After lunch, which is usually at around 4pm, we decided to go to Wadi Fukin to visit family. I’ve written before about the village which sits directly east of the 1949 armistice line, more commonly referred to as the Green Line. Each time we visit, I am always shocked. This time was worse than I expected. The lush, fertile valley is being closed in by colonies, which will result in Wadi Fukin being surrounded.
Beitar Illit is an illegal colony inhabited by particularly aggressive right-wing nationalist Jews. The colony was first established as an outpost in 1984 on land belonging to the neighbouring village of Husan. Today it is home to around 50,000 colonists. I’ve witnessed its expansion over more than a decade, and it never fails to make me so angry when I am confronted with it. The housing units were first built along the ridge of the hill. Then construction crept down the side of the hill at one end, into the valley of Wadi Fukin (wadi is Arabic for valley).
Today the side of the hill is almost entirely populated by the colonists. Because they are ultra religious, they believe the water source within Wadi Fukin is holy water, and the whole area is a special place for them alone, given by God. Armed colonists often invade the valley to come and swim in the irrigation pools that have been there for generations, the land tended by Palestinians for hundreds of years. Other intimidation of the Palestinians of the valley includes setting fire to trees and poisoning the water wells.
Perversely, Beitar Illit has been awarded the Israel Ministry of Interior’s gold prize, recognizing “responsible management and sustainable urban planning”. It has also received the same ministry’s prize for water conservation in public gardens, urban public institutions, and urban water administration in 2002. Daily life here is Kafkaesque in the extreme.
But there was worse. On the other hill, Tsur Hadasa, which is technically in Israel, ie, on the other side of the armistice line, is now encroaching into Wadi Fukin from the west. The cranes loom menacingly and piles of earth punctuate the ridge as construction continues. I wanted to take some photos so one of my nieces took me up the hill.
The land here is very rocky, with prickly gorse and olive trees planted on terraces. It was quite a climb but within minutes I could see the absolute destruction and disregard for the land of Wadi Fukin. Trees had been uprooted, stones gauged out. It was a mess. Farther in the distance, in what is Israel, the hill remains untouched and flora and fauna is flourishing. I’m not entirely sure where the armistice line is, but the new construction is clearly a very deliberate action to take land within the West Bank at some point to expand the colony. After all, they could easily have built to the west, well within Israel.
Wadi Fukin is entirely Area C, as denoted by the Oslo Accords, the appalling agreement that has given Palestinians the Palestinian Authority and Israel carte blanche to do as it pleases. This means that the homes in Wadi Fukin are under constant threat. I asked my brother in law if the homes closest to the newly built units of Beitar Illit are at risk of being issued demolition orders. He said no, those homes were built quite a few years ago. But the owners have recently planted the land around the building and he is sure that at some point the Israelis will demand the trees are removed.
Back to the western hill, the villagers have rescued what they can and the uprooted trees will be used for fire wood. The construction on both sides of the valley, with colonies and colonists encroaching ever deeper into Wadi Fukin, means that the space for the village and its inhabitants is getting smaller and smaller. Natural growth means that the population is increasing. So while Palestinian land is taken to increase the colonies, the Palestinians are being hemmed in. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Israel on Thursday approved a further stage in plans to build a nine-story Jewish seminary in the heart of a densely-populated Palestinian neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.
According to the Peace Now settlement watchdog, the committee threw out an appeal tabled by a left-wing council member and approved a new stage in plans for a tower block in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied east Jerusalem.
Should the plans be approved by the district planning committee, construction could begin within the coming year, Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP.
“It might take six months to a year until it gets final approval for them to start building,” she said of the plan which was tabled in February.
The building will be used as a yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian residential neighborhood located to the north of the Old City.
Located on the road which links the Old City to Mount Scopus, the area is considered a strategic location and illegal settlement groups have made persistent efforts to take control of its land.
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, indivisible” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.
Both the Palestinians and the international community consider all Israeli construction on land seized in 1967 to be a violation of international law.
This has not stopped Israel from continuing its policy of illegal settlement in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the years.
DOHA – The Hamas Movement said it had had no idea at first who kidnapped and killed three Jewish settlers in the West Bank last June, but it described what happened to them as a natural and legitimate act against the illegitimate Israeli occupation.
This came in an explanatory statement released by the Movement on Saturday evening to clarify inaccurate and incomplete media and press interpretations of remarks made on Friday by head of its political bureau Khaled Mishaal in an interview conducted by Yahoo News.
“We did not have prior knowledge of this act which was done by a group of Hamas members, but we do know that any distressed people living under occupation and oppression could do anything to defend themselves,” the Hamas Movement explained.
“The soldiers and settlers in the West Bank are considered ‘assailants’ and live illegally on usurped and occupied Palestinian land, so the Palestinians have the right to resist them,” the Movement reiterated some of what Mishaal said in the interview.
The Movement also included in its statement some of the remarks that were made by Mishaal during the interview in Arabic. The Palestinian Information Center translated these remarks as follows:
“This group of Hamas members are in Al-Khalil and the Israeli investigations have unveiled lately that they had carried out this operation against those armed settlers who practiced, as thousands of other settlers do, their violence in all Palestinian areas. However, we, as the leadership of Hamas, did not know about that. This was known later on.”
“This is part of the [Palestinian] reaction to the occupation and settlement, because as you know the West Bank is an occupied territory according to the international law and the American standards, and the right to self-defense is guaranteed for all.”
“I am talking about something that has been announced as a result of the recent Israeli investigations. We in the political leadership of Hamas are not sure about that, but if that was true, it would be in the context of self-defense against Israeli occupiers whether they are soldiers or settlers. They are not civilians living in other places; they are living in Jerusalem and the West Bank which are occupied territories in accordance with the international law and the American standards.”
In a related context, member of Hamas’s political bureau Saleh Al-Aruri said that what he had previously stated about the kidnapping of three settlers in the West Bank was not a declaration of responsibility for the operation.
Aruri stated in a press release on Saturday that he had made his remarks in this regard based on the results of the recent Israeli investigations.
“The leadership of the Movement had no idea at the time about the group or the operation, but later it turned out that they were a group of Hamas fighters, and about this context was my talk,” the Hamas official explained.
Occupied Palestine – Yesterday at approximately 5:30 PM in the old city in al-Khalil (Hebron) settlers from the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah threw rocks and water at Palestinians living on Shalala Street. This is a regular occurrence for Palestinian families living close to illegal settlements in al-Khalil. The majority of the time the Israeli military watches from a distance and does not do anything to intervene in the violence and property damage.
One Palestinian, a 35-year old man, documented the stone throwing only to be detained and then arrested by the Israeli military. The man was taken through a yellow gate to an area from which Palestinians are restricted, where the soldiers pushed him around.
The soldiers threw several stun grenades at Palestinians and internationals standing behind the yellow gate who were trying to document what was happening through holes of the gate.
Two internationals walked through the checkpoint at the Ibrahimi mosque and down Shuhada street in attempt to find the Palestinian. A group of ten soldiers and an army jeep stood with two Palestinian men, the man who had been arrested was in handcuffs. A nearby soldier told the internationals that neither of the men was arrested but they were only bringing the handcuffed man in for questioning, to gather evidence about the settlers who threw stones. After approximately five minutes the solders blindfolded the Palestinian and started walking with him to a nearby army base, Beit Romano. When internationals asked why the man was being blindfolded an Israeli soldier stated, “Because I want to.”
The man was released earlier this morning.
Occupied Palestine – The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is placing a call out for volunteers to join us in the West Bank now, and for the olive harvest beginning in October.
We need solidarity activists to support the Palestinian popular struggle by joining protests and demonstrations, to document and report on the crimes committed by both the Israeli military and the colonial settlers living on Palestinian land throughout the West Bank, and to stand alongside Palestinian communities as they face occupation and apartheid.
ISM is also sending an urgent call for volunteers to join the 2014 olive harvest campaign, beginning in October.
ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence while working their land. Palestinian communities state that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army. Your presence can make a big difference.
The olive tree is a Palestinian national symbol, and the Israeli military systematically prevents agricultural fruition in order to make life for Palestinians more difficult. The Israeli occupation provides a platform for Palestinian rights to be violated in an array of ways; the attack on agriculture is at the forefront.
Already documented this year, and to list a few cases; the trees have suffered settler sewage runoff, sabotaging fires, and being cut down. Olive trees comprise of an essential 14% of the Palestinian agricultural economy.
We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation and practical support, which enables many families to pick their olives.
The campaign will begin in October and will last around 6-8 weeks. We ask that volunteers start arriving at the end of September, so that we will be prepared when the harvest begins. Usually we require a two week commitment from volunteers, however during the olive harvest a one week commitment is sufficient. All volunteers must attend a two-day training before they join ISM, trainings run on Wednesdays and Thursdays as long as the trainers are available. Please see the join ISM page or contact email@example.com for further information.
HEBRON – Undercover Israeli forces detained a Hamas leader in the town of Beit Ummar on Thursday, a local community leader said.
The spokesperson of Beit Ummar’s popular committee said Israeli forces from an undercover unit who disguise themselves as Palestinians, known in Hebrew as Mistaravim, kidnapped Ahmad Khader Abed Abu Maria, 47, from his house at 10 a.m.
His relative, Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, was shot and killed during a Gaza solidarity protest in the town on July 25.
Locals in the town said they noticed 15 masked men hiding in an ice-cream truck in the town and began throwing stones at the vehicle.
The masked men, who were undercover Israeli forces, fired live ammunition at the villagers, with no injuries reported.
Israeli soldiers then fired tear gas canisters at locals who had attempted to push back the undercover unit, who retreated to the nearby illegal Karmi Tsur settlement.
Israeli forces also raided the home of Muhammad Munir Radwan Qawqas, 36, and pointed a gun at his mother.
He was blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to Etzion military base.
Muhammad is an ex-prisoner who spent 10 years in Israeli prisons. He is a married father of two girls and teaches Hebrew in a school in Bethlehem.
Israeli forces also detained Usama Mahmoud Awad Kamil, 26, and Ahmad Khaled Mahmoud Kamil, 26, in the Jenin village of Qabatiya.
SALFIT – A Palestinian man was killed on Thursday after being knocked down by a settler car near the illegal settlement of Barkan in Salfit.
Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Muhammad Abd al-Karim Muhammad Abu Isleim, 23, was hit while trying to cross a street near the settlement.
Israeli police officers and ambulances arrived at the scene and tried to save the victim, but he was pronounced dead.
Palestinian police are investigating the incident to determine whether the settler deliberately hit the victim.
Israeli troops burst into family’s home looking for weapons. They didn’t find any, but made away with the gold
The time: 02:00 AM, late June, 2014, during Operation Brother’s Keeper. The place: the village of Einbus in the northern West Bank. A large group of soldiers burst into the house of Moyser Khassan Ahmed Khamed, and demanded that the residents all gather in one room. Then they pulled some of them for interrogation, which was carried out with yelling, and heard by the entire household.
The soldiers came to Khamed’s house for a clear and legal military purpose: searching for weapons. Naturally, they didn’t bother to present or even get a search warrant; such protection is invalid in the territories held – temporarily, of course – under occupation, for slightly more than 47 years. According to Khamed’s testimony, the soldiers caused widespread damage to the house. They destroyed three cellphones and an iPad; they broke some of the walls, smashed a kitchen table, ripped the coverings off chairs. Khamed’s daughter, Isra, had a doll collection, collected over some years; she asked the soldiers to leave the dolls unharmed. The soldiers, according to Khamed, broke the dolls nevertheless. For dessert, the soldiers smashed the doors of Khamed’s husband’s car, ripped out the fillings of the chairs, and dislodged the engine.
No weapons were found in this search. But when the Khamed household finished tallying the damage left by the IDF, the found that some items were missing. To begin with, some 5,000 NIS in cash went missing from a drawer, where they had been kept for Ramadan purchases. If this was a seizure of funds, and the IDF did say there has been a massive seizure of money – some 1.2 million NIS – then the soldiers were supposed to leave documents proving that that is what it was. In their absence, our assumption is that until proven otherwise, this is not a seizure, it’s looting.
Particularly when it comes not to cash, which can always be said to be used for nefarious goals, but jewelry. According to Khamed’s testimony, aside from the money, the following items were also missing: six golden bracelets, bought as gifts for her son’s engagement, as well as a necklace containing gold coins, and several rings. The worth of the taken jewelry – which, again. We assume were looted until proven otherwise – is some 15,000 NIS. Aside from that, a smartphone has also gone missing. Again, there may be a legitimate reason to seize the device – but such a seizure has to be supported by documentation, and none was presented.
The family intends to notify the MPCID. Yesh Din calls upon the MPCID to implement the conclusions of the Turkel Report, and carry out an efficient, thorough – and speedy investigation; and, assuming enough evidence against the looter or looters is gathered, file a severe indictment against them. Again, looting is a war crime.
Looting in the occupied territories has always been whispered about, not openly discussed. But this isn’t the first time we document cases of looted jewelry. Operation Brother’s Keeper was followed by a series of complaints about looting; our files document, so far, at least eight cases of seizure of property without proper documentation – that is, cases in which suspicion of looting has risen. We will keep on publishing these stories in the coming weeks. The Israeli media will not report them; but we think that you, the public community, hearing about this army, which claims to be the most moral in the world, ought to know what it actually does.
As the Israeli Central Court of Jerusalem releases three youth accused in the recent homicide of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, another young Palestinian is found stabbed to death in Silwan, while a 13-year-old child is arrested under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Over the past month, during Israel’s relentless and bloody aggressions on the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem area has become a crucible of violent confrontations between Palestinians and colonial Jewish settlers and police, with numerous reports of multiple raids and ensuing arrests continuing to surface throughout the West Bank region.
Just following the Israeli Central Court’s decision not to hold three youth who admittedly conspired in the brutal torture and burning of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudeir, in early July, local media reported that the police found the body of another young Palestinian in Silwan, south of the Old City of Jerusalem.
PNN sources say that the body had several visible stab wounds but that the Israeli police have declared that the motive behind the crime is not clear.
Meanwhile, Silwanic has reported that Israeli police took into custody one 13-year-old Daoud Sawalha, Thursday night, while he was at the barber shop, in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh, under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Each year, around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system, with the majority of Palestinian child detainees being held on charges of throwing stones.
The same day, Silwanic reported that three Israeli settlers attempted to run over a Jerusalemite woman named Ola Alayan, as she was going home to her Bet Safafa residence, south of Jerusalem.
She was verbally assaulted by the settlers but was able to escape the area and safely reach the entrance of the village.
As in the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was also chosen at random and not for personal reasons, not all Jerusalemite Palestinians are so lucky.
On Thursday, July 31st, a young Palestinian man from Ras Alamoud was reported to have been assaulted by a group of Israeli settlers who attempted to kidnap him after tying him and dragging him to their car.
When the group failed to drag him to their vehicle, they assaulted 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Abbasi with a large amount of pepper spray.
Ali’s father confirmed that a fellow co-worker took his son to the hospital, after ambulance and police failed to respond.
The week prior, Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz, both 20 years old and from Beit Khanina, were attacked by settlers with iron bars and baseball bats while walking to a Light Rail station, following the evening Ramadan meal.
The two were seriously wounded and lost consciousness during the beating, upon which they were hospitalized in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem.
Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property is not new to the region, but has been in a state of extreme escalation since the beginning of Israel’s renewed series of attacks on Gaza’s civilian population, with mass solidarity protests resulting in further violent confrontations.
Reports of vandalism, including that of agricultural lands, homes and vehicles, as well as both Christian and Muslim holy sites frequently surface from numerous locations all across Israel and occupied Palestine, with the majority of such acts being perpetrated by colonial settlers, and often with the backing of Israeli military and/or police.
A recent statement by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reveals that 60-80,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents have been without running water for months, with no further reports appearing in regard to appeals made to Hagihon and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Israeli policies against Palestinians have isolated entire communities and turned them into fragmented, isolated ghettos, leaving what remains of the occupied Palestinian territories to now appear as little more than large open-air prisons, from which militant resistance and defiance is the only defense.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – In al-Khalil (Hebron) on Sunday August 3rd, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was walking to his home near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba when the Israeli military shot him in the chest with live ammunition.
The following day, ISM volunteers went to visit the young boy in al-Mezan hospital. The young boy was in critical condition, and although doctors were able to save his life, the bullet remains in his left lung, as it is too dangerous to remove it.
His father told the ISM volunteers that a relative of the boy witnessed the shooting and that it had been a man in a soldiers’ uniform that shot him, without any visible motive. His father also pointed out that even if there had been a motive, such as if the boy would have been throwing stones, nothing could have justified this shot, which was clearly aimed at the heart of this 10-year-old child.
A funeral for a soldier that died in Gaza was held in the Tel Rumeida area of al-Khalil between 1 AM and 3 AM last Sunday evening. The area was under heavy military presence, shop owners were forced to close down their shops early and Palestinians living in the area received orders stay in their homes and turn the lights off. Doctors at al-Mezan hospital have reported that in recent weeks there has been an increase in the number of bullet wounds resulting from live ammunition. Many of these wounds have been in the chest and abdomen, seemingly aimed to kill.
On 30 July 2014, Israelis entered into Palestinian shops in Hebron’s Old City near Beit Hadassah with industrial tools, using cutting blades and torches to open the doors, despite the presence of Israeli military security who were overlooking the shops.
Christian Peacemaker Teams and the International Solidarity Movement volunteers made several attempts to advise the Israeli military and police to intervene on the breaking and entering into the Palestinian shops. Despite showing the Israeli military video evidence of the account, the police failed to show up and intervene.
The following day, Israeli settler children during the afternoon threw rocks down from the Beit Hadassah settlement onto Palestinians walking on the street below the settlement. Later on that night, settlers again re-entered the property despite the Israeli military having designated the area a closed military zone for Israeli settlers and Palestinians alike.
|Settler jumps on awning after throwing stones at Palestinians
This incident is not an isolated event, but rather represents a larger strategy to occupy and claim ownership of Palestinians’ shops and expand the Jewish settlements in Hebron, as happened when the settlements of Tel Rumeida, Beit Hadassah, Kiryat Arba, the Al Rajabi building, Avraham Avinu and Givat Ha’avot expanded.
Currently, Palestinians are at risk of losing their property at over twenty-three geographic areas across the H2 section of Hebron. The locations start from Palestinian land on top of Tel Rumeida where the Israeli Antiquities Authority has allocated seven million shekels to build a tourist attraction—followed by another “Israeli” only by-pass road that is slated to connect the Tel Rumeida settlement to Shuhada Street. They represent the Israeli settlers’ master plan to segment off a crescent shape from the Jewish cemetery to the west of the Old City of Hebron to the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which will enclose Palestinians in an apartheid labyrinth. Palestinian Bantustans that already exist will expand, adding to the system of over one hundred military check points, pathway closures, additional annexations of Palestinian shops, and Israeli-only roads in Hebron.
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.]