On 21 Oct. 2015 PM Netanyahu retroactively approved an urban building plan for the settlement of Itamar. A week later he granted similar approval to 3 more settlements. Once again Israel retroactively approved settlement construction it had deemed illegal for years defined. Contrary to media reports that presented the PM as capitulating to pressure from settlers, his actions are consistent with a long-standing Israeli policy to facilitate de facto annexation of West Bank land.
In Aug. 2015, Israel renewed construction work on the Separation Barrier near the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, seizing private land and uprooting ancient olive trees. This creates facts on the ground although legal proceedings are still underway. The barrier will sever residents from their farmland, which provides vital income and rare recreation, block expansion of Beit Jala, damage ties with monasteries in the Cremisan Valley that service the community, and complete the effective annexation to Israel of large tracts of last.
On 7 April 2015, during the Passover holidays, hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to Birkat al-Karmil, a natural pool recently renovated by the Yatta Municipality as part of a new park in Area A. The troops instructed Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and the center of the park, clearing it for the exclusive use of the settlers. The incident illustrates the conduct of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank: catering to almost every settler whim at the expense of Palestinians. B'Tselem wrote to the IDF Spokesperson requesting a response to the incident, including a series of detailed questions. The IDF Spokesperson replied with a laconic response that offers no explanation for the authorities' conduct in the incident.
The High Court of Justice is enabling the Civil Administration to demolish the village of Khirbet Susyiya, in effect ejecting the residents from their land, even as their petition appealing the rejection of their master plan for the village is still pending. At any moment, the Civil Administration might now demolish the village homes, leaving the residents with no shelter in harsh desert conditions. This mode of operation by the Israeli authorities allows them to take over additional lands and drive out communities from Area C. The absence of official annexation aside, the reality of the matter is that annexation and dispossession are already here in actual fact.
In the last few days, Israeli authorities completed the reopening of the road that connects Palestinian villages Beitin and others in the northeast Ramallah District with the city of Ramallah via the DCO checkpoint. Due to existing restrictions in the DCO checkpoint, the opening allowed access to Ramallah only for the use of private vehicles and in one direction only. However, this partial improvement in the freedom of movement of Palestinian area residents was short-lived: only one day after the much-publicized reopening of the road, the military blocked it off with rocks. The grounds given were that some of the Palestinian drivers did not obey a stop sign placed on the road in order to give the right of way to Israeli settlers from Beit El. The original closure of the Beitin junction to Palestinians was in order to allow Beit El settlers exclusive use of the road on their way to route 60.
Now that the Israeli prime minister has instructed the Minister of Defense to freeze the pilot plan to keep Palestinians off the buses used by settlers, the most explicit and blatant manifestation of the segregation and discrimination regime will temporarily be put on hold. However, the policy of segregation and discrimination against Palestinians has existed on the ground for a long time and it is the direct continuation of the regime of occupation and settlement. It is therefore no surprise that the lords of the land are now demanding racial segregation on buses.
A Civil Administration representative accompanied by soldiers arrived this morning at Khirbet Susiya, the South Hebron Hills and photographed and measured structures there. Based on past experience, residents fear the CA is preparing to demolish the village shortly and eject them from their land. This further to Justice Sohlberg’s decision to not issue an interim injunction on demolitions as sought by the residents in a petition that argued that the CA rejected their master plan for immaterial reasons. This harsh, unlawful move is part of Israel’s policy in Area C to facilitate the takeover of Palestinian land for settlements and the removal of Palestinian communities from Area C to Areas A and B in preparation for the annexation of lands to Israel.
On 13 May 2011, Milad ‘Ayash, 17, was hit by a live bullet fired at him from the Beit Yehonatan settlement in Silwan, East Jerusalem. ‘Ayash died of his wounds the next day. Both the DIP and the Israel Police investigated the shooting; both closed their case files citing “perpetrator unknown.” B'Tselem appealed to the State Attorney’s Office against the decision to close the investigations, noting grave investigative failings. The negligence with which the investigations were conducted and the closing of the files evince disregard by Israeli authorities for Palestinian lives.
Today, 23 April, the annual settlers’ walk will be held in Wadi Qana. During the walk, established 2006, the military prohibits Palestinian farmers, owners of wadi land, and the Palestinian general public from entering the wadi. The event symbolizes the systematic displacement of the farmers of Wadi Qana from their land and the seizure of the area by the settlers, with the assistance of the Nature and Parks Authority and the Civil Administration.
The military resumed its segregation on the main street of a-Salaimeh neighborhood, in force from Sep. 2012 to Mar. 2013 when it was abandoned following to the airing of footage by B'Tselem. The military again bans Palestinians from the main part of the street, directing them to a narrow side road. This is part of the military’s overall policy of severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, implemented ever since the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs perpetrated by settler Baruch Goldstein.
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'.
Geneva Convention High Contracting Parties call on Israel to respect the Convention, including in East Jerusalem. Through almost 50 years of occupation, Israel has brazenly breached the Convention, while benefitting from belonging to the “club” of signatories. Israel’s excuses for its breaches have been repeatedly rejected by experts and tribunals, and now, also by the Conference. The resolution reflects the illegality of the ongoing occupation and its attendant human rights violations, the baselessness of Israel’s claims of compliance with the Convention and Israel’s ever deteriorating international status as the violations persist.
Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died today, Human Rights Day, after joining farmers in nonviolent protest against barred access to their land in the West Bank. While the circumstances of his death need clarifying, the reason for the protest and how Israeli security forces handle Palestinian protests are well-known. The state sends settlers to grab Palestinian land in the West Bank and then sends the army to forcefully silence protest – sometimes, at a lethal price. That is how Human Rights Day looks under occupation.
East Jerusalem does not exist in a vacuum. The recent violence in East Jerusalem is happening against the backdrop of a harsh, ongoing state of occupation. There are land grabs and discrimination, as well as severe restrictions on construction and development. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the violence is a “direct outcome of incitement by Abu Mazen”. Yet the direct, causal link Netanyahu is trying to portray ignores the overall picture, which includes Israeli authorities manipulating the declaration of national parks in East Jerusalem for political ends.
"We think a thousand times before we build, go on vacation, study, work, trade, or grow crops. It’s not because of laziness, or inability. It’s because of concerns about the obstacles, about harassment and attacks by the Israeli military or by settlers. It’s as if we live in a big prison, with invisible walls, as a result of the restrictions imposed on us." From Lana Kan'an's testimony, taken by Iyad Hadad on 21 March 2014
The report published today concerns the village of Burqah, Ramallah District. A rather unremarkable village, Burqah has never taken center stage in the fight against the occupation, and has not been subjected to extreme punitive measures. In fact, we chose to focus on Burqah precisely because it is unexceptional, as a case in point demonstrating what life under the occupation is like for residents of Palestinian villages. Burqah is a small, picturesque village, set amidst fields. Like many other villages, it endures severe travel restrictions which isolate it from its surroundings. It is also subject to massive land-grabs and stifled planning, all of which have turned it into a derelict, crowded and backward village with half its population living at or below the poverty line.
In response to reports that Israeli Minster of Defense Moshe Ya’alon intends to yield to the settler demand to prevent Palestinian day laborers from returning home to the West Bank on Israeli public buses, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says that Minister Ya'alon is not content with merely moving Palestinians to the back of the bus, but means to keep them off buses altogether. It is time to stop hiding behind technical arrangements such as the demand that Palestinians return to the West Bank through the same checkpoint they entered Israel, and admit this military procedure is thinly veiled pandering to the demand for racial segregation on buses.
The Civil Administration has published a plan to relocate thousands of Bedouins from the Jordan Valley and Ma'ale Adumim area to a new settlement. The plan ignores the residents’ needs and breaches the prohibition on forcible transfer. All plans for “permanent sites” for Bedouins, which dictate extreme changes to their lifestyle, must be cancelled. The Administration must allow Bedouins to plan their current homes lawfully, connect them to water and power grids, and provide them with health and education services.
On 25 Aug. 2014, Israel declared some 380 hectares of West Bank land as state land – according to media reports, in retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli youths in June. Not only is this prohibited collective punishment, but public land in the West Bank is supposed to serve Palestinians, not settlers. The location of the land suggests this move is meant to create territorial contiguity between Israel and nearby settlements, effectively erasing the Green Line. B’Tselem calls for immediate revocation of the declaration.
On 13 May 2014 the HCJ rejected a petition by settlements in the Ma’ale Adumim area to implement demolition orders for a school and homes in Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin community. The rejection was grounded in the State’s announced plan to relocate the community to a site north of Jericho and its declared intention of preventing harm to minors. The relocation plan has yet to be shown to the residents, who object to the idea and demand a planning solution at their current location. International law prohibits forced transfer of protected civilians.