Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

land

An unusual operation by the Israel Defense Forces in the South Hebron Hills region has intensified suspicions among Palestinian residents that Israel is moving forward with its plan to demolish villages in the area and expel their residents. IDF helicopters ferried masked, armed soldiers to isolated Palestinian village of Jinba, where they raided homes, photographing and mapping the site, say residents.

Jonathan Cook tells the story of Nazareth, a Palestinian town that survived the Nakba only to be subjected to massive land confiscations, economic strangulation, and systematic discrimination by all Israeli governments since 1948. An important report covering issues crucial for the understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: because the Occupation didn’t start in 1967, and because discrimination against Israeli Palestinians, at times violent, continues.

Zanuta, like other small Palestinian villages in the area, existed as a cave-settlement before the West Bank was occupied by Israel. Archaeological findings reveal that Zanuta had been inhabited continuously from the Byzantine to the Ottoman period, until eventually being reduced to “a settlement of shepherds and fellahs living in the remains of the ancient structures and the residential caves alongside them,” as [Israeli] archaeologist Dr. Avi Ofer described it.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition of eight Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills because the territory is needed for Israel Defense Forces training exercises, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday… The IDF and the Civil Administration regard all of them as squatters in Firing Zone 918, even though the villages have existed since at least the 1830s.

IOA Editor: Since the early 1950s, “military training needs” has been a commonly used justification for the removal of Palestinians from lands desired by Israel. Typically, after a period of time, lands captured by this method have been turned over for Jewish settlements. As commented here before, this is an old “legal” tool used by the state to deprive Palestinians of their land and livelihood, which is part of a much larger program: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine — the replacement of the indigenous Palestinian population by a new, Jewish-only population — bit by bit, year after year, decade after decade, “dunam here and dunam there,” as the old Zionist slogan goes.

The Defense Ministry recently contracted an architect to resume construction of the Givat Sal’it outpost in the Jordan Valley, in what is seen as a step toward legitimizing the outpost. Givat Sal’it is one of 26 communities the Sharon government had promised the United States it would tear down nearly 10 years ago.

It’s a shame the police don’t show the same determination treating the settlers who invade private Palestinian land as they do evicting the temporary settlers on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. It’s a shame the social justice activists ignore the creeping eviction by the Israeli government in the occupied territories.

As a result of the High Court ruling, officers of the Civil Administration show up in Susya on June 12 and hand out six collective demolition orders affecting 52 buildings, including a preschool, a clinic and a solar panel system supplying electricity to the village and its steadfast residents.

Palestinians and activists in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Israel and neighbouring countires have demonstrated on Land Day in memory of six Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces on March 30, 1976 during protests over land confiscations. Al-Jazeera presents a selection of excellent images.

The state has argued before the Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the route of the separation barrier was based on Israel’s security needs. But Civil Administration’s maps and figures, disclosed here for the first time, suggest the barrier route was planned in accordance with the available land in the West Bank, intended to increase the area and population of the settlements.

In recent years, the government has adopted the so-called Prawer Plan, reversing several earlier decisions to recognize unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert. The new plan, explained by Association for Civil Rights in Israel lawyer Rawia Abu Rabia, will relocate 40,000 Bedouins in southern Israel for the establishment of 10 Jewish villages in their place.

The Transportation Ministry confirmed that it was pursuing the plan for the new rail lines “so as to permit it to be carried out in the future,” and in accordance with “a legal commitment the ministry made to the High Court of Justice.”

IOA Editor: This appears to be a scheme to navigate a plan to provide rail service to Ariel, an illegal Jewish settlement at the heart of the West Bank, through the various legal hurdles that it is certain to face. A similar gimmick was used in 2005 because, “by law, private Palestinian land cannot be expropriated for purposes of constructing a transportation route unless it was proven this route will serve the Palestinians as well.” [YNet, 2005] Thus, an imaginary rail network, “under consideration,” provides a legitimizing context for the actual planning of a transport service providing quick access to the center of Israel for thousands of West Bank settlers.

It is doubtful whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed great concern over the fate of Migron’s residents, has heard of Tha’lah. Unfortunately for the village’s residents, Tha’lah is situated in Area C, which is under Israel jurisdiction. Minister Benny Begin, who worked so tirelessly on the questionable “agreement” that will leave the Migron criminals on stolen land for a few more years (if it is ever implemented ), presumably does not know what happened to the residents of this tiny village in the Southern Hebron Hills. And the Israeli media didn’t stop focusing on an Iranian nuclear bomb that threatens to destroy our homes long enough to cover a boring story about a Palestinian family whose home we Israelis razed.

Settlers from West Bank outposts have taken control of land in Area B and are thus in breach of the 1995 Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, says Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement activist. Area B was defined in the Oslo Accords as land under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control.

Using phrases that imply Israel is conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Area C, the report notes the Palestinian population has shrunk dramatically to only 150,000, compared to as many as twice that number in the Jordan Valley alone in 1967. The Jewish population in the settlements, meanwhile, has grown to 310,000, tripling in less than 20 years.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), that ownes 13% of Israeli lands, forbids the sale or lease of its lands to any but Jewish owners. Many are now joining a global campaign against this policy whose roots come from expropriated Palestinian Land. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky looks at the history of JNF land acquisition from the land taken from 1948 refugees in the village of Ma’alul, 1967 refugees on whose land Canada Park was built, and the Bedouins of Al Araqib on whose land the JNF is attempting to build the Ambassador’s Forest.

IOA Editor: An outstanding report by Lia Tarachansky where she puts current events in their historic, political, institutional, and legal context: How the repeated destruction of the Beduin village of al-Araqib fits in the Palestinian history of the Nakba, post-1948 confiscation of Palestinian lands within Israel, and the destruction of the Latroun villages after the 1967 War — all with the full involvement of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a tax-exempt organization in the US.

Israel carried out a de facto annexation of Palestinian land northeast of the Jordan Valley and given it to Kibbutz Merav. Merav, part of the Religious Kibbutz Movement, is about seven kilometers northwest of the parcel. The route of the separation barrier in the area was changed so that the plot in question, about 1,500 dunams (375 acres), would be on the Israeli side.

Since February, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to demolish all outposts built on private Palestinian land, right-wing activists have been applying heavy pressure on him to reverse that decision. Publication of the report on Derekh Ha’avot would cause more headaches for the authorities and bring the petitioners back to the High Court.

A study commissioned by Israel’s Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat to address housing shortages in the city, obtained by Hebrew daily Maariv, shows designs for 60,718 housing units in the city, with the majority — 52,363 homes — planned for East Jerusalem.

Like thwarted spoiled bullies, both Israel and the US reacted with theatrical pique and fury. The US, never applying sanctions against Israel’s decades- long war crimes in Gaza and the OPT’s by suspending its steadfast cornucopia of billions in aid and arms, immediately withdrew its $80 million contribution to UNESCO as a collective punishment.

Ir Amim, a nonprofit that seeks to make life in Jerusalem more equitable for Arab and Jewish residents, claims agreement is illegal and ostensibly privatizes one of Israel’s most important tourism and archaeological sites

Both the City of David Archaeological Park and the proposed King’s Garden project, like all the Israeli settler’s neighbourhoods in annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank, are illegal under international law and numerous UN Resolutions. Settlements constructed beyond the international border established in 1967 violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Civil Administration is expected to begin forcefully moving Bedouin in the West Bank to a permanent location as part of a plan to remove all the Bedouin in Area C (under both Israel’s civilian and military aegis ) from lands they have been living on for decades.

Peace Now research has revealed that while in Israel the pace of construction since the so-called “settlement freeze” (Oct 2010) was one housing unit for every 235 residents, in the settlements the pace of construction was a housing unit for every 123 residents — nearly twice.

Palestinian residents of Sahknin, an Arab Galilee town, petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice five years ago over rejection by Rakefet’s admissions committee.

IOA Editor: The admission-committees system enables hundreds of Israeli Jewish towns and villages to reject individuals seeking to reside in them based on “incompatibility” – a sufficiently general term used to reject Palestinian citizens of Israel. The Israel Lands Administration’s reversal of a long standing policy of systematic discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens, in this instance only, is merely a tactical move designed to deal with this potentially precedent-setting legal case: All discriminatory laws and practices remain unchanged, continuing a long history of ethnic cleansing efforts on the part of all Israeli governments, “Right” and “Left” alike.

Inclusion of Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea and area surrounding Ariel in ‘settlement blocs’ whose takeover the IDF Civil Administration is advancing, would prevent establishment of Palestinian state with territorial contiguity… Until now it was not known that the administration, which is a military agency, was charged with distinguishing between the blocs Israel is demanding to annex as part of a final-status agreement and the rest of the settlements.

Acting on orders from the government, the Civil Administration declared 189 dunams [approximately 47 acres] of land belonging to the Palestinian village of Karyut to be state land, so as to retroactively legalize houses and a road in the Hayovel neighborhood of the settlement of Eli. This would seem to violate Israel’s long-standing commitment to the US not to expropriate Palestinian lands for settlement expansion.

IOA Editor: The land takeover process described in this news story is typical and has been used for decades, including for dispossession of Palestinians within pre-1967 Israel. Typically, land becomes “uncultivated” after it is declared a closed military area (presumably for IDF training) by military order which prohibits its legal owners to access it. When the legally-required time in which it must remain “uncultivated” in order to qualify for confiscation passes, the government proceeds to reclassify it as state-owned by virtue of being “uncultivated.” Hard to believe? It shouldn’t be. A great deal of the land of the Galilee was transferred from Arab to Jewish ownership in this manner.

The continuous desecrations taking place in Mamilla are not isolated or random acts. They are part of a pattern of systematically discriminatory policies that have been implemented against Palestinians since 1948, and are still being implemented inside Israel proper and in the territories occupied in 1967. These policies have resulted in the expropriation of most of the over ninety-three percent of the property of Mandatory Palestine that in 1948 was owned by Arabs.

The artificial division between Areas A, B and C was supposed to be erased from the map, and dropped from the discourse, in 1999. Instead, Israel has sanctified and perpetuated it. The largest share – 60 percent – is designated Area C, meaning it is under full Israeli security and civil control. It is self-evident why Israel perpetuates the Area C classification. After all, it gives Israel a free hand to continue emptying that part of the West Bank of Palestinians and encourage more Jews to violate international law and settle there.

Settling a score

16 June 2011

According to the [Israeli] court decision, the custodian of abandoned property in the West Bank area allocated the land on which the farm stands to the World Zionist Organization, which granted a permit for use of the land to Sussia, a cooperative agricultural association [a group of Jewish settlers].

The Palestinians and the international community, including the United States, have long objected to the E-1 plan on the grounds that it would cut the West Bank in two and sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the area.

Despite Netanyahu’s rhetoric, the facts on the ground – illegal outposts, failure to abide by court rulings, unfettered settler activity- make peace a distant dream.

Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson: “These laws threaten Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and others with yet more officially sanctioned discrimination… Israeli parliamentarians should be working hard to end glaring inequality, not pushing through discriminatory laws to control who can live where and to create a single government-approved view of Israel’s history.”

Higher Arab Monitoring Committee chair Mohammad Zeidan: “Israel is regressing into dangerous directions in its treatment of its Arab citizens.”

Some 1,500 Israeli Arabs protested in Lod (Lydda) on Tuesday against government policies which affect Israel’s Arab sector, launching the events of Land Day, to be marked on Wednesday. The protesters were demonstrating against the government demolition of the houses of the Abu Eid family, which left some 50 family members, 30 of them children, without a home.

On March 30, 2011, join the international campaign to Stop the Jewish National Fund. A key pillar of the colonization of Palestine – from the founding of the State of Israel to the present – has been the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (KKL), commonly known in English as the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF enjoys charity status in over 50 countries. This is despite its role in the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land, the theft of their property, the funding of historic and present-day colonies, and the destruction of the natural environment.

Despite living in the Negev Desert for hundreds of years, long before modern-day Israel was even formed, Bedouin who want to live on their ancestral land are being accused by Israel of ‘trespassing’… The Israeli government says the Bedouin do not qualify as indigenous people, and it’s just enforcing laws it inherited from the British and the Ottomans. Video journalist Amos Roberts travels with Nuri to the edge of the disputed land where he was born and which he’s not even allowed to set foot on. Nearby, Amos witnesses a village being bulldozed by Israeli authorities, then rebuilt by defiant locals – for the seventh time.

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