Fifty thousand refugees have arrived recently in Europe and many more are on the way. They include Palestinians reliving their original catastrophe — the Nakba of 1948 — as they search for shelter. Hundreds, even thousands, have lost their lives in the process.
Until 2011, nearly half a million Palestinian refugees lived in Syria. It was generally understood that they were living the most stable lives compared to their compatriots. Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp outside of Palestine, was described as “the capital of the Palestinian Diaspora”, and it basically became a residential extension of Damascus before it was turned into a scene of ruin, death and hunger by the Syrian conflict.
The tragedy that hit Syria has dispelled all illusions, though, with the realisation that the Palestinian refugee communities are actually extremely fragile and very quickly pay the price for any turbulence and crises in the host countries. This has happened before in Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.
Compared to the masses of refugees now flocking to Europe, the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria has its own characteristics. This lies in the fact that they are forced to endure a new “exodus” and suffering as they seek a place of safety, even though their homeland is little more than an hour’s drive from their refugee camps. The Palestinian families must make the long, perilous journey across borders, coasts and mountains, meeting the outrageous demands of the greedy, criminal gangs of human traffickers in order to reach Europe.
However, Europe is so preoccupied by the refugee crisis that it does not care about the essence of the problem that created it. As far as the Palestinians coming from Syria are concerned, the issue is fairly clear, so why doesn’t the European Union work towards the most logical and practical solutions, such as returning them to their own land, at least temporarily? Why is such a discussion missing from Europe’s meetings held to figure out ways to contain the crises on its borders?
Over a third of a million Palestinians, many of whom are refugees driven from their homes and camps, live in Europe. We are witnessing new chapters in their suffering; these human beings whom the Israelis have forbidden from returning to their land from which they were expelled in 1948 and 1967. They are not even allowed to visit their country, in a clear violation of international laws and conventions.
Logic dictates that we empower the Palestinian refugees with their legitimate right to return to their land and homes, which are nearby. If not, they will continue to be forced to look for safe havens across continents after disaster-ridden journeys. There is no doubt that a huge part of the responsibility for this lies with Europe, which created the historical conditions that resulted in the tragedy of the Palestinian people in the first place.
EU officials talk about the importance of linking aid to Eastern European countries with their willingness to accept their share of refugees, and there are even those who call for linking negotiations about joining the European Union to the countries’ treatment of refugees. Isn’t such discourse also required with the “Israeli partner” which benefits from many European economic, educational and military privileges and treaties?
Why is Europe unable to even think about using its influence to put pressure on the Israeli government to activate the Palestinian right of return, which was endorsed by UN General Assembly Resolution 194? The Palestinians, many of whom still have the keys to their homes in occupied Palestine, have the right to live in their homeland. The routes to their cities, towns and villages are well-known to those who want to ask about them, and maps are readily available.
If the European Union and the international community do not address the core of this issue by reviving and implementing the legitimate Palestinian right of return, then thousands will continue to head for Europe and many will die along the way. Which of these two possibilities does the EU and the rest of the world prefer?
The United Nations has called for a freeze on Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, dozens of aid agencies and the European Union have joined in the protest, and even the U.S. State Department has voiced its dismay. Yet, even as the outcry has become an international issue and reached the highest ranks of our own government, we find a resounding silence at The New York Times.
Times readers are unlikely to know that 31 international organizations recently called on Israel to stop the “wanton destruction of Palestinian property,” including “basic humanitarian necessities,” such as solar panels, animal pens, latrines and tents supplied by the European Union. The groups asked world leaders to take “urgent action,” to hold Israel accountable for “grave breaches” of international law, and to demand reparations for the destruction of their charitable gifts.
The State Department joined both groups with statements made during a press briefing Aug. 19. When spokesman John Kirby was asked about the issue, he had a prepared declaration ready to hand.
The department was “deeply concerned” and “very troubled,” he said, calling the demolitions and evictions “harmful and provocative and indicative of a damaging trend.” He referred to the “destruction of dozens of structures and the displacement of over 150 people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this month alone.”
His words got the attention of Israeli media, which published his comments at length, but they failed to arouse the interest of the Times.
In fact, Israel’s cruel (and illegal) policy of demolishing Palestinian property has been a constant story in alternative and Palestinian media outlets over the years, and the spate of international protests appearing this past month is not the first. Last February, for instance, some 400 rabbis from around the world urged Israel to halt demolitions in the West Bank.
Israeli forces have destroyed houses, tents, animal shelters, shops and farming structures throughout the West Bank at a steady clip, leaving 486 Palestinians displaced in 2015 as of Aug. 24. The destruction has hit the poorest and most vulnerable populations hardest, as Israel attempts to clear the land for Jewish settlers.
In the midst of this, the Times has seen fit to report on only one official demolition action this summer: the destruction of illegal Jewish settler homes in the West Bank. (This event was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of plans for 500 news settlement homes to replace them.)
When the demolitions have made their way into the pages of the Times, the reports have failed to reveal the full extent of the problem. This year, for instance, the paper took notice of the threatened destruction of the West Bank village Susiya, when international media attention made it impossible to ignore, but dozens of other actual demolitions found no mention in the newspaper.
Again, when bureau chief Jodi Rudoren wrote about East Jerusalem demolitions last year, she underreported the extent of the damage by omitting over 46,000 structures that have been destroyed over the years and mentioning only the 675 that took place for “punitive reasons” during the second intifada.
Although demolitions are a constant threat to thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, the Times prefers to ignore this reality. Palestinian media, however, issue reports almost daily, and monitoring groups such as the United Nations and the Israeli organization B’Tselem struggle to keep tallies.
These groups also note that demolitions fly in the face of international rules. As the UN release states, they contravene “Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under humanitarian law and human rights law.”
Behind the numbers cited by the United Nations and other groups are thousands of individual stories: herders struggling to shelter their flocks as Israeli forces tear up sheds and corrals, children robbed of playgrounds and schools, communities forced to pay for water deliveries after bulldozers crush their pipelines, families pulling prized possessions out of the rubble of their homes.
These stories find little notice in the Times, even as aid organizations and governments from the European Union to the U.S. State Department have spoken out with alarm and dismay. On many levels, Israeli demolitions are eminently newsworthy, but this is not enough for the Times, which prefers to shield Israel above all.
Vittorio Fera violently arrested. Photo credot – Haim Schwarczenberg
Occupied Palestine – Italian activist Vittorio Fera was violently arrested and beaten by soldiers at weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine. The Italian activist, 31-year old Vittorio Fera, is falsely accused of throwing stones and attacking soldiers. His case will be taken to court the second time Monday 31st August between 9 and 11 am.
During a weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh Israeli soldiers randomly arrested two protesters: one 18-year old Palestinian youth and the Italian activist Vittorio Fera. Fera went to the protest to document human rights violations by the Israeli army against Palestinians and became a victim of military violence himself.
While documenting an Israeli soldier strangling a 12-year old boy, Vittorio and the other activists were ambushed by Israeli forces. Vittorio was separated from the group and violently shoved to the ground. “We were shocked to see the boy being choked by a soldier, when suddenly soldiers came running at us and attacked Vittorio”, Josephine from Denmark explains.
Vittorio Fera with clear marks of military assault
Journalists witnessed soldiers kicking and beating him during the arrest, even though he did not resist or fight back. Vittorio, and the Palestinian youth, were forced into a military jeep where they were detained for almost nine hours by the Israeli army, before they were finally taken to a police station. Despite various demands of Fera’s lawyer to have him brought to a police station immediately, both he and the Palestinian were illegally kept in the military jeep until shortly before midnight.
Vittorio Fera with clear marks of military assault
The military accuses Vittorio Fera of throwing stones and attacking the soldiers – an unfounded accusation. A first sentencing in court late Saturday night only resulted in the postponing of the sentencing until Monday morning. The hearing will take place in in Jerusalem Monday the 31st August 2015 between 9 and 11 am.
See the video of the arrest here
A prominent industrial union in the United States has endorsed the international movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to support the Palestinians against Israel, calling on Washington to cut off financial support to Tel Aviv.
The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America union voted in favor of a resolution entitled “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel” during its national convention on August 20, the union reported on its website.
Citing Israel’s “long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians,” the union has become the first nationwide union to join the boycott against Israel.
Union delegate Autumn Martinez said, “It’s absolutely disgusting what is going on. Free Palestine!”
In a statement, the union attacks Israel for its human rights record “starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel.”
It explained that the goal of endorsing the BDS campaign was “to pressure Israel to end its apartheid over the Palestinians just as similar tactics helped to end South African apartheid in the 1980s.”
The union also voted on a number of other foreign policy issues, including the demand to end US military intervention in the Middle East and other regions.
“We (need) to get rid of this culture of war,” said Mike Ferritto, a local delegate.
“We have done enough damage. We need to get out of the Middle East,” said another delegate, Brandon Dutton.
The resolution was part of a series of resolutions, including support for the Iran nuclear agreement. The union said it was the first US national union to endorse the movement.
The BDS campaign, which began in 2005, encourages organizations and institutions such as universities and churches to divest from Israel until the fundamental rights of the Palestinians have been recognized.
Occupied Palestine – A 52-year old Palestinian man was arrested at Shuhada checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) yesterday, for ‘not obeying soldiers’ orders. Israeli forces painfully handcuffed and blindfolded him.
Around 1:30 pm, Hisham Azzeh walked through Shuhada Checkpoint in order to reach his house that is located up the hill next to the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida. At this first checkpoint on his way home, Hisham passed through the metal detector without it beeping to indicate he had to go back and pass again. Therefore, he continued on his way, but Israeli soldiers yelled at him to go back and pass through the checkpoint again for no reason.
When he did not immediately comply with the soldiers orders, they arrested him. Israeli soldiers painfully handcuffed him with his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, without any regard for a recent operation on his hand. The soldiers also blindfolded him, so he was unable to see what happened to him and where he was brought. On the way up the hill towards the military base, the pain, caused by the plastic handcuffs, was so intense, that Israeli soldiers had to allow Azzeh to sit down on the ground, as he was unable to continue walking.
Palestinian man sitting on the ground in pain
Palestinians observing the arrest were continously telling soldiers about Azzeh’s recent operation on his hand and the plate that had to be inserted during this operation. Even though they were explaining the immense pain the plastic handcuffs were causing to Azzeh due to this operation, the Israeli soldiers shouted at them to leave the area and be quiet. Various requests to call an ambulance were denied. Only after Azzeh’s brother, who is a medical professional, arrived and reasoned with the soldiers, they attempted to cut the handcuffs. As the soldiers put the handcuffs too tight, they were struggling to cut the handcuffs without cutting Azzeh’s hands, making the procedure even longer and more painful, with Azzeh suffering immensely and crying out in pain.
Hisham’s hand showing scars from the operation. Photo credit: Youth against settlement
In the meantime, a civil police car was driving past on a regular patrol and got stopped by the Palestinians in an attempt to alleviate the situation for Hisham. After the handcuffs were finally cut off, by-standers cooled his hand first with a bottle of cold water until an ice-pack was brought for him. The police took Hisham Azzeh to the police station after a long discussion. After about an hour, Azzeh was released. He is now doing okay, but is still suffering from pain in his hands.
Police, bystanders and the soldiers standing around Hisham
Harassment like this in al-Khalil (Hebron) is not unusual. Palestinians have to pass through various checkpoints on their way home or to work and often get detained for long periods of time.
TUBAS – Israeli troops on Sunday morning evacuated 14 Palestinian families from their houses in the al-Ras al-Ahmar area of Khirbet Atuf village east of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, local sources said.
Local sources reported that the “Israeli occupation” told the 14 families that Israeli forces will be carrying out military drills in the area for five days.
During the five days of military exercises, Palestinian residents in the area will be evacuated for six hours every day, local sources told Ma’an.
The evacuation was done under the argument that evacuating protects residents.
Earlier this year military drills in Tubas resulted in a fire that swept across some 3,000 to 4,000 dunams (750 to 1,000 acres) of Jordan Valley farmland.
The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, despite being within the West Bank.The district of Tubas is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural centers.
According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, more than 15,000 dunams (3,700 acres) of land in the Tubas district have been confiscated by Israel for military bases with a further 8,000 dunams (2,000 acres) seized for illegal Israeli settlements.
Settler women with their children blocking the stairs to the Abu Rajab house
Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Abu Rajab family in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) is facing continual intimidation by groups of settlers and Israeli forces protecting these settlers in their attempts to take over the Abu Rajab family home.
In the last few weeks, settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlements on various occasions have camped outside the home under the protection of the Israeli forces, leaving the family confined to the house not able to leave fearing attacks by settlers as well as settlers taking over the rest of the house.
In March 2012, a group of settlers from illegal settlements within the city broke the gate of the house and occupied the two upper floors of the house at night-time during Passover. Afterwards the settlers claimed to have legally bought the house, a claim that until now could not be proven legit by an Israeli court. Until the final decision of the court, the Abu Rajab extended family is not permitted to use that part of their home. The same year, one of the sons, in his early twenties, was arrested and put in administrative detention (detention without charges or trial) for a year.
When in September 2013 an Israeli soldier was shot in the neighbourhood of the Abu Rajab house, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu promised the settler movement that they would be allowed to move back into the house.
Since the beginning of this year, the threats and attacks by settlers on the family have increased. A month ago, during Passover, settlers again tried to move into the house. Instead of protecting the family from these repeated and unlawful attacks, they threatened the family to leave the house. Since then, settlers again and again camp or even sleep outside the families’ home. On Monday and Tuesday, small groups of settler women with their children have been blocking the stairs to the house’s door all afternoon. The children, all under eight years old, were instrumentalised by their mothers as they are too young to understand what was going on. Palestinian children playing nearby the house were forced by soldiers to leave the area.
Last year, some members of Congress attempted to pass legislation that would admit Israel into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The State Department pushed back, noting that because of Israel’s long history of discrimination against Americans of Arab descent, they do not meet the program’s key requirement of reciprocity.
Congress relented and instead passed a Sense of Congress that stipulated that should Israel meet this requirement, they could be included in the Visa Waiver Program. In a sense, they were put on probation.
In the past year Israel has continued to demonstrate that it has no intention of ending their practice of discriminating against persons of Arab descent. My office has received new reports of shameful treatment meted out to Arab Americans on their arrival in Israel. Two cases, in particular, deserve to be noted.
After landing at Ben Gurion International airport, George Khoury, 70, and Habib Joudeh, 62, were detained for long hours, subjected to abusive interrogations, insulted by Israeli security personnel, and finally denied entry and forced to purchase, at their own expense, return tickets to the United States.
George is a professor and a deacon of his church from San Francisco. Habib is a pharmacist and respected community leader from Brooklyn. Both are American citizens of Palestinian descent. George was traveling to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. Habib was on his way to attend a family wedding in the West Bank. Neither had been back to Israel/Palestine in more than 20 years. And neither was able to complete their journey.
While no American should be subjected to such treatment, the most disturbing element of these cases is the reason they were denied entry and deported. Because both men were of Palestinian descent, Israel would not honor their U.S. passports or recognize the men as American citizens. Both were told they had to acquire Palestinian IDs and then, as Palestinians, enter the West Bank through Jordan.
George’s case is especially instructive. When the Israeli border control agent told him that he could not enter Israel, George attempted to engage the agent saying, “I’m coming as an American citizen.” To which the agent replied “No, no, you belong with the Palestinian people. This is our Israel, this is for the Jews. No Palestinian should come to Israel. You should have gone through the Allenby Bridge.”
When George explained that “I am coming with an American passport and you should honor it,” the agent replied, “How do you want me to honor your American passport? Do you want me to kiss it, to hug it, or to worship it?”
What happened to Habib and George were not the actions of a few rogue agents. For more than three decades, the Arab American Institute has submitted to the State Department hundreds of instances where Arab Americans have been subjected to such treatment at Israel’s borders.
By so flagrantly disregarding the citizenship rights of Americans of Arab descent, Israel is in violation of its treaty obligations found in the “1951 US-Israel Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation.” In the language of the treaty, Israel pledges to permit U.S. citizens the right to “travel freely, to reside at places of their choice, to enjoy liberty of conscience” and to guarantee them “the most constant protection and security.”
Not only has Israel consistently violated its treaty obligation, but our government has failed to live up to its commitment to protect the rights of its own citizens. The opening page of the U.S. passport states that “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”
The Department of State says that it does not condone Israel’s treatment of Arab Americans. In reality, despite denying Israel’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program, the State Department appears to acquiesce to Israel’s behavior.
When George Khoury’s daughter wrote a letter of complaint to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, she received a response saying “Unfortunately, the US government cannot assist US citizens in gaining entry into Israel… Should your father wish to travel again in the future, we advise him to contact the nearest Israeli Embassy or Consulate for guidance.”
The U.S. official then directed her to the Department of State “Travel Advisory” which states that “regardless of whether they hold US citizenship, Israeli authorities consider anyone who has parents or grandparents who were born or lived in the West Bank or Gaza to have a claim to a PA ID.” They will, therefore, be treated as Palestinians and not as Americans.
It is upsetting that both the Department of State “Travel Advisory” and the Consul’s letter acknowledge Israel’s disregard for our citizenship rights and claim to be powerless to hold them accountable for their actions. This acquiescence allows Israel to act with impunity. It also makes our government appear to be complicit in Israel’s behavior.
More must be done. Israel cannot be allowed to disregard the citizenship rights of Americans or to unilaterally define persons of Arab descent as second-class American citizens. The Department of State and our elected representatives should demand that the Israeli government fully live up to its treaty obligations to treat all Americans equally without regard to their religion or national origin.
This is not merely a matter of denying Israel Visa Waiver privileges, it is a question of whether or not our government will guarantee Arab Americans the equal protection to which they are entitled and which they deserve.
Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute.
This is a letter from a Palestinian Christian to the news director and lead anchor of EWTN News, the news division of the Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic broadcast network with Zionist leanings.
Dear Raymond Arroyo,
I was watching your world over segment last night on EWTN and I had some concerns. My name is Mary. I’m a conservative Catholic from Bethlehem, Palestine.
I know you didn’t think we existed – don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Besides, Israel propaganda does a great job making sure people think Palestinians only consist of mean crazy Muslims fighting the innocent virtuous God chosen people.
I couldn’t help but notice you were one of them, which struck me as very odd considering you work for a religious channel not political, and even if you yourself had your biases it should not be portrayed on your show.
Let me clarify some things if I may, sir. I have three cousins that are priests an uncle who is a Bishop look them up Bishop William Shomali, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali and Fr. Issa Shomali.
My mother lived in Rome for ten years, she almost got ordained to become a nun.
Yes we are pretty conservative and we are proud of our faith. Growing up in occupied Palestine just made our faith even stronger.
Watching on a daily basis Israeli jeeps with huge rifles sticking out from the back of the jeep threatening to shoot us at any moment just because we happened to live on the wrong side of town.
On the way to my St Joseph all-girls Catholic school I saw them making dirty comments, staring me in the face, mocking me.
I saw them shoot little children because they threw rocks at them, and sometimes for absolutely no reason.
In my peaceful town of Beit Sahour, mostly Christians, the first boy to get killed by Israelis was 16 years old.
He was walking home from the store when Israeli soldiers dropped a huge rock on his head from the top of a building and watched him crawl home bleeding until he died at the front steps of his home. He was Christian, he did nothing to them.
Yet you don’t feel any sympathy for him. The second boy was at home in the kitchen watching his mom making fries.
An Israeli settler — you know, those guys who built a home illegally on Palestinian land and are armed — shot him through the window and killed him in front of his mom.
His name was Salam, it means peace. He was a Christian, not involved in anything. Yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for him because he’s not Jewish.
I can go on and on and on about how Israel was created, the wars literally kicking people out of their homes and moving in them, the massacres.
The times when they would put the whole town on house arrest, which means we can’t leave the home or look out the window. It would take weeks sometimes.
We are Christians and yet you wouldn’t feel any sympathy for us. When they would set us free they would shout in the microphone in their jeeps “home arrest is off you dogs and cows and donkeys”. And yet it’s all justified.
One time a Christian nurse from my home town took home a young boy who was wounded by Israeli soldiers. He was involved in a protest against occupation and must have thrown a rock at one of the jeeps (oh the horror!)
The soldiers went to her home, and arrested and imprisoned her for years for treating a wounded boy; how dare she!!
And when the town had many protests to free her they released her to Jordan and she was never allowed back to her home. And yet we are the terrorists and you have no sympathy for us.
My ancestors come from that land back in the days when people lived in caves even.
What if we are the original Christians that followed Jesus 2000 years ago — wouldn’t we have the same right to live there in dignity and yet we have none.
And you don’t care. We will continue to carry the cross proudly on our shoulder and suffer, we will continue to pray for our enemy and for peace.
We will not hate, we will only tell the truth. This is what our Bible teaches; you should try doing the same. Peace be with you my friend.
Love, Mary Alshomaly from the Holy Land of Jesus
Occupied Palestine – On Friday the 28th of August 2015, two peaceful demonstrators were violently arrested and a child viciously attacked by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine. Every Friday the people of Nabi Saleh protest against the illegal settlement build on the villages’ land.
Israeli soldier threatening Palestinian women and children at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
Today at around 3 pm one Palestinian male, Mahmoud Tamimi, and one international activist were arrested in the Palestinian village Nabi Saleh close to Ramallah. They were arrested during a Friday demonstration against the illegal settlements on the land belonging to the people of Nabi Saleh.
Only a few minutes after the protesters peacefully started their march towards the gate, which is regularly blocked by the military preventing any movement in- or outside of the village, the Israeli army began attacking the non-violent protesters with dozens of rounds of tear gas.
The soldiers then ambushed the demonstrators escaping the clouds of tear gas by surrounding them. They attacked and then arrested Mahmoud Tamimi, shoving him down the hill towards the illegal settlement, where he was forced to lie on the ground.
Israeli soldier strangling a Palestinian boy at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
Around the same time, a Palestinian boy was violently attacked by a soldier throwing him to the ground, choking and almost suffocating him in the process. “While the boy was screaming in pain his family came to rescue him from the soldiers’ vicious assault”, Josephine, a Danish activist explains.
Israeli soldier attacking Palestinian boy at non violent demonstration in Nabi Saleh. Photo credit: Karam
A group of peaceful international demonstrators trying to document the attack on the boy, was ambushed by another group of soldiers, who violently pushed a 31-year old Italian man to the ground and proceeded to arrested him.
Both the Palestinian and the international were being held captive in a military jeep by the Israeli army for almost nine hours, before being brought to a police station.
NEGEV – Dozens of Palestinians protested Thursday in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran near the town of Hura in the Negev, as Israel’s construction of a Jewish town on the village’s land continues, local sources said.
The Umm al-Hiran community — around 700 strong — is unrecognized by the Israeli government and residents’ lands were claimed by the state in 2013 in order to make way for the expansion of the Beersheba metropolitan area.
As a march set off from the village and moved towards the site of construction, protesters said they were able to force Israeli police to remove the bulldozers from the area.
Leaders and members of national and Islamic parties, Palestinian members of the Knesset, members of committees for Palestinians in the Negev, and Jewish-Israelis took part in the march.
Sources told Ma’an that the contractor responsible for razing the village is a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Negev, and locals have condemned the use of Palestinian contractors against their people by the Israeli authorities.
Participants of Thursday’s demonstration called for launching an international media campaign in support of Umm al-Hiran and other villages threatened with land confiscation in order to pressure Israeli authorities to stop longstanding policies to displace Palestinian Bedouins.
Umm al-Hiran residents are a fraction of the thousands of Bedouins living in villages that the Israeli government does not recognize and are at risk of displacement in the Negev due to Israeli policies that critics argue amount to ethnic cleansing.
The community’s residents appealed their displacement in court earlier this year on the grounds that the Israeli military administration ordered the community to be moved to the area in 1956, but the appeal was rejected.
On Sunday, Israeli excavators began work on infrastructure for the Jewish-only town in Umm al-Hiran, building a new road under heavy protection of Israeli forces, locals told Ma’an at the time.
Knesset Member Talab Abu Arar described the Israeli move as racist.
“Racism has become crystal clear in Umm al-Hiran as a Jewish settlement Hiran is being built on the ruins of the Arab Umm al-Hiran village,” Abu Arar told Ma’an on Sunday.
He added that Israeli courts and authorities ignored the rights of Palestinians and worked towards confining them to a few recognized towns and denying their rights.
JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities have renewed the administrative detention of 85 percent of Palestinians detainees held under the policy, a prisoner rights group said Friday.
The Prisoners’ Center for Studies said that at least 75 of the 480 Palestinians held under the detention without trial policy have had their sentences — which range from two to six months — renewed four times in a row.
The detention of 135 detainees has been renewed three times in a row while 190 Palestinians have had their sentences renewed twice, the center added.
Israeli military courts have issued 726 administrative detention orders in 2015 alone, including first time sentences and renewals, the group said, over 340 of which were issued to Palestinians from the Hebron district in the occupied West Bank.
Riyad al-Ashqar, a spokesperson of the Prisoners’ Center for Studies, said Israel is keeping Palestinians as political hostages through the policy of administrative detention.
Most detainees held under the policy, which dates back to the British Mandate, are held on secret evidence and are not aware of the reason for their detention, which can be renewed indefinitely in six-month periods.
In 2012, over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners went on hunger strike to protest administrative detention, one of the only means available to Palestinians to challenge the policy.
Last week, Palestinian detainee Muhammad Allan ended a two-month hunger strike which he began to protest his detention without trial. An Israeli court ruled to lift his administrative detention due to his deteriorating health.
While administrative detention is legal under international law in exceptional circumstances, the international community and rights organizations have condemned excessive use of the practice by Israel.