Updates

Settlements

"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

November 2

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.

October 28

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.

October 26

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.

September 17

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.

September 10

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.

May 14

Over the past decade downtown Hebron has become a ghost town. Israel has enacted a strict segregationist policy there, enforced by imposing stringent restrictions on Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles, closing shops and businesses, and not safeguarding Palestinians from settler violence. As a result, entire neighborhoods have been deserted. We took a group of American Young Judeans on a tour of downtown Hebron. This was the first time most of them had been to downtown Hebron. Sharon Azran, a photographer and a B’Tselem staff member, joined the tour. Below are some of her photos:

January 16

Residents of ‘Awarta have recently been notified of requisition orders issued by the military “on security grounds” for some 63 dunams of land that they own, close to the Itamar settlement. In 2000, members of the settlement illegally created a path around the land, and they have since prevented the farmers from entering the land. Instead of enforcing the law on the settlers, the military demands prior coordination from farmers wishing to enter their land, permitting them to do so only for several days a year. As the requisition order now issued almost totally matches the land taken over by the settlement, it serves to whitewash the theft. If security around the Itamar settlement has to be improved, the military must do so without taking over the land and without causing additional loss to the Palestinian landowners’ livelihood.

July 28

The military court trial of Nariman a-Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, two Palestinian women arrested at a non-violent demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, will begin on 9 July 2013. This legal action is unprecedented, as there is no charge of violence. Moreover, the prosecution acknowledged it wishes to prevent the women from demonstrating – unacceptable grounds for arrest. B’Tselem: “The military prosecution’s handling of the matter, and particularly its unprecedented request to remand non-violent demonstrators for the duration of legal proceedings, raises the suspicion that the military might be exploiting these proceedings to keep Nariman a-Tamimi from carrying on her joint activity with her husband, Bassem, in a-Nabi Saleh’s struggle against the village being dispossessed of its land.”

July 7

60% of the West Bank is designated Area C, under exclusive Israeli control. It is home to 180,000 Palestinians and includes most West Bank land reserves. Israel, citing “state lands” or “firing zones”, largely prohibits Palestinian construction. Israel’s planning policy ignores local needs: refuses to recognize villages or draft plans; blocks development and infrastructure hook-ups; and demolishes homes. Thousands are in danger of expulsion for living in firing zones or “illegal” communities. Israel has appropriated most water sources and restricts Palestinian access to them.

June 5

On 24 April 2013, as has been a frequent occurrence of late, settlers from Giv’at Gal came onto the privately owned land of the Zaro family, of Hebron. The landowners called the police to report the trespassing. Israeli soldiers came to the scene and, rather than sending the settlers away, arrested the Palestinians. Part of the incident was filmed by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera project. The detainees were released the following day by a military judge after this footage was presented in court and it was proven that the there was no justification for the arrest, which involved violence towards one of the Zaros.

May 1

Israeli Hebrew daily Haaretz reports that today Israel's High Court of Justice will hear the petition filed by Palestinians from Bethlehem and the village of Nahleh. The petition is against Israel's decision to declare as "state land" about 1,000 dunams (100 hectares) southwest of Bethlehem in order to build a new neighborhood in the settlement of Efrat. The takeover of this land would block any possibility of development in Bethlehem or the villages south of the city, which are home to tens of thousands and are already surrounded by settlements. To learn more about what declaration of state land means and how Israel uses it to take over Palestinian land, click here.

March 13

Miriam Leedor, director of public outreach at B'Tselem , in an Op-ed originally published by Ynetnews website: According to int'l law, 'state-owned' lands in West Bank can be used only for the benefit of the local Palestinian population.

December 18

Israel has reportedly decided to advance construction in the E-1 area of Ma'ale Adumim, connecting the settlement to Jerusalem. Such a move would have severe implications for human rights in the West Bank, cutting the West Bank in two, exacerbating the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and posing a particular threat to Bedouin communities living in the area.

December 2

In response to the planned segregation, B’Tselem executive director Jessica Montell said, “The attempt at bus segregation is appalling, and the current arguments about ‘security needs’ and ‘overcrowding’ must not be allowed to camouflage the blatant racism of the demand to remove Palestinians from buses.”

November 27

Between October 7th and 10th, 2012, with the start of the West Bank's annual olive harvest, B'Tselem has documented five cases of injury to Palestinian farmers and their olive trees in the Ramallah and Nablus regions. In two incidents, settlers attacked farmers picking olives and damaged their yields. The accumulation of incidents since the start of the olive harvest suggests that security forces were not adequately deployed to fulfill their duty to protect Palestinian olive harvesters and their property from settler violence.

October 11

In light of the intention to upgrade the Ariel academic center to a university, B'Tselem provides some examples of the way this settlement harms human rights: Located in the center of the West Bank, Ariel was built on land that served the residents of nearby Palestinian villages. Ariel's wastewater pollutes the water sources of the nearby Palestinian town Salfit. To allow Israeli settlers a smooth commute between Ariel and Israel, Palestinian villages in the region were cut off from their regional capital.

July 17

On 9 July 2012, the media published the recommendations of a government-appointed committee on "steps to be taken to regularize construction" in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Given that the Levy Committee was founded explicitly to find ways of legalizing illegal acts, it is not surprising that its conclusions appear tailored to the settlement agenda. The report's conclusions have no basis in international law and almost completely ignore the people most hurt by the establishment of settlements, the two and a half million Palestinians of the West Bank.

July 11

Five human rights organizations sent an urgent letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Judea and Samaria Police District Commander Amos Yaakov, and GOC Central Command General Nitzan Alon, demanding a preconceived and proactive approach to the possiblitly of violent activities carried out by extreme right-wing activists against Palestinians in the days leading up to the removal of five houses from Ulpana Hill in the settlement of Beit El.

June 25

On Wednesday, 20 June 2012, the Israeli government’s Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs approved an agreement to evacuate five buildings in Ulpana Hill, a neighborhood of the Beit El settlement. Following the approval, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the significance of the agreement is in “safeguarding the law.” The precise law to which the Prime Minister is referring, however, is unclear, and the agreement that was signed is not legal -- neither in light of High Court rulings nor under international law.

June 25