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

settlers

Benny Katzover: “The main role of Israeli democracy now is to disappear. Israeli democracy has finished its role, and it must disassemble and give way to Judaism… In Jewish faith, the Land of Israel is central…”

Likud MK and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin contacted right-wing activists over Israeli army movements in the West Bank, investigation documents reveal. Five right-wing extremists were charged by Jerusalem’s District Prosecutor’s Office with tracking Israel Defense Forces operations in the West Bank in an attempt to disrupt attempts to evacuate illegal outposts.

IOA Editor: This unremarkable occupation story is important because it shows how the most extreme elements of Israeli settlers are closely connected to, and directly supported by, the very core of the Israeli political system and government.

To escape the contradictions created by history and its lessons, we chose to buy the meta-historical explanation of our armed, fortified presence here: no more and no less than God’s promise to Abraham, from whom all of us are directly descended. This promise is what permits us, in our view, to do whatever we please to the people that dwells here, the natives of this land: to expel, to concentrate, to divide, to blockade, to impoverish, to dry out, to bomb, to uproot, to dispossess.

Assailants spray paint Mamilla Cemetery headstones with the slogans ‘Death to Arabs’ and the name of a settlement outpost slated for demolition. This is only the last in a series of violent activities against Palestinians and Israeli anti-Occupation activists.

IOA Editor: Mamilla Cemetery, a historic Jerusalem and Muslim landmark, has now been relegated by a junior Haaretz journalist to a site “next to the [yet-to-be-built] Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance.” The cemetery, containing centuries of Palestinian history, has been desecrated for decades by Israeli governments intent on eradicating Palestinian history. The museum, representing a distorted view of Jewish history, and imported from the US, is intended to physically replace yet another bit of Palestinian history — in Jerusalem, the very heart of Israeli-Palestinian contention. The Mamilla Cemetery case is crucially important: it is a very real, yet also a very symbolic, representation of Israeli ethnic cleansing in action.

Oxfam says over 2,500 olive trees were destroyed in September, and 7,500 this year. Since 1967, 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, the international organization estimates.

With no hope of statehood, Palestinians will have to devise their own new strategy for coping with the reality of an apartheid system in which the Jewish settlers become their permanent neighbours. Trapped in a single state ruled over by their occupiers, Palestinians are likely to draw on the experience of their cousins inside Israel. Israel’s Arab community has been struggling with marginalisation and subordination within a Jewish state for decades. They have responded with a vocal campaign for equality that has antagonised the Jewish majority and resulted in a wave of anti-Arab legislation.

IDF Officers serving in the West Bank have reported recently that tensions between security forces and settlers are on the rise. According to one senior office, “the security forces spend more time dealing with incidents involving Israeli citizens than confronting Palestinian terrorism.”

IOA Editor: The monster is finally turning against its creators… Most Israeli Jews have long been innately incapable of seeing who the significant terrorists are.

Sarah Benninga: When the wives of the male attackers saw their husbands hitting male and female protestors alike, they [the settler women] applauded and spat at me: ‘Traitor,’ ‘You deserve it.’ And when they heard their husbands threaten us: ‘We’ll fuck you in the ass,’ they suddenly turned into men themselves, applauding their husbands’ sexual conquests as if they were one of the boys.

In Qusra, deep among the terraced hills of the West Bank, fear is on the rise. “The settlers are provoking us continuously,” said Hani Abu Reidi, head of the village council. “They uproot olive trees, kill our sheep, burn our mosques and curse our prophet. They want to drag us into the sphere of violence. We do not want to go there.”

Palestinian MP Mustafa al-Barghouthi warned that Jewish settlers may massacre Palestinians after the Israeli government supplied them with arms and training.

Former chief IDF rabbi: “A village like this, like Awarta, from which the murderers of the Fogel family and of the Shebo family emerged, must suffer as a village. A situation must be created whereby the inhabitants prevent anyone in this village from harming Jews. Yes, it is collective punishment. They must not be allowed to sleep at night, they must not be allowed to go to work, they must not be allowed to drive their cars. There are many ways.”

“Postponing the eviction of Beit Yonatan is a premeditated move by [Jerusalem mayor] Barkat and the settlers to use the Palestinians as an excuse to avoid the order of the court,” said Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer.

According to Dror Etkes, who has been researching construction in the settlements for several years, at least 25 springs are undergoing development for tourism. “Access to these springs has been blocked to the Palestinians, and there are dozens of other springs that the settlers have marked as targets for takeover,” he says.

Beit Ummar is just one of hundreds of villages in Palestine under constant harassment from Israeli settlers. [Its residents] have suffered the loss of their land, limited access to their own water supply, rocks smashing their windows, midnight arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, and daily Israeli military aggression. The most recent insult: settlers’ feces covering the vineyards of Beit Ummar.

Director of Mossawa advocacy center for the Palestinian minority: “The police have already repeatedly demonstrated their hostility to Palestinian citizens, but this move proves that the authorities want to extend and deepen our oppression.”

Thirteen percent of all combat company commanders on active service in the IDF come from settlements … a five-fold over-representation based on their proportion in the general population of Israel.

[T]he truth is that the settlers know better than anyone else that not only did construction in settlements continue over the last 10 months, and vigorously, but also that a relatively large part of the houses were built on settlements that lie east of the separation fence.

A rabbi from one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank was questioned on suspicion of incitement last week as Israeli police stepped up their investigation into a book in which he sanctions the killing of non-Jews, including children and babies.

Adalah lawyer Abir Baker: “The Shin Bet is facing an internal crisis over this arrest and the settlers are trying to exploit that with their campaign. Many members of the Shin Bet are settlers themselves and think of these extremists as their colleagues, not as the enemy. The line between the Shin Bet and these extremist organisations is very blurred.”

In recent years, interest in the pre-state Revisionist underground movements has grown among West Bank settlement youth. These young people want to give the nationalist Lehi and Etzel (Irgun Zvai Leumi) movements a more prominent role in Zionist history and aggrandize figures who sacrificed themselves for the Land of Israel.

IOA Editor: There is a natural continuity between Israel’s pre-state right-wing terrorist organizations and today’s settlers, who are sometime the very same individuals, their children, or followers. The “Lehi” (“Stern-Gang”) and “Etzel” (“Irgun”) mentioned here are best known for their 1948 war crime of the Deir Yassin massacre, which played a key role in the ethnic-cleansing of Palestine that followed.

Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian home in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City today, evicting about 45 members of an extended family which has occupied the building for more than 70 years.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Washington in a much-feted effort to restore damaged ties with the United States, new tensions in East Jerusalem threaten to rekindle a diplomatic row over Jewish building beyond the Green Line in the city. On Saturday lawyers served eviction notices to two Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, a focus of clashes between Arab residents and settlers.

Amira Hass: Some settlers are employing a new strategy to get Palestinians evicted from their land in the northern region of the Jordan Valley: set[ting] up a “protest” tent next to a tent belonging to Bedouin herdsmen near Wad el Maleh, on private Palestinian land. [The result:] both the Israelis and Palestinians there were handed decrees declaring the area a closed military zone.

A survey of the Israeli general public and Israeli settlers taken in early March shows three-fifths of the Israeli public (60%) support “dismantling most of the settlements in the territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.” This is eleven points higher than the previous reading (49%) taken in December, 2009, and is the highest level recorded since 2005, during the debate over evacuating the Gaza Strip.

Some 300 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were uprooted on the night between Monday and Tuesday in groves near the village of Mihmas, close to the illegal outpost of Migron. Mihmas residents blamed settlers for the attack and said this was the third time the settlers had uprooted trees in the area.

Clashes erupted Wednesday between Palestinian residents and ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. A Palestinian woman and child were hurt in the incident and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

“The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’” applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,” write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination,” while babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

The discovery was made hours after Israel Defense Forces soldiers, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Israeli settlers were seen entering the cemetery… Israelis are forbidden from entering Awarta, although the IDF occasionally organizes group trips for which it provides security.

Over 10,000 right-wing protesters gathered on Wednesday in Paris Square in Jerusalem near the Prime Minister’s residence to demonstrate against the temporary settlement freeze. “When Netanyahu speaks of a settlement freeze he means a disengagement,” National Union MK Aryeh Eldad told the protesters.

IOA Editor: MK Eldad is among Israel’s most extreme right-wing politicians. It would be fair to surmise that he believes ALL Jews have all the rights over Israel/Palestine, and Palestinian Arabs have no rights at all. It is also safe to assume that he’d be entirely in favor of the transfer of all Palestinians out of their homeland – this is an assumption only because such speech is both politically-unwise and illegal in Israel.

[T]he organization that offered every soldier refusing to evacuate a settlement… NIS 1,000 for every day they spend in military prison, is a registered non-profit organization and has a license to operate. Like many of the extreme right-wing organizations receiving money from U.S. supporters, the funding for the group enjoys tax-free status. Peace groups and Palestinians have complained to U.S. authorities, but there has been no change in the status of the organizations supporting the right wing.

The human rights organization Yesh Din says not one of the 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians’ trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment.

Police are investigating suspicions of document fraud involving the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), secretary general of the Amana settlement housing group, Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever, and prominent settlement leader Yoel Tzur.

IOA Editor: Historically, fraud has had a key role in the process of Zionist acquisition of Palestinian lands – predating statehood. It continues today, where Israel deceives the world community and international institutions; settlers and their support organizations deceive the Israeli government and public – with the support of Israeli officials and IDF officers who help from within; and, finally, Israel along with the US – its financial partner and the enabler of the Occupation, and the EU, in the guise of the “peace process,” together deceive the Palestinian people – robbing them of their land, resources, and national future.

[U]nlike the Hamas government, our government does not pay the salaries of rabbis who advocate the killing of babies. Is that so? Not really. For example, government ministries regularly transfer support and funding to a yeshiva whose rabbi determined that it is permissible to kill gentile babies “because their presence assists murder, and there is reason to harm children if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us … it is permissible to harm the children of a leader in order to stop him from acting evilly…”

Burin resident discovers 97 of his olive trees destroyed overnight. ‘When I saw the massacre which took place on my land, I cried.’

IOA Editor: Twenty first century Jewish cossacks continue to carry out pogroms against Palestinian farmers. (For the urban version, see Ellen Cantarow’s Heroism in a Vanishing Landscape.”) This is nothing short of a state-sponsored ethnic-cleansing campaign designed to rid “Judea and Samaria” of its Palestinian inhabitants so as to make room for the ever-expanding Jewish State.

“They can go to Syria, Iraq, Jordan. We are six million and they are billions,” said Yehya Gureish, an Arabic-speaking Yemen-born Jew who said his family owned the land and had Ottoman Empire documentation to prove it. “This land is Israel. We are in Israel. God gave this land to the Jews. The Torah tells us so. You want war? Declare war on God, not on us,” he said.

IOA Editor: Clearly, an educated, sensitive Israeli explanation of the root cause of the conflict.

When a settlement is born out of sin, the sin of stolen land, the gun rests during the first act, the act of illegally confiscating the land. But you can count on there always being someone to pull the trigger in the final act.

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