Kingdom come is a first-class expose of Israel's coddled and deadly settler spawn by Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard. I'm serialising it here. The Australian connection is most interesting:
"The small house of Saad and Riham Dawabshe still smells of the fire that took their lives and that of their 18-month-old son, Ali. The floor is a jumble of clothes, melted furniture and cracked glass, the walls blackened by the ferocious flames that two fire trucks struggled to extinguish. To hear witnesses retell the story of the firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31 is heart-stopping. Saad, 32, was already dying in front of his house by the time his brother Nasser reached him. Saad's wife Riham, 27, was lying nearby, clutching a blanket she believed held Ali. Two masked Israeli settlers stood over their bodies, determined, Nasser Dawabshe says, to see them die. Another son, five-year-old Ahmad, was trapped behind the lounge room door, his screams rising above the inferno. A neighbour managed to get him out. Ali could not be saved. 'The more we threw water on the flames the more they burned,' Nasser says.
"Days later, three young Jewish men were arrested. They are, Israeli security services allege, involved in a violent underground movement that aims to create a Jewish kingdom. Known as 'The Revolt', their plan entails attacking Palestinians to draw the Israel Defence Forces into a cycle of violence. One of these young men is Evyatar Slonim, a dual Australian-Israeli citizen. The 23-year-old now sits in a small cell in a high-security wing of Eshel Prison in the city of Beersheba. Accused by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon of 'involvement in activity by an extremist Jewish group', Slonim was already the subject of a year-long 'administrative ban' prohibiting him from entering the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem when he was arrested. Meir Ettinger and Mordechai Meyer, who were arrested at the same time, are also in administrative detention.
"Slonim is a relative of controversial former Knesset member Rabbi Moshe Feiglin, who recently visited Australia to address synagogues in Sydney and Melbourne. Ettinger is the grandson of Meir Kahane, a militant American-Israeli rabbi and former Knesset member whose Kach movement was outlawed in Israel in the 1980s. Kahane was assassinated in 1990 but remains a hugely influential figure on Israel's far right. While authorities have not directly tied the arrest of Slonim, Ettinger and Meyer to the attack in Duma, Yaalon made it clear that the government believes there is a link. In an interview with Israel's Channel 10, the defence minister said: 'We wouldn't conduct these administrative arrests if there wasn't any connection to the arson.' Slonim was previously arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a home in the Palestinian town of Khirbet Abu Falah in November 2014. Ettinger is believed to have been involved in the torching of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the shores of the Sea of Galilee on June 17, while Meyer is suspected of an arson attack on Jerusalem's Abbey of the Dormition in May 2014. Through their lawyers, all three deny any involvement in the attacks. The investigation into the Dawabshe murders remains under a gag order in Israel.
"Slonim has been involved in attacks against Palestinians for years, according to court documents seen by Fairfax Media. He is believed to have been part of the extremist group known as the Hilltop Youth, from which security sources believe The Revolt was formed. The Hilltop Youth refuse to acknowledge the authority of the state, the military or their parents. They feel betrayed by the mainstream settler movement which is working in contravention of international law and with the full support of Israel's government - to establish a permanent Jewish presence throughout the occupied West Bank. And in recent years they have been, according to Israeli security sources, the main perpetrators in the so-called 'price tag' attacks against churches, Palestinian civilians and even Israeli military personnel. The 'price tag' is graffiti left at the scene as a message that there is a price to be paid for actions against the settler movement, such as carrying out court-ordered demolitions of settler outposts. At the Dawabshe house, the graffiti in Hebrew reads 'Revenge' and 'long live the Messiah.' A Star of David and a crown are drawn above the phrases.
"The Dawabshe family say they have no idea why they were targeted. But a manual saved on a thumb-drive found on one of Slonim's co-accused by the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, provides some insight into the plans of The Revolt. In their creation of a Jewish kingdom, all non-Jews would be expelled and a third temple would be built on the Temple Mount, where al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock stand today, forming Islam's third holiest site. 'The starting point of The Revolt is that the State of Israel has no right to exist, and therefore we are not bound by the rules of the game,' the thumb-drive manifesto reads. It goes on in chilling detail to provide a how-to guide for firebombing Palestinian homes or mosques. 'We prefer to use firebombs with our friends so provide yourself with: a molotov cocktail, preferably a litre-and-a-half, lighter, gloves, masks, metal bar/hammer, bag to carry all those,' the manual reads. 'Come to the village and there look for a home with an open door or open window without bars... Simply breaking a glass door or window... turn on [ignite] the fire bomb and throw it in. In order not leave the possibility of escape, burning tyres can be placed at the entrance of the house.'"
Next post: Part 2