In about two weeks, Israelis go to the polls. In theory, those of us who want to vote and have given some thought to the burning issues at hand will go to take part in the “celebration of democracy”.
Yet there are two serious problems with this description. First,the burning issues are being swept under the rug, virtually undiscussed in this election campaign. Second, not everyone who may want to vote can do so.
The occupation – unarguably the most important political and human rights issue in Israel in the past five decades – is all but invisible these elections.Holding on to the “status quo” illusion apparently trumps debate. Just six months after a traumatic, bloody summer, we hear almost nothing about Gaza. But Gaza and the occupation are very much here, part of our present and future.
It’s not only important issues being cast aside, but also the millions of people living under occupation are being literally shut out. While it makes little sense for people who have lived under a temporary military occupation for six months to participate in the political process of the occupying power, what happens after ten years?Thirty? Forty seven and counting? If the occupation isn’t temporary, then what is the basis for denying the right of millions to participate in a “celebration of democracy”, where all those living under a regime take part in deciding their political future?
For more than two generations, millions have been denied the right to participate in the political process that determines our fate on this piece of land.Those who will get to vote will do so over the heads of these right less subjects.
If the 20th Knesset we elect on 17 March lives out its days, it will be the Israeli parliament that ushers in the occupation’s fiftieth year. The occupation is not temporary, and it is not democratic. With your support, we at B'Tselem will continue todo our utmost to bring this reality to light and help change it. It is doubtful that the upcoming election will herald this change, but we will continue to fight until the injustice ends.
On 29 Jan. 2015, the Civil Administration dismantled water pipes recently installed for the small shepherding community of Khirbet Yarza in the Jordan Valley and confiscated the parts. Before the installation, the community relied on rainwater and private water purchase. This is one measure of several taken by Israeli authorities to relocate thousands of Palestinians living in Area C. As the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel must allow residents to maintain their lifestyle, permit them to build legally, and provide them water and electricity.
Safiyeh a-Najar from Khuza'a describes life after Operation Protective Edge. The town of Khuza'a lies in south Gaza, about 500 meters from the Israeli border. The town council listed some 15,000 residents before the operation, in about 2,000 homes. Residents told B’Tselem that on 22 July 2014, 2 days after ground forces entered Gaza, the town was heavily attacked and many fled to schools in nearby Khan Yunis. The UN listed 556 homes damaged, 336 of them destroyed. Many residents still live in UN schools, trailers, or with relatives. Some, like a-Najar's family, are living in rough conditions among ruins.
In a dramatic ruling, Israel's High Court of Justice accepted a petition filed by Palestinians from the West Bank village of 'Ein Yabrud together with Israeli human rights organizations B'Tselem and Yesh Din, and instructed the state to carry out demolition orders issued for nine structures built for the settlement of Ofra on the villagers' land. Most other structures in the settlement were also unlawfully built on privately-owned Palestinian land, without permits. B'Tselem welcomes the ruling but notes that the overall picture remains unchanged: Israel has been taking over Palestinian land in the West Bank for years, whether by gaining control of private land or by appropriating public land for settlement use under the guise of 'state land'.
Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah is a tiny community of 24, including 14 minors, who live off farming and shepherding in the Jordan Valley. Israeli authorities have repeatedly attempted to expel the community from their place of residence and have repeatedly demolished their homes, as part of a decades-long policy to expel thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of shepherding communities scattered throughout Area C. On 22 January 2015, bulldozers again demolished all the community’s structures, for the fourth time since January 2014. ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem’s field researcher in the Jordan Valley, documented the trail of destruction the bulldozers left behind on 22 Jan.