Bil’in, Occupied Palestine – On October 21st, Human Rights Defender Abdallah Abu Rahma was found guilty by an Israeli military court of “disturbing a soldier”.
“Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offence. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the [Israeli] military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation.” Stated Gabi Lasky, lawyer of Abdallah Abu Rahma, to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Abdallah spoke to the ISM about his recent conviction. “Yesterday the military court ruled that I was guilty, showing once again that they stand on the side of the occupation, and not that of truth and justice.
I was arrested on the 13th of May 2012 in front of Ofer Military prison at a demonstration commemorating the Nakba and in solidarity with the prisoners, many of whom were on hunger strike. I was imprisoned in Ofer for 16 months a year earlier, for my role in the non-violent demonstrations in my village, Bil’in, against the Apartheid wall and settlements built on our land.
This time when I was arrested I was held for a few hours and released on bail, I was not summoned to court until the beginning of 2013, following the success of the popular committees in the construction of the Palestinians villages Bab Al Shams and Bab Al Manatir.”
Abdallah Abu Rahmah is the coordinator of the Bil’in popular committee, which began popular demonstrations against the Apartheid wall and settlements in January 2005. The route of the Apartheid wall originally planned to separate the village form 50% of its agricultural land. As a result of the village’s continued popular struggle, the route was changed and 25% of the village land was effectively annexed by the wall to the illegal settlement of Modiin Elite.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested and injured by Israeli forces in Bil’in since the popular struggle in the village began. In 2009 during a demonstration, Bassam Abu Rahmah was shot directly in the chest with a high velocity tear-gas projectile, dying of his wounds minutes later. On Januray 1st 2011, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died of poisoning after inhaling excessive amounts of tear gas during the weekly demonstration the previous day.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The land research center said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) established fake graves in Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, as part of feverish steps to Judaize the Arab history and identity of the holy city.
In a report released on Friday, the center stated that Zionist settler groups in cooperation with the nature and parks authority planted tombs built of stone on a tract of Palestinian land located between Silwan district and the Umayyad Palaces area, south of the Aqsa Mosque.
It noted that the tombs, engraved with the Star of David, were made look like age-old ones and presented to tourists as Jewish graves built before 1948.
“Such step confirms once again that the occupation state is seeking on purpose to fake the history of Jerusalem in violation of the international norms and laws that demand it not to make changes to any land under its occupation,” the center underlined.
The center also warned that creating fake graves enables Israel to seize more areas in east Jerusalem.
News about developments of the Palestinian issue continue to pour in through all media outlets, and statements and political speeches do not stop, but we hardly hear about the core and essence of the Palestinian issue which is the problem of Palestinian refugees.
Most of the actions related to finding a solution for the Palestinian case revolve around the establishment of a Palestinian state, or the so-called two-state solution. Meanwhile the issue of the refugees remains excluded, or marginalised, from these steps, in light of very weak hints by Palestinian politicians.
In the United Nations there are Palestinians and Arabs who mention the suffering of the Palestinian refugees with implicit sentences in order to get sympathy from those who have none. On the internal Palestinian front, there is a clear absence of the issue of refugees in all educational, cultural and media related facilities, and it is rare for the issue to be a topic of debate or discussion, whether private or public. As for the international arena, the world is completely silent about this issue and we don’t hear countries or human rights organisations putting the case up for discussion.
The Palestinian cause is torn into pieces after it was a whole cause that represented an entire people, but it was transformed into one of many issues such as an independent mini-state, a non-member state at the UN, settlements, a speech for Mahmoud Abbas at the UN, salaries, tax revenues collected by Israel, the war on Gaza, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and other issues.
The Palestine case is first and foremost the case of refugees; it is the case of a people, who were expelled from their homeland, and in its essence, it is a case of a people who live in camps under very difficult economic and social conditions and it is not a secondary case.
It is true that the secondary issues are important, but they are not a priority, and we should not allow them to affect the issue of Palestinian refugees or overstep its high priority amongst the Arab and Palestinian interests.
If there is a solution to the Palestinian case, it can’t be realised without including a program to facilitate the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties occupied in 1948. This is why the issue of refugees must be the main concern for all those who seek peace in the Arab and Islamic region and on the international level. All those who try to evade the acknowledgment of the rights of Palestinian refugees are actually evading serious efforts to find a solution for the case, and are trying to keep the Arab and Islamic worlds in constant war, and are threatening world peace.
The right of return
Countries, international conventions and human rights organisations always talk about human rights, but such talk always stops when it comes to the rights of Palestinian refugees. International conventions, religious teachings and history lessons all acknowledge the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and so many countries, mainly large ones, call for the return of refugees and expelled people to their homes and properties, but these countries become silent when it comes to Palestinian refugees. Even the United Nations did not live up to its responsibility when it settled for only issuing UN Security Council Resolution 242 which calls for a just solution for the issue of refugees without mentioning who these refugees are, and without talking about specific international conventions related to refugees, and without confirming the General Assembly’s Resolution 194 for the year 1948 concerning the return of Palestinian refugees.
International norms state that countries in conflict must first look for ways to face humanitarian problems before starting negotiations about political, economic and security problems. Humanitarian problems have a priority over all other issues, and that’s why countries at war always start with talking about two vital issues: refugees and prisoners.
First, they agree to return refugees or those who were displaced due to the war, and then they agree to swap prisoners. Those two issues did not get prioritised in the Palestinian case, and Israel’s security remained the main issue that dominated negotiations between Israel, the PLO and the Arab regimes.
For many years, the negotiations table acted as a support for Israeli security while the displaced Palestinians had to stand guard at the gates of the Israeli kingdom.
And instead of looking for arrangements for the return of Palestinian refugees, the search was focused on how the Palestinians must provide security and military services to Israel. Some Palestinians had to commit moral crimes against themselves where they would defend Israel’s security while Israeli warplanes were killing children, destroying homes, and their army was confiscating lands and building settlements.
The meaning of justice was changed during the negotiations between the Arabs and Israel, as the meaning of justice now meant the defence of settlers and Israel’s right to exhaust the Palestinians, crush them, kill them and destroy their homes. Justice now meant protecting Israel, its security and its interest, as well as the absence of the case of Palestinian refugees.
The harshest blow to Palestinians’ morale as a result of this change was the fact that refugees who grew up and lived in refugee camps were now defending Israel’s security. There are Palestinian refugees who work as leaders in Palestinian security services and coordinate with Israel against their own people and nation.
The search for a state
The issue of establishing a Palestinian state was not presented as a Palestinian constant that must be fought for; there were only two constants: the right of return and the right to self-determination.
The idea of establishing a Palestinian or Arab authority in the land occupied in 1967 was only raised once in 1968 by Zionist Yigal Alon who presented a proposal for a solution for the Palestinian case in cooperation with Jordan. Juldamir repeated the idea in 1973, but former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was clearer when he, in 1978, proposed the establishment of a Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Bethlehem as its capital, and where it would have a police that is armed by Israel in order to enforce internal order. However, Ariel Sharon is the one who adopted the idea practically and sought to establish a Palestinian Authority by means establishing the Village League system for this purpose.
The Palestinian Liberation Organisation refused the idea at all its stages and considered accepting the establishment of a Palestinian Authority and autonomy to be treason that should be punished by death. The translation of this rejection was in the form of the PLO’s assassination of Yousef Al-Khatib, the head of the Village League in Ramallah.
However, time showed us that the position of the PLO was not based on national principles, but on the PLO’s vision and idea of who should be leading the national treason. This is why it easily accepted the signing of the Oslo agreement which represents a bad copy of the Menachem Begin proposal for the establishment of Palestinian autonomy.
It was clear in the PLO’s agenda for 1974 that it was moving towards accepting autonomy and the establishment of a Palestinian Authority. The official Palestinian position evolved after that into a search for a state in light of the Zionist occupation, and then Palestinian media outlets adopted the idea of establishing this state so it would become a Palestinian constant, while it is actually close to being an Israeli constant as Israel is the one that initially proposed the idea.
The state at the expense of the right of return
It was important for the Palestinian leadership to adopt the idea of establishing the state and using it to distract the Palestinian people from it, which was at the expense of right of return. It was clear from the actions of the Palestinian leadership in both the internal and external arenas that it had given up on the right of return and that it is only providing media services in this regard in order to throw dust in the eyes of the Palestinians.
This is a result of a conviction formed by this leadership that believed that Israel would never agree to the right of return, and that insisting on it would completely abort all other efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the case, and that if the Palestinian people wanted peace with Israel, they would have to give up on the right of return first, and also give up their right to self-determination.
After the Oslo accord, Palestinians started realising that many security officers began to publicly say that demanding the right of return will stand in the way of the peace process with Israel. I heard, with my own ears, Palestinians saying that those who want the right of return do not want peace in the region.
As for the right to self-determination, it is clear that the PLO and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority do not mention it, even though the UN General Assembly recognised the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination in 1974.
The Palestinian Authority, and those with it, exert so much effort to remind the people of the UN General Assembly’s resolution relating to recognising Palestine as a non-state member at the UN, but they do not bother to remind people of the right to self-determination which is much more important than the recognition resolution, because the establishment of a state is included in the right to self-determination.
The Palestinian leadership, as well as the Arab regimes, are evading the refugees’ right of return. Their overlooking of the clause in the Arab Initiative regarding the refugees shows the irresoluteness of the Palestinian and Arab positions towards this issue.
This clause states the importance of looking for a just solution for the refugees’ case (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242) in light of the General Assembly’s Resolution 194 which concerns the refugees’ right of return.
The truth is that this decision circumvents the issue of refugees, or at best presents it in a vague manner, while this is supposed to be clear and unambiguous, and should explicitly state the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties in the land occupied in 1948, and the text must leave no room for misinterpretation that the right of return would be to the land occupied in 1967.
The irresolute positions of the different factions
The Palestinian factions were not serious in their position towards the Oslo agreement and the consequent decline in Palestinian positions, as well as the decline of the Palestinian cause on the regional and international arena. The Oslo agreement did not eliminate the refugees’ right of return, but it postponed looking into it. This delay is considered a national crime. On the other hand, acknowledging Israel, certainly involves denying the refugees’ right of return.
It was expected for those who agreed with the Oslo accords to follow the national standard which has been followed since the British mandate and which called for boycotting all those who cooperate with the enemy and belittle Palestinian rights.
The Palestinian factions that are part of the PLO immediately built friendly relations with those that signed and accepted the Oslo Accords, and asked the Palestinian Authority for jobs for their members. Their leaders started to hold meetings with those who were cooperating with Israel on the security and civil levels, while continuing to issue statements of verbal abuse and insults against Oslo.
On the other hand, Islamic factions did not boycott those who cooperated with the occupation either and some of their leaders also asked for jobs for their sons and matters even reached the point of these factions going under the umbrella of the Oslo Supporters after the 2014 war.
These factions who supported the Oslo agreement led negotiations on behalf of the Palestinian resistance, and none of the resistance leaders mentioned, neither during the war nor during negotiations, the right of return. This has put all factions in the same trench; a matter that requires the Palestinian people to intensify their efforts to preserve their inalienable national rights.
Translated by MEMO from Al Jazeera net
The Anadolu news agency reported a statement for Zoabi saying she had informed the Israeli police of her plan to appeal to the Israeli court against the “arbitrary” banning of women from entering the mosque.
She did not disclose with which court she was planning to file the appeal, but the process starts by filing an appeal to the magistrate court, then to the district court then to the High Court.
Zoabi described Israel’s ban on Palestinian women entering Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “dangerous precedent”, noting that the reason behind banning them is their role in “facing the settlers’ desecration of the mosque” in recent months.
For more than two months, Israeli police have banned women from entering the mosque from time to time. “They [Palestinian women] formed the front defence line against the Israeli violations and aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Zoabi said.
The Knesset member said she had sent a written letter to the Israeli Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich informing him of the “violations” committed by the Israeli police and Israeli border guards against women around and inside the holy site.
She noted in her letter that the violations and aggression on Palestinian women and banning them from entering into the mosque “undermines and ignores” their freedom. She also stressed that the lack of punishment against aggressors is a “green light” for more violations.
For about two months, the Israeli settlers, including extremist officials such as Knesset Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin have stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on almost a daily basis.
Palestinians remain inside the mosque trying to prevent such aggressions, but the Israeli police and occupation forces took measures to secure the settlers including preventing women and men under the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa’s grounds.
Yesterday, 20 Palestinians, including women, were wounded in clashes in the mosque and seven others were arrested, including minors.
|This photo was taken in a supermarket in Gilo – an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem – by an activist who documented the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the settlements of Gilo (pop. 28,980), Pisgat Ze’ev (pop. 39,748) and Ma’ale Adumim (pop. 35,673), and in the industrial park of Mishor Edomim, which services Ma’ale Adumim.|
Ben & Jerry’s Caters to Illegal Israeli Settlements
In August, 2011, an Israeli Jewish activist working with us contacted Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel, by e-mail and telephone, and confirmed that the company delivers ice cream to Israeli settlements in the occupied territory. Here is an e-mail communication, translated into English, between an employee at the factory and the Israeli activist, discussing arrangements for an ice cream cart to travel to the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim:
B&J Employee: Thanks for writing. Our ice cream cart comes with 5 flavors to choose from, glasses, wafers, ice cream toppings, 2 stewards and all accessories. The cost for 250 people (free distribution); 3,500 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), or $919 US] including VAT. Attached is a list of flavors. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Activist: Is there an extra cost that relates to the distance of your factory to the location of the party? i.e., is there an extra cost because the event is held in Ma’ale Adumin? I’m sorry about the need for detail but it’s necessary for our accounting department.
B&J Employee: Yes, the cost of transportation is 250 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), $65 US]. This is because we come from Be’er Tuvia (near Kiryat Malachi) to Ma’ale Adumim.
Israeli Settlements are Illegal Under International Law
Israel’s settlements in the Palestinian Territory violate Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which declares that “the Occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The commentary to the Convention states that this provision was intended “to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territory. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”
Transfer of settlers to occupied territory by an occupying power is also an international war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the UN Security Council and General Assembly, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and most legal scholars have concluded that Israel’s settlements in the oPt contravene international law. The International Court of Justice declared in a 2004 decision that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”
Ben & Jerry’s business in illegal Israeli settlements also violates its obligations under the U.N.’s “Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises,” which asserts that corporations “shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, [or] crimes against humanity…” nor take actions that obstruct or impede economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
[Citations for the references above are in Our Report on Ben & Jerry’s business practices in the occupied Palestinian Territory.]
|The Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at stores both in Israel and in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory.
The map at left, with dots denoting the locations of their stores, was displayed in their store in Mishor Adumim (an industrial zone that services one of Israel’s largest settlements, Ma’ale Adumim). Notice that it depicts Israel and occupied Palestine as one state. Palestinians under occupation are not allowed to enter most Israeli settlements, so the supermarkets in those places only sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Jewish settlers.
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel Calls on Ben & Jerry’s to:
Until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in compliance with international law:
- End the marketing, catering and sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- Stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel.
- Issue a statement (a) calling on Israel to end its occupation and settlement enterprise and (b) appealing directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to cease business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements.
Click here to send a message to
Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont.
Tell Ben & Jerry’s that its complicity in Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements is wrong and must stop!
Boycott Divestment & Sanctions:
In Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel’s opposition to Ben & Jerry’s business practices in Israel and occupied Palestine is motivated by the grave human rights abuses being committed by the State of Israel. We are are also aware that in 2005 Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with three rights codified in international law.
- End Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle its separation wall;
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations Resolution 194.
|Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim, said in an interview:
“My mantra that I’ve repeated a hundred times since starting at Ben & Jerry’s is: ‘Change is a wonderful thing,’…. The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel agrees: The world – including Israel-Palestine
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an that a group of settlers broke the doors and windows of the Abu Baker al-Saddiq mosque and vandalized the interior with racist slogans.
The settlers then set fire to part of the mosque before being chased away by Palestinian villagers.
Locals managed to extinguish the fire and prevent it from burning down the whole mosque.
In Jan. 2014, settlers torched a mosque in Salfit and sprayed “Arabs out!” on the building.
Settlers in the occupied West Bank attack Palestinians and their property routinely yet rarely face prosecution by Israeli authorities.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Today in al-Khalil (Hebron), as part of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, thousands of settlers and Zionist tourists descended upon the city. The Israeli military presence in Hebron, which is already a large and oppressive part of everyday life, greatly increased.
Hebron is the only city in the West Bank where there is an illegal settlement in the heart of the city. It is split into H1 and H2, H1 under Palestinian Authority Control, and H2 under Israeli military control.
This morning, in both the Salaymeh and Qeitun neighbourhoods, the checkpoints designating the end of H1 were extended further into Palestinian territory.
Israeli soldiers drove between Salaymeh and Qeitun, entering houses, hiding in alleyways, and aiming their guns at passing schoolchildren and other people in the area.
In the afternoon, the army presence was just as heavy, with children walking home past heavily armed soldiers.
In H1, Bab al-Zawiye (the centre of Hebron), Israeli forces partially closed the road to allow settlers and Zionist tourists through the checkpoint to visit a religious holy site.
They were escorted by approximately 45 Israeli border police and soldiers. Several Palestinian shops were forced to close for several hours, to allow the setters and tourists to pass.
The Ibrahimi mosque and nearby checkpoint was also closed today, with all Palestinian shops in the area forced to close with it.
HEBRON – Israeli soldiers raided a private Palestinian home in Hebron on Sunday morning and turned the third floor of the house into a military post, the owner said.
Salim al-Salayma told Ma’an that Israeli troops broke into his house in the al-Baqaa neighborhood in eastern Hebron and locked him and his 17 family members on the first floor.
While the family was locked on the first floor, al-Salayma said, Israeli soldiers brought military equipment to the third floor, turning it to a military post.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Israeli forces regularly occupy the homes of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank located in what they deem sensitive areas to conduct surveillance and enforce control.
Local sources confirmed that Palestinian farmers confronted the settlers and prevented further damage to their olive groves located near Tafuh settlement.
Israeli settlers and forces have daily carried out systematic attacks against olive groves especially during olive harvest in order to prevent the farmers from picking their own fruits.
Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli settlers stormed Friday morning Suleiman pools south of Bethlehem in the West Bank, local and media sources said.
The sources pointed out that the settlers performed Talmudic rituals in the ancient pools area in total provocation to the local residents.
WAFA news agency quoted a Palestinian security source as saying that 70 settlers from Efrat settlement stormed the pools area under heavy Israeli forces protection and started performing their rituals.
Israeli settlers used to storm Suleiman pools in an attempt to impose a status quo in the area.
The pools, which were built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, are located between Artas and Al-Khader villages south of Bethlehem.
There is a war going on and it long predates Israel’s summer Gaza onslaught. It is a war on water, and it runs deep. For the last decade, Israel has been carrying out a systemic and willful campaign to deny Palestinians access to clean water.
Though Israel’s campaign to restrict water access has yet to make the news, rights organizations are pushing the Palestinian Authority to take the issue to court, so the matter could well make headlines in the coming months. While the PA has been debating whether or not to accede to the International Criminal Court, increasing documentation of war crimes may push their hand.
Under international law, deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is a war crime, and as of 2010, water and sanitation were enshrined as basic human rights. Israel has blatantly and systemically been denying these rights.Through growing documentation and awareness, Israel’s systemic campaign against Palestinian water can be seen for what it is: a comprehensive violation of one of the most basic human rights. It consists of a two-pronged approach: the visible mass destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, reinforced by invisible policies of closure and occupation, siege and confiscation that block the repair of infrastructure. Together, these tactics prevent the existence of sustainable Palestinian communities, driving people from their land, their homes, and communities.
The first tool of Israel’s water war has been well documented. It includes direct and extensive damage caused deliberately during large-scale military operations. In the latest Israeli military operation in Gaza this meant Israeli aircraft targeted the sewage pump station and F16s disabled pumps that sent 25,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day to Gaza’s main sewage treatment plant. Further Israeli shelling east of Gaza City hit a main water pipeline, disconnecting areas east of the city so that 450,000 were completely cut off from municipal services, and the more than 1.5 million residents of the strip suffered massively reduced access.
The losses in water infrastructure alone from this latest series of strikes have been estimated at $30 million. This is not taking into account the massive toll on health, with 100,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage flowing through the streets of Gaza and into the sea, causing widespread health problems. This meant over-burdened hospitals, without water themselves, were dealing with digestive ailments, skin allergies, water-borne and respiratory diseases.
UN investigations from the 2008-9 attacks on Gaza already affirmed that Israel’s targeting of water infrastructure was “deliberate and systematic.” The September meeting of the Russell Tribunal, charged with investigating rights violations from this summer’s atrocities, has reached similar conclusions.
And while arguments will no doubt be made about the fog of war or the targeting of water infrastructure as accidental or as collateral damage, this line of defense is weakened when such military attacks are seen as part of a longer-term systemic program. For example, in the 2001-2 invasion of Jenin, the same policy of intentional damage to water equipment during military assault was used. Invasions caused massive damage to water and wastewater infrastructure, cutting off water services to civilians for weeks.
Even more insidious has been the slow but deliberate damage to water infrastructure that has taken place as part of the day-to-day of occupation. This damage can be seen both in the West Bank, as well as in the agricultural lands of Gaza that have, since 2005, been declared as a border ‘buffer’ zone by the Israeli military.
Official documentation has catalogued demolition by Israeli forces of 173 different pieces of water, sanitation, or hygiene infrastructure in Area C of the West Bank between 2009 and 2011. This has included the confiscation of water tankers, which are used as an emergency measure when access to water is prohibited. In the Gaza border zone – which swallows up some 17 percent of Gaza’s landmass – 305 agricultural wells were destroyed between 2005 and 2013.
In addition, Jewish settlers in the illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank regularly carry out acts of vandalism and destruction that specifically target Palestinian water sources, and frequently take over natural springs for their own recreational use.
These settlers are acting within a clear Israeli policy that sees targeting of water resources as an acceptable method of warfare.
The destruction of generations-old water infrastructure such as historic cisterns or springs not only deprives marginalized communities of water but destroys an important element of Palestinian history and the community’s organic relationship with natural resources. Further, by depriving farmers of water, Israeli policies drive them off their land. Loss of agricultural income resulting from de-developed water infrastructure is estimated at $1.44 billion annually.
Though Israel has total control over the building, development, or maintenance of water infrastructure in Area C – where permission is systemically denied – it also maintains indirect control in all areas of the West Bank, where it can – and often does – prohibit the building of water treatment, irrigation, or industrial facilities.
Evidence of water warfare, and deliberate efforts to use water as a weapon against Palestinian civilian populations, is being documented at all levels, and efforts continue to bring awareness to all those affected. Israel’s water war has continued with impunity for far too long and must be challenged before its effects are irreversible.
The Bedouin Jahalin Tribe had a historic existence roaming the expansive lands in the Naqab Desert which ended abruptly when the State of Israel was declared. Most joined the thousands of Palestinians fleeing, and the group was splintered and scattered.
Many of the Jahalin continued to herd their livestock between Ramallah, Wadi Qelt and Jerusalem until large swathes of land were confiscated to make way for mushrooming Israeli settlements following the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank. Some squeezed into the area off the Jerusalem-Jericho highway, which, after the Oslo Accords fell under complete Israeli military and administrative control. In order to expand the vast Ma’ale Adumim settlement, Israel razed some of the homes and packed their inhabitants away on trucks to live in containers beside a rubbish dump. The separation wall was then built severing the remaining community from East Jerusalem, the main market where they sold the milk and cheese made from their remaining livestock.
The semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin, hinged on land and livestock, has been continuously chipped away by Israel’s policy of demolitions and displacements. Now, sixty years after the Jahalin were first made refugees, they face being uprooted again as Israel advances plans to “relocate” 12,500 Bedouins from where they reside in the Jerusalem periphery. The plan is reminiscent of the Prawer Plan, the bill approved by the Israeli Knesset in 2011 to relocate some 40,000 Bedouin-Palestinian citizens of Israel from ‘unrecognised villages‘ into townships which was eventually frozen following mass protests within Israel.
This time the Israeli administration has said they won’t put the Jahalin on trucks as they did during the mass eviction in 1997, but they will take immediate action to demolish their residences and agricultural buildings, “because there is an alternative here”. The alternative referred to is a purpose built township north of the West Bank city of Jericho, where they will be lumped with two other tribes- against Bedouin customs- each family allotted a housing plot and a small area unsuitable for the rearing of livestock. A total of 23 communities will be herded into the area.
Jameel Hamadin, a Bedouin facing eviction said: “These areas do not suit our lifestyle or our traditions or our culture.” He added in his address to the European Union: “If they deport us to the city, our lifestyle will end.” The communities previously evicted were housed in Al- Jabal village on expropriated Palestinian land. The United National Committee of Economic Social and Cultural Rights “deplored the manner” those relocated were “housed in steel container vans in a garbage dump in Abu Dis in Subhuman conditions”. Their traditional lifestyle was destroyed by the move.
Israel has justified its expulsion plan through the rhetoric of improving Bedouin living conditions by allowing them to live in places with “suitable infrastructure” and as an appropriate response to the “dynamic changes” that Bedouin society is undergoing as it moves from an agricultural society “to a modern society that earns its living by commerce, services, technical trade and more”.
For the Bedouin, who claim they were not consulted about the plans, this is just another attempt to remove them from strategic land, one that they fear will destroy their traditional way of life for good. Abu Suleiman, head of the Jerusalem Bedouins’ Community Cooperative, asks “why do they not let us build here if they want to improve our living conditions”.
Residing in tin shack like structures perched on the unforgiving hillside terrain; many overlook the continuous construction in Ma’ale Adumim settlement. The homes in the settlement have running water, power, their occupants have access to medical services and top notch schools for their children. In contrast Israel does not allow the Bedouin community to gain access to running water and electricity, and prevents the building of permanent structures and even the tin shacks, which are no match for Israeli bulldozers, stand with the daily threat of demolition.
Under the contentious E1 plan the area of land that the Bedouin currently call home is to be turned into an urban block connecting Ma’ale Adumin and Jerusalem. The plan will divide the West Bank into two and in the process render the chances of a viable Palestinian state dead, and with it the future of a two state solution.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency has urged the plan to be halted, with Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner General of UNRWA stating it: “gives rise to concerns that it amounts to a ‘forcible transfer’ in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” He added: “The humanitarian impact of the planned transfer could be immense”.
This process is already in motion. According to analysis by the Association of International Development Agencies of data compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of demolitions in the first eight months of 2014 was higher than in any comparable period in the last five years, as was the number of people who lost their homes as a result.
The Bedouin have a hard fight to remain on their land, a fight that has lasted decades long. For the traditional rural communities this is the next step in Israel’s long history of policies targeting their existence.
The Ir David Foundation, known as Elad, has published an announcement on social media networks in search of Jewish settlers to live in Palestinian homes that it has captured in the town of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, in return for a financial reward estimated at 500 shekels ($136) per day, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Elad is known for its Judaisation projects of the city of Jerusalem. According to the association’s advertisement, an amount of 500 shekels will be given to each settler who agrees to live in one of the homes that have been seized, with the settler only required to “keep his gun loaded and ready to fire at any time”, according to the declaration.
Haaretz quoted one of the advertisements as follows: “We are looking for people who can stay in the apartments and watch them until families move into them. The work will probably take ten to 30 days (perhaps even more). The daily wage is 500 shekels gross. The workers will stay in the apartments and guard them until they are inhabited by families. Only suitable applicants will be accepted. Please pass this on to friends.”
The following day, the newspaper reported that when asked about the details on what the job entails, an Elad official said: “You’re not the security guard … There are security guards and police when needed, and there’s someone to supervise you and call to make sure everything is all right all the time. We don’t need you as a security guard. As far as we’re concerned, you live in the house, but it’s better if you have a weapon.”
The official also stressed that Elad would be the employer. “I think the payment would be by bank transfer,” she said. “You come and fill out forms.”
With the assistance of armed guards, the Foundation seized, overnight on Monday, ten individual buildings that include 23 apartments in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan, located just south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the settlers now own them.
Silwan has been witnessing continuous and tense confrontations with Israeli occupation forces ever since the seizure of the Palestinian homes, with Israeli police and armed forces present in the streets around the clock to protect the settlers.