A file photo of a group of Palestinian youth after being treated for gunshot injuries by Israeli forces (Photo: BADIL)
BETHLEHEM – Two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire during clashes with Israeli soldiers in al-Duheisha refugee camp in southern Bethlehem early Friday morning, as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats in recent weeks to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”
Local sources said that two youths were shot and injured in the legs during clashes that erupted after Israeli forces raided the camp in Friday’s predawn hours.
Sources added that Israeli soldiers raided and searched the house of the incarcerated Palestinian Muhammad al-Seifi, detaining his mother and sister by locking them inside their home to pressure Muhammad’s younger brother Naba to turn himself into Israeli authorities.
Israeli forces also blew off the door of the Ibdaa Cultural Center near the entrance to the camp and occupied the rooftop of the building, from where Israeli snipers fired live ammunition and tear-gas canisters at local youth.
Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli army forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo agreements.
In a response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the Israeli army was not involved, and claimed Israeli border police were behind it, despite the area being located outside of police jurisdiction in Area A of the occupied West Bank.
When contacted by Ma’an, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said he was not aware of the raid, saying it “made no sense” that police would be involved, and confirmed that al-Duheisha fell under the Israeli army’s jurisdiction in terms of raids. When contacted a second time, an Israeli army spokesperson insisted again that the army was not behind the raid and could not say who had been.
‘I will make all the youth of the camp disabled’
The clashes come in the wake of reports documented by BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats during and after raids, and during interrogations, to disable all Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha.
The commander is reportedly responsible for the al-Duheisha area, and known to locals as “Captain Nidal.”
Local youth in al-Duheisha told BADIL that Captain Nidal has made statements such as: “I will make all the youth of the camp disabled,” “I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs,” “I will make half of you disabled, and let the other half push the wheelchairs,” and “I will make all of you stand in line at the ATM waiting for your disability subsidies and assistance.”
One of the injured youth told BADIL that Captain Nidal told him to tell his friends that “Nidal will make all of you disabled.”
According to BADIL, which is based in Bethlehem, 30 Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition in the camp since the beginning of the year, the majority in their legs and knees.
They added that al-Duheisha had been raided at least three times by Israeli forces between the end of July and mid-August, during which time 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs — eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs — causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.
An Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the reports of the threats made by the commander.
“These threats indicate that these actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and permanently injuring them and/or causing significant damage to their physical and mental well-being,” BADIL said in their statement.
The reported threats come amid what BADIL called an intensification of the “systematic targeting” of Palestinian youth in the occupied Palestinian territory — particularly in refugee camps — since the beginning of 2016.
“This targeting has taken the form of injuries and arbitrary killings by the use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the context of arrest campaigns, military raids, and random wide searches which usually trigger clashes,” the statement said.
BADIL’s statement also highlight a recent Israeli military incursion in the Hebron-area refugee camp al-Fawwar that lasted some 20-hours, during which an unarmed Palestinian teen was shot dead and dozens others were hospitalized.
“These cases of intentional wounding, when added to the comparable actions happening in refugee camps such as Aida, al-Arroub, Qalandia, Amari, and the West Bank at large, prove that these incidents amount to a systematic policy and an implementation of Captain Nidal’s threats.”
“These willful and grave breaches of international law trigger the obligations of third party states and other mandated agencies to put an end to this climate of impunity under which Israeli forces and its officials operate.”
BADIL’s collection of testimonies came as the latest report amid years of well documented cases of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli police jurisdiction.
When writer Michael Chabon visited the West Bank city of Hebron earlier this year, the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation hit him with force. During an interview with the Forward, he appeared “visibly jarred,” and he pulled no punches in describing his reaction.
“Once you see for yourself,” he said, “it is pretty obvious, I think, to any human being with a heart and a mind, it is pretty clear what to feel about it. It is the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life.”
His reaction echoes in the words of another author, Ben Ehrenreich, who recently published a book about the occupation, “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.” In his introduction Ehrenreich refers to “the awful clarity of the injustice,” and his book portrays Palestinian resistance under Israel’s state-sponsored system of oppression.
Both these American writers are saying that the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli rule is clear to see, an obvious truth to anyone who witnesses the situation firsthand.
Now, as Peter Baker, the latest New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, takes up his post, we can ask whether the newspaper will begin to convey this reality to its readers. Will Baker, a fresh new witness with full access to the sites under occupation, give voice to the oppression seen with such clarity by Ehrenreich and Chabon?
Baker’s predecessor, Jodi Rudoren, who left Jerusalem late last year, filed hundreds of stories over nearly four years at the post and managed not to clarify but to obscure the reality of occupation and dispossession. Her stories promoted a narrative of Israeli victimhood and Palestinian violence and deflected Israeli culpability. (See TimesWarp 12-22-15.)
Many voices vied for attention during her stint, but Rudoren turned a deaf ear to some of the most respected sources of information, not only the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch but also Israeli monitoring groups and courageous Israeli journalists. These groups and individuals were constantly documenting and reporting abuses by the Israeli forces, but the news they bore rarely found even brief mention in the Times.
When a series of stabbing and vehicular attacks on Israelis began last fall, several monitoring groups issued alerts, charging that Israeli forces were using the situation to conduct “street executions” of Palestinians who actually posed no threat.
These accusations were bolstered by video and eyewitness evidence and came from groups such as the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Amnesty International and Euro-Med Monitor. To give even more weight to their claims, a group of nine Israeli organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights and the Public Committee Against Torture, issued a joint statement saying Israeli officials were responsible for the climate that fostered these executions.
The Times took little notice. The newspaper’s headlines remained focused on Palestinian attacks, and any quotes about extrajudicial executions were attributed to Palestinian officials, as if these charges were nothing more than the opinions of partisans taking one side in a bitter exchange.
Anticipating Baker’s arrival in Jerusalem, the Times produced a video featuring him in conversation with Rudoren and another former Jerusalem bureau chief, James Bennet. The trio made many references to “the conflict” (with only a single mention of the occupation), and they insisted that Times reporting strives to be balanced and neutral.
If reporters were sincerely looking for balance, however, it would seem that truly neutral parties, such as the United Nations and human rights organizations, would provide an essential antidote to the partisan claims of two adversaries. Yet the Times turns a deaf ear to these sources, no matter how fully documented their findings are, and relies heavily on Israeli officials.
Thus, Times readers are left in ignorance, hearing almost nothing about urgent and repeated appeals from these non-partisan groups. Beyond the latest accusations of extrajudicial killings, for instance, rights organizations have consistently highlighted the mistreatment of Palestinian children held in Israeli custody and the demolition of Palestinian structures, including everything from homes and workshops to cisterns and animal shelters.
Organizations such as UNICEF, Defence for Children International, Save the Children, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child and the Committee Against Torture in Israel have tried over several years to publicize the abuse of Palestinian children (See TW 1-13-14.), but the Times has rarely mentioned these reports and then only in stories aimed to spin the information in favor of Israel.
Throughout 2015 some of these groups continued to issue frequent reports and news releases with headlines such as “Rising physical violence against Palestinian child detainees,” “UNICEF report confirms ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees remains systematic,” and “New U.S. government report highlights violations against Palestinian kids,” but the Times showed no interest in exploring the problem.
Likewise, Israel’s rampage of demolitions in the West Bank is never brought to the attention of Times readers although the United Nations, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and other groups have issued frequent statements and demands, urging Israel to end its policy of destruction.
While the Times has remained silent, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, columnists for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, have often written about the terrible toll demolitions have exacted from some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities.
Rudoren wrote occasionally about punitive demolitions, the Israeli policy of destroying the family homes of attackers, but her stories omitted any mention of the much more common demolition of structures because they lack building permits, which are rarely issued.
The policy is a constant threat to Palestinians in a large part of the West Bank, and over the decades of occupation, the state has demolished more than 48,000 Palestinian homes and other structures.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has destroyed 726 Palestinian structures so far this year, displacing 1,020 people. In a recent report, OCHA noted that during one week this month, 42 structures were demolished or confiscated. The report stated, “Twelve of the targeted structures had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, including emergency shelters, animal sheds, latrines, a community centre, and a water connection; the confiscation of the latter means that nearly 1,000 Palestinians in five herding communities in the Jordan Valley will continue to suffer water scarcity.”
The OCHA report continued, “This brings the number of assistance items destroyed or confiscated since the start of 2016 to 200, almost double the figure for the entire 2015 (108).” In other words, donors such as the European Union and International Committee of the Red Cross have stepped in to provide tents and other items when Israel has destroyed Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, water wells and other structures, but the Israeli authorities have demolished even this humanitarian aid.
In this brief report from OCHA “the awful clarity of the injustice” is evident, as it has been evident in hundreds of other reports issued over the years. The rising tide of demolitions, with all its human-interest value, is most certainly newsworthy, but will the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times report it?
So far the Times seems determined to muddy the waters, avoiding a clear exposition of Israeli brutality, but with a new bureau chief now on board, some readers may hold out a faint hope for change, for an honest and full accounting at last.
Unfortunately, here at TimesWarp, the expectation is for more of the same. It seems unlikely that the Times would allow any straightforward reporting on Israeli oppression to appear in its pages. This would destroy its carefully fostered narrative of Israeli victimhood, “ancient hatreds” and the need to place Israeli security needs above all.
Palestinian women prisoners are declaring their intention to launch a series of protests over mistreatment of their relatives during family visits, Ma’an News reported on Thursday. In particular, Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies noted that family visits are frequently denied, cut short or delayed and visitors forced to undergo strip searches.
Lena Jarbouni, the elected representative of the 42 women held in HaSharon prison, stated that the women will protest so long as their families continue to experience lengthy waits in the sun, humiliating strip searches, repeatedly altered visitation schedules and prohibition of clothing for the prisoners and other necessary items. Several women prisoners, including Ansam Shawahneh, 19, have been completely denied family visits. There are currently approximately 60 Palestinian women held in HaSharon and Damon prisons.
On Thursday, Ofer Military Court ordered Taghreed al-Faqih, 44, from Dura near al-Khalil, imprisoned for two months and fined 5000 NIS (approximately $1100 USD) for “incitement.” Al-Faqih, the sister of Mohammed al-Faqih, extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces who bulldozed and fired a missile into his home, was arrested after her brother’s killing on 12 July 2016.
On Monday, 15 August, Randa Ahati of al-Khalil was released on bail to house imprisonment in her home in Yatta until her next court date. A former prisoner held for nearly four years in Israeli prison, she was arrested by occupation forces while traveling between Bethlehem and al-Khalil.
Sana Abdelrahman Nayef Abu Sneineh, 24, from Dura near al-Khalil, was released on 15 August after six months in administrative detention. She was arrested on 17 February by Israeli occupation soldiers invading her home in a pre-dawn raid, accusing her of posting “inciting” material on Facebook. She was ordered to three months’ administrative detention without charge or trial, which was then renewed for an additional three months.
Two women remain in administrative detention without charge or trial, among nearly 750 Palestinians in total: Sabah Feroun, imprisoned since 19 June after an invasion of her Jerusalem home by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to six months in administrative detention, and Haneen Abdelqader Amer, 39, from Tulkarem, imprisoned since 27 March and accused of “incitement” on social media but ordered imprisoned without charge or trial.
Israeli army withdraws from Al-Fawwar, after killing one Palestinian, injuring 59, and searching dozens of homes
The Israeli army withdrew, late on Tuesday at night, from the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, after concluding a massive military invasion, leading to the death of one Palestinian, while at least 59 others have been injured and dozens of homes invaded and ransacked.
Dr. Waleed Zalloum, the general director of the Hebron Governmental hospital, said 38 Palestinians were moved to the medical center, and that most of them were shot in their legs, thighs and arms.
Zalloum added that one Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Yousef Saber Abu Hashhash, 17, was fatally shot in the chest and died shortly after being moved to a hospital.
Dozens of residents, including many children and elderly, suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation, and received the needed treatment.
Dr. Yousef Takrouri, the general director of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, said five Palestinians were moved to the medical center; all were shot with live rounds, four in the legs and one in the chest.
In addition, one Palestinian was moved to the Rafidia Hospital, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after the soldiers shot him with an expanding bullet in the leg, and another was moved to a hospital in Ramallah, when the soldiers shot him with a similar round in his left shoulder.
Many Palestinian families said the soldiers violently invaded their homes and searched them, and accused the military of stealing gold and cash during the searches.
Amjad Najjar, the head of the Hebron office of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded his home in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, before forcing him and his family in one room, and violently searched the property, causing excessive damage.
Najjar added that the soldiers stole gold and cash from the family home, and that the search of the property lasted for more than four hours.
During the invasion into the refugee camp, the soldiers conducted home-to-home searches, causing excessive property damage, in addition to interrogating dozens of families and photographing them.
The Israeli invasion into the camp was initiated at dawn, Tuesday; the army said it was looking for weapons and claimed that the soldiers “located two pistols, one commando knife, sound bombs and dozens of live rounds.
Ealier today we visited Abdullah Braigheith, a 54 year old farmer, who with his family are facing the risk of getting their agricultural water tank demolished, any day from now. This is their livelihood, without the water for crops they will lose their income. Abdullah and his brother already had to cut down on their production this year; they went from planting 30 dunums* last year to only 5 dunums this year. This leaves the family facing severe economic problems, and the father can’t pay for his kids’ education in university. They are now fearing losing around 3000 dunums of their land, because the settlers want to connect the settlements Gush Etzion and Beit AlBarakeh to make one settlement. Even though they are surrounded by settlements from all sides, they will not leave their land. This is not only due to the fact that they will lose their income, but the land is also their pride and identity.
Thirty five of the family’s apricot trees were cut down by the settlers. The family filed a complaint to the Israeli police, who did nothing to help. Afterwards, the settlers took revenge by setting three of their tractors on fire.
The family went to the Israeli military, who told them to file a complaint. Abdullah asked the military for a video of what happened, since there are military cameras all over the area. The soldiers refused to let them even see the video, because of ”security reasons”. The purpose of the cameras is not to protect people like Abdullah and his family, but instead the settlers who attack them and their property.
The family were not able a file a complaint since the soldiers did not allow them to see evidence that would make such an action possible. According to Abdullah Braigheith, using Israeli military courts to get justice is futile because the courts are set up to protect the victimizers, not the people who are wronged.
“It’s their own court, we can do nothing about it,” Abdullah said.
About one year ago, four water tanks were built in Beit Ummar, a project to develop Palestinian water resources and agricultural lands in the West Bank. It was built with funding from the European Union, USAID, UAWC and other NGOs without permission from the Israeli authorities, because they knew that they most likely would not get a permit to built them if they did. Usually they would not receive demolition orders, but they all did, and the farmers, including Abdullah Braigheith, have all been going in and out of court since. This meaning that they are now not only dealing with a huge water shortage and harassment from settlers, but are now also using huge amounts of money in court. The fact that even projects like this, funded by the European Union and other NGOs, are under demolition orders, shows how impossible it is for the people living in Beit Ummar and the rest of the West Bank to receive help.
Since the Oslo Accords in 1995, Beit Ummar was put in the category which covers 60 % of the West Bank, called Area C, which is completely under Israeli civil military control. In these areas, Israeli settlers have higher privileges which are at the expense of the Palestinian population here. This is clear when you look at the fields in Beit Ummar, where Palestinian farmers are either not able to actually use most of their land, or their plants are dying because of the shortage of water.
Close by, you see the settlers’ fields which are green. The difference is very clear.
Palestinian domestic consumption is on average 70 litres per person per day, with Israeli domestic consumption being on average 300 litres per capita per day. A gross inequality exists, however, between Palestinian communities and illegal Israeli settlements*.
*B’tselem, The Gap in Water Consumption Between Palestinians and Israelis, (2007). Available from: http://www.btselem.org/english/Water/Consumption_Gap.asp.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli police have closed their investigation into the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein — who died in 2014 after being beaten by Israeli forces — concluding that he had died of natural causes, Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported on Wednesday.
According to Arutz Sheva, an autopsy by the police department of internal investigations concluded that Abu Ein, 55, died of a heart attack on Dec. 10, 2014, after an Israeli border police officer beat him in the chest with his helmet and the butt of his rifle during a march to plant olive trees in the village of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which represents Abu Ein’s family in the case, expressed its outrage at the police’s decision to close the case without ever interrogating the border policeman suspected of killing Abu Ein or asking him to testify.
“Most cases of Israeli violence against Palestinians are closed. But we expected that at least a proper investigation would take place,” Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman told Ma’an on Wednesday. “This shows Israeli armed forces’ impunity when committing violence against Palestinian civilians.”
“They closed the case without talking to the border police officer,” Grossman added, despite the fact that “a number of soldiers who were there during the incident said that the border police officer was acting violently even before the altercation” with Abu Ein.
The internal investigations department reportedly justified the decision not to interrogate the policeman.
“Since policemen are authorized to use force and it is expected of them in many cases to use it, Internal Investigations will not summon a policeman for investigation if there is not a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed,” Arutz Sheva quoted the department as saying.
Grossman said that Abu Ein’s family had already filed an appeal to the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
“Our opinion is that internal affairs must investigate the acts of the border policeman during the altercation, even if his actions were not the direct cause of Abu Ein’s death,” he said. “At least, they need to investigate whether his actions were within the proper limits of police action.”
Abu Ein had worked with the Palestinian Authority monitoring Israeli settlements and the separation wall, and was a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Abu Ein had also previously served as Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners’ affairs.
The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs said a day after Abu Ein’s death that an autopsy carried out by a Palestinian forensics team revealed he had died after a powerful blow to the diaphragm and heavy use of tear gas, adding that he had also suffered from bruising on his neck, and several of his front teeth had been knocked out by a blow to his face.
At the time, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that the case was “a clear example of how the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community permits it to continue committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”
The Israeli police’s decision to close its investigation in the case comes days after Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a report revealing that nearly all investigations opened over the killings of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli police in the past ten months were closed “without the unit investigating and questioning the officers.”
The ISM is a Palestinian led movement with a mandate to support Palestinian nonviolent popular resistance to Israeli military occupation and apartheid. Palestinian led nonviolent resistance includes the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, until it adheres to its obligations under international law.
ISM volunteers also accompany children to school and farmers to harvest their olives in areas where they face ongoing settler and military violence. We find that our presence sometimes results in reducing the level of lethal force used by the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinians. Further isolation of Palestinians by denying access and/or deporting human rights activists aims to make Palestinian communities already vulnerable and suffering from abuse even more vulnerable.
As a civilian population living under military occupation Palestinians in the occupied territories are promised protection under international law. All parties signed to the fourth Geneva Convention have the obligation to insure that others, including Israel, adhere to international law. Civilians are being called on to fill in the gap created by the failure of governments and official international bodies to provide protection and fulfill their obligations.
Israel’s isolation of Palestinians both by denying Palestinians and their supporters access to Palestine as well as by denying Palestinians including human rights defenders the right to leave Palestine is not a new strategy. It is most brutal and lethal in the besieged Gaza strip but all parts of Palestine are under some degree of siege.
We condemn Israeli suppression of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. The recent announcement by the occupation authorities that they will attempt to further isolate Palestinians indicates the occupation authorities unwillingness to do the only thing that will actually bring an end to Israel’s isolation – to adhere to international law, end the occupation and grant Palestinians their rights.
See the statement By the Boycott National Committee here.
TULKAREM – Israeli forces on Wednesday detained three siblings of Malik Ubeid, a Palestinian from the village of Farun in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem who is wanted by Israeli authorities, just two days after the detention of his mother and brother, as an attempt to pressure Malik to turn himself in to Israeli authorities, Palestinian security sources said.
Sources told Ma’an that Majdi, Qatiya, and Maha Ubeid were detained after Israeli forces raided their house. Israeli forces also attempted to detain Malik Ubeid himself in the early morning hours on Tuesday during a military raid in the Farun village, but failed, and instead detained four Palestinian youths.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces have raided the Ubeid home several times, but have failed to detain him.
Malik’s mother and brother, Wafiqa Daoud Nasser Ubeid and Suleiman Ahmad Abd al-Qader Ubeid, were detained on Monday after being summoned to the Israeli liaison offices.
Malik’s mother has reportedly been released, according to sources. It remained unclear whether his brother remained in custody as of Wednesday.
Israeli authorities also reportedly telephoned Malik’s brother-in-law, who lives in the Tulkarem refugee camp, on Monday and threatened to detain Malik’s sisters if he didn’t turn himself in.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she could not provide a comment on the detentions, but would look into reports.
It remained unclear what Malik has been suspected of by Israeli authorities.
Israeli authorities have often come under criticism for policies aimed at punishing the families of Palestinians suspected of wrongdoing, including routinely detaining family members of wanted Palestinians, with rights groups calling the policies a form of “collective punishment” which target those who have not committed any crime.
GAZA – The Journalist Support Committee (JSC) said that Israel’s military and security forces committed 47 violations against journalists and media workers during July 2016.
The Israeli authorities also extended the detention of journalist Adib al-Attrash and postponed the trial of another one called Samah Duweik.
According to the report, an administratively detained journalist named Malik al-Qadi was reportedly exposed to torture and maltreatment in an Israeli jail, which prompted him to go on hunger strike Other violations against journalists during the reporting month included raids on homes, confiscation of cars and cameras, assaults, harassment, banishment orders and removal of Facebook pages.
The report also highlighted several violations committed by the Palestinian Authority security apparatuses, including the arrest of journalists Mohamed Abu Juhaisha and Mohamed Khabisa, raids on homes, and banning journalists from holding a news conference.
Qalandia village, Occupied Palestine – Late Monday evening, Israeli forces entered the village of Qalandia with 15 bulldozers and around 150 soldiers. In the village the Israeli military destroyed 11 new built houses, attacking the residents of the village with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and sponge bullets. 7 persons had to seek medical care for their injuries after the assaults from the military.
In 7 of the demolished houses, families had already moved in according to Yosef Awdalla, mayor of Qalandia. The demolition notices, claiming the houses had no permits, were left outside the houses on the ground only 24 hours before the army entered the village.
One of the homeowners, Fadi Awadallah describes how his friend was walking around the house the day before the demolitions, and found a piece of paper written in Hebrew on the ground. One hour after they had figured out what the document said and talked to their lawyer, the army was already entering the village to demolish their home. Fadi, who had applied and paid for an Israeli issued licence to build in area C, did not expect the demolition order since the Israeli authorities had accepted the money and the application. When he tried to explain this to the soldiers they answered him that “they were not there to talk, they were there to demolish the houses.”
The soldiers then pointed their guns to his head and told him that if he didn’t move away from the house they would shoot him.
“They didn’t deal with us as humans, they pushed us back with violence and force” says Fadi whose family had planned to move into their dream house the following week.
“Three years ago we started to build the houses. Why didn’t they come three years ago before we spent all our money on these houses? They destroyed the houses, they destroyed our dreams” says Fadi, explaining that most of the families not only spent all their savings on the buildings but now they are also left with loans that will take them years to pay.
“We came up with the idea about building a house here because we are not allowed to use our house on the other side of the wall.” says Fadi, whose father lives in a house on the other side of the apartheid wall surrounding the village. Without obtaining a permit every month from the Israeli occupation authorities, the family are not allowed to cross the wall that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem.
Since the signing of the Oslo agreement in 1995 most of Qalandia village was classified as Area C, where israel has full control over security and civil administration. Only 2% of Qalandia is constituted as area B, where construction is permitted. Palestinian building in area C has to be permitted by the Israeli Civil Administration and since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank 1967, Israeli authorities regularly demolishe houses in area C, thus breaking international humanitarian law. According to a report released this Wednesday from Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli authorities have demolished more Palestinian homes in the West Bank in the first six months of 2016 than they did in any year over the past decade .
The Israeli demolition policies systematically implemented by the government and the lack of possibilities to build legally in the area constitutes the ethnic cleansing and forcible transfer of Palestinians.
As Fadi Awadallah points out, “Where are we supposed to be? In the sky? In the space? No, we are staying here.”
Deir Qaddis, Occupied Palestine – On the morning of July 14th, Israeli excavators arrived on Majid Mahmoud’s farmland in Deir Qaddis to begin work on an illegal expansion of a wastewater facility for the nearby illegal settlement of Nili.
Construction vehicles and Occupation forces were met by about fifty Palestinians from Deir Qaddis and nearby Nil’in in protest of the theft and destruction of village land, who refused to leave until the construction was halted. Through nonviolent means the villagers managed to temporarily prevent the destruction of their grazing lands, though excavation and land clearing did resume in the days afterwards. Illegal settlements around Deir Qaddis have been expanding for decades, swallowing up thousands of dunams and dispossessing farmers and agricultural workers in the area.
Majid’s land, now on the other side of a settler road, has been rendered mostly inaccessible by both the expansion of illegal settlements and the threat of violence from Israeli forces and private settlement security.
“We have no rights under this Occupation. I cannot ask the soldiers why they are on my land. It is as if I am being beaten, but cannot question it or raise my hands to stop it,” Majid said. “We have all the papers to prove ownership, but it does not matter.”
Majid and members of the local council are planning to bring the case to court and have all the documentation necessary to do so. They are not optimistic, however, about their chances.
Though the people of Deir Qaddis did succeed in halting the illegal construction on Thursday, it has since resumed. Fares Naser, mayor of the village, has little confidence that the settlement expansion and illegal construction will ever end. “It will not stop,” said Fares, “and the next generation will wonder why it is this way.”
Deir Qaddis is surrounded on three sides by the Apartheid Wall and the illegal Israeli settlements of Nili, Modi’in Illit, and Na’aleh, cutting it off from much of the West Bank. According to Fares, only 4,000 of the village’s original 10,000 dunams have not yet been seized by Israeli forces and settlers. Over ninety percent of the Deir Qaddis is classified as “Area C,” territory in which Israel maintains full military and civil control.
In 1999, Israeli authorities assured the people of Deir Qaddis that all land lying west of the town would remain untouched. Israel has since broken that promise, with both state confiscation and private theft of valuable farmland within Deir Qaddis. According to international law, all Israeli settlements are illegal, as is nearly every piece of the Israeli colonial apparatus. Israel will continue to build, and the people of Deir Qaddis will continue to resist the ongoing theft of their land and livelihoods.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli occupation police have handed professor Jamil Hamami, secretary-general of the higher Islamic commission in Occupied Jerusalem, a written order banning his travel abroad and to the West Bank.
According to this police order, Hamami will be prohibited from entering the West Bank for four months and the previous ban on his travel abroad will be extended for six months.
The police justified the measure against Hamami by saying that he is involved in banned activities and his departure for other countries will constitute a security threat to Israel.
For his part, Hamami, who works as a lecturer at al-Quds University, condemned Israel’s decision against him as “unjust and a violation of the Palestinians’ right to travel and movement”. He considered this Israeli step as “part of the Israeli campaign that targets the Palestinian dignitaries in Jerusalem.”