May 2011


Who Killed the Fogels?

By Ronald Bleier

In early March 2011, five members of a Jewish settler family, the Fogel parents and three of their six 1 children were brutally killed as they slept in their home in Itamar, a northern West Bank settlement not far from the Palestinian town of Nablus.2 Surprisingly, little was heard about the progress of the investigation until about five weeks later, just before the Passover holiday, on April 17, 2011. The Israeli government finally announced that two young Palestinians, Hakim Mazen Awad, 18, and Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, from the Palestinian village of Awarta, about a kilometer from Itamar, had confessed and had reenacted the murder of Ehud (Udi) and Ruth Fogel, and three of their children, Yoav, 11, Elad, four, and Hadas, three months.

Reports from the Palestinian community, however, cast doubt on Palestinian participation in the attack. For one thing Palestinian sources emphasized the difficulty, near to practical impossibility, of breaching the very tight security at the settlement without raising effective alarm.

A Palestinian blog, KABOBfest, authored by (the otherwise unidentified) Mohammad, explained that Itamar is a heavily fortified settlement, whose security included an electrified wire fence topped with two feet of razor wire, with sensors that could signal intrusion by means of cutting shears, and cameras that covered the entire perimeter. 24-hour security guards in addition to Israeli military forces also protected the settlement. Itamar, according to Mohammad is also surrounded by hundreds of meters of empty buffer land to isolate and identify intruders3

The KABOBfest report continues with its own ironical spin on the official story as it was recounted in the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz. In Mohammad's retelling:

the teens decided on a whim to go to Itamar armed with nothing but wire cutters and a prayer. They walked across the buffer zone without being noticed by the cameras, security guards, soldiers or residents of the colony. They reached the electrified fence, where they spent ten minutes cutting the wire.

Luckily for the Palestinian youths, Mohammad continues, the settlement's automatic cameras and sensors for some mysterious reason raised no alarms. He continues:

Having defied all odds, the teenagers now left the house and went back outside. They still hadn't been noticed. Neither the gunshot nor the screams had been heard (the security services here explain that the weather wasn't conducive to carrying sound waves that evening). While realizing they STILL hadn't been noticed by any of the residents, soldiers, security guards or cameras, Amjad and Hakim spotted the Fogels' 3-month-old baby through the window. So they decided to go back inside and kill the baby.

Mohammad explains that in this latest version, a gun and knife now replaces the original version in which the Fogel parents and children were murdered only with a knife.4 According to Ha'aretz, the two youths only decided on their operation hours before the Friday night March 11 murders. KABOBfest's Mohammad believes that the difficulty in penetrating settlement security was such that the murders could not have taken place without extensive planning and training, and could not have been the result of an impromptu decision.

In addition, despite an Israeli imposed news blackout, allegations appeared in Palestinian outlets that the Israeli authorities had identified and arrested a Thai worker for the murder and had also arrested all of the other Thai workers who worked in the settlement.

The motive?

If the Palestinians didn't commit the crime-and if they did, their motive would have been taken for granted-what would have possessed a foreign worker to do so? Foreign workers have been imported to Israel in large numbers-currently there are about 250,000 legal and illegal foreign workers in Israel-and are seen as reliable ostensibly because they don't harbor the murderous hatred attributed to Palestinians.

Palestinian sources claimed that no Palestinian group had claimed responsibility. 5 The Palestinian news agency Qudsnet offered a motive that seems to have come from a sole Palestinian informant. Qudsnet claimed that it was an Asian man who used to work for the Fogels who was responsible for the killings.

Quoting a Palestinian family living in the nearby village of Awarta, the [Qudsnet] 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 [about $3,000].6

According to outspoken Canadian anti-Zionist blogger, Xymphora, 7 the Israeli authorities denied that they questioned all the Thai workers. Xymphora doesn't find Israeli denials "convincing in the light of the fact that Israel put a gag order over reporting of the actions of Israeli security forces." 8

As to the confessions obtained from the Palestinian suspects, the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting Israeli occupation, issued a report that gave some background suggesting how the two Palestinian suspects were chosen and interrogated and perhaps tortured to produce their confessions. 9 (Although Israel's High Court ruling of September 1999 prohibited some forms of torture, it's widely understood that torture of many Palestinian detainees is routine. 10) Immediately after the murders, the Israelis instituted a five-day curfew on the village of Awarta, raided homes and detained around 300 people. As of March 19th, 55 men, were still in Israeli custody, according to the Mayor, Qays Awwad. 11


Among the 300 arrested, the youngest was 14 years old. Some of the men were taken to the local boys school where they had to leave their fingerprints and DNA and some were taken to the military base at Huwwra checkpoint. Some of the detainees reported that the soldiers had abused them while they were detained and handcuffed. It has been reported that a 75-year-old woman was handcuffed and had to sit on the ground while the soldiers went through her home, and that soldiers beat an 80-year-old woman.

Responding to the Itamar attacks, the Israeli government announced the building of 500 new homes in West Bank settlements, including the settlements of Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, and Kiryat Sefer. 12 In the days immediately following the murders, there were several reported revenge attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property.

Absent an independent investigation, readers will decide which of the two accounts seems more credible. Some might argue that the available evidence has risen to the level of a prima facie case that the Palestinians were not guilty. The apparent disinclination of the Israeli authorities and the Israeli media to rebut some of the most plausible contrary evidence, suggests that the case for foreign worker responsibility is conclusive.

For example, the brief Jerusalem Post report noting that Palestinian news sources cast doubt on Palestinian responsibility for the attacks acknowledged that a foreign worker had been arrested in connection with the attack but gave no other information that would help readers weigh the validity of Palestinian doubts. 13 Similarly Wikipedia goes as far as recording some of the questions raised by relatives of the accused, yet shrinks from adding details regarding possible foreign worker responsibility. (Israel Shamir, a Russian-Israeli anti-Zionist journalist and author, has argued that Wikipedia is "infiltrated" if not controlled by Zionists.14 ) Much of the same unwillingness to expose evidence contrary to the official story seems to be the case for the rest of the Israeli media judging by such mainstream outlets as Ha'aretz and Yedioth Ahronoth.

Under the circumstances it seems that Xymphora may be close to the mark when he argues that besides the reflexive reaction to pin the crime on Palestinians, there was a certain political urgency in official circles anxious to ensure as little news about possible foreign worker responsibility made its way into public consciousness. Xymphora's prediction that the truth of the matter will be buried seems on target.

The [Israelis] needed to find Palestinian patsies as they had already announced more illegal settlement expansion based on illegal collective punishment based on the rush-to-judgment conclusion that the assassins were Palestinian. The [Israelis] wanted to wrap up the frame-up before Passover. Mission accomplished. The fact that the patsy story is simply preposterous-- for many, many reasons-- won't bother anybody. 15

The End

1Some accounts give the number of Fogel children as five, not six. arrow

2The incident is also known as the Itamar attack or the Itamar Massacre arrow

3Itamar Killers Found? by Mohammad. April 18, 2011, Quoted in Xymphora: "Patsies for the Itamar killings" April 19, 2011; arrow

4It may be that the revised official story which added a rifle used as a weapon in the killings was meant to justify the arrests, reported in April, of more Palestinians on the grounds that they assisted the murderers by providing them with weapons. arrow

5 So claimed a Bethlehem-based news agency, Ma'an, which is close to the Palestinian leadership. According to the Jerusalem Post, two days after the murder, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the murders. However Wikipedia reported that officials of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade denied responsibility. arrow

6 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Itamar killings carried out by foreign worker," 3.14.11 arrow

7 Xymphora provides the link to Ha'aretz , April 17, 2011, Anshel Pfeffer, "Two teens from West Bank village arrested over Itamar massacre," Zionism may be defined as the ideology that a Jewish state should supplant the former Palestine. arrow

8 Xymphora, op. cit., note 3 above. arrow

9Portions of the ISM report was posted on the leftist Mondoweiss blog, March 19, 2011. arrow

10See e.g., If Americans Knew's 2004 webpage on the subject: arrow

11 Ha'aretz cited unnamed Palestinian news agencies for similar news regarding mass arrests at Awarta. arrow

12Ha'aretz , March 13, 2011, by Barak Ravid. arrow

13'Itamar killings carried out by foreign worker' KHALED ABU TOAMEH 03/14/2011 arrow

14 Israel Shamir, "Wiki, the Chaos Controlled," arrow

15 Xymphora's April 19, 2011 blog; op. cit., note 3 above. arrow


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