it across. And on Wednesday, Israeli authorities destroyed a tent camp refugees had built to improve their miserable existence.

To close out the trifecta, an in-depth report published the same week at War Is Boring exposed the currency Israel uses to bribe African nations to get them to temporarily absorb the asylum-seekers it wishes to expel: weapons and weapons training, which will almost inevitably be used to create additional African refugees.

2) Top cop rules out anonymous complaints as rape pandemic rages.

In recent years, Israel’s police force has been plagued by one serious sex crime scandal after another. As Ha’aretz wrote this week, “In four years, four majors general… were forced to quit the force in the face of such allegations. A fifth… resigned suddenly in 2014 despite being a candidate for national commissioner, saying he didn’t want his personal life subjected to scrutiny. A sixth… was suspended over allegations of sexual harassment.”

Considering the track record of these top cops, one would think that upon taking over the role of police chief, Roni Alsheikh would have taken pains to assure the citizenry that he planned to implement a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and sexual assault, on the force and in society at large. At an event in honor of International Women’s Day, however, Alsheikh elected to do just the opposite.

It emerged at the beginning of last week that Alsheikh announced that henceforth, anonymous complaints of sex crimes would be ignored, not investigated. “Anonymous letters have turned into a culture of settling scores in the police force, and as such, from now on the police will not deal with anonymous letters that raise suspicions of violations by policemen,” Alsheikh said.

In related news, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that the country’s former president Moshe Katsav, who is serving seven years in jail for rape and other sex crimes, could soon have his prison sentence reduced, even though he has never expressed remorse for his actions.

Ha’aretz also reported that in previous weeks, Shaked attempted to lobby Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin, who has the power to commute prison sentences, on Katsav’s behalf. Shaked is not the only female minister in the Israeli government to have plugged for Katsav. A month ago, it emerged that Culture Minister Miri Regev tried to arrange furloughs for the disgraced Likud politician back in 2013.

3. Minister supports expelling families of Palestinian attackers.

Last week, we reported that the centrist party leader to serve as Finance Minister in the previous Netanyahu government had called for Palestinians who attack Jews to be expelled from the country, and for the same punishment to be meted out to their immediate relatives.

This week, another centrist party leader who serves as Finance Minister in the current Netanyahu administration called for the same, for Palestinians who attack Jews and the relatives of those Palestinians to be deported. “I believe only in expulsion, in something that deters. To deport them anywhere possible. I’m not timid on this issue. I’ve been convinced by the security forces that expulsion is something that will deter [terrorists],” Kulanu party chief Moshe Kahlon said Monday.

A bill to institute this policy has received the backing of the government, but currently hangs in legislative limbo, as Israel’s Attorney General publicly opposes the bill, noting that it contravenes international law.

4. Deputy Speaker aspires to conquer Fertile Crescent.

Jewish Home Party lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich has earned a slot on the IIW weekly recap twice in a row now with his frequent flippant quips. Last week, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset responded to poll results revealing that half of Israeli Jews want the country to be ethnically cleansed of Arabs with a nod of agreement, tweeting "There are those to be led."

This week, at a protest calling to deny Palestinians access to West Bank roadways, Smotrich declared he would like to see Israel occupy much more than just Palestinian territory. “You know my opinions, we have much greater aspirations, to the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers,” said Smotrich, referring to two waterways that run through Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

5. Biological weapons used on civilians with no oversight.

A report on the global use of crowd-control weapons released this week revealed that Israel uses every single one of the weapons mentioned in the document: impact projectiles, chemical irritants, acoustic devices, and others not mentioned in the document.

Although Israeli police are required to document the use of these weapons, they have never provided local human rights groups with any paperwork, despite continuous requests. When a new crowd-control weapon is incorporated into Israel’s arsenal for the first time, it is done without any civilian oversight or public debate.

Also this week, the Israeli government voted to expose its citizens to a chemical some critics fear has the side effect of pacifying a population. At the behest of Israel’s Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, the Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee voted to reintroduce fluoride into the country’s tap water, and to make this move mandatory.

Many doctors point to the potential health benefits of fluoridated water, which include helping to prevent dental plaque. But regardless of what regular Israelis feel about fluoride, the introduction of this chemical compound into the nation’s water supply won’t be contingent upon any public debate.

David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker. His website is www.davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.

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