Updates

Settlements

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

On Tuesday, 12 June 2012, Israel’s Civil Administration distributed demolition orders to over 50 temporary structures in the Palestinian village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills. Residents were given three days, until 15 June 2012, to appeal the orders through the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Council. Residents are planning to submit their opposition today (14 June 2012).If the demolition orders are carried out, this will be the third time that Israel has tried to expel the residents of Susiya from their lands.

June 14

The Committee to Examine the State of Construction in the West Bank, Chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmund Levy, is expected to announce its position in the near future. In anticipation of this, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has called on the committee to not cooperate with the government's intention to legalize settlement building on West Bank land.

May 24

In June 2011, B’Tselem and the Guardian produced "East Jerusalem: Six Voices". A project in which six Palestinians and Israelis were given cameras to create video diaries of their lives, under the shadow of the settlement enterprise in occupied East Jerusalem. The diaries offer a glimpse into the impact of the volatile reality on their lives.

May 20

On 29 March 2012 dozens of settlers took over a building’s third floor in the Old City of Hebron. On 2 April 2012 the army issued an evacuation order instructing the settlers to leave by the following morning. On 4 April 2012 the security services evacuated the new settlement and sealed the entrances. Since then, the army has placed a guard on the building. The settlement points in Hebron were created in violation of international law and seriously interfere with the human rights of the Palestinian residents. Hence, Israel is legally and morally obliged to evacuate the Hebron settlers and return them to its own territory.

April 3

A New B'Tselem report examined Israel's policy of declaring land in the West Bank "state land". The research reveals that large areas were classified as state land for the use of settlements even though the land was actually privately or collectively owned by Palestinians. This was achieved by re-writing the interpretation to the Ottoman Land Law. This way, between 1979-2000, Israel declared more than 900,000 dunums as state land, an addition of 170% to the total before 1967.

March 8

The natural resources of an occupied territory must be used to benefit local residents, unless they are needed for urgent military purposes. Yet on 26 Dec. '11, an Israeli High Court of Justice ruling given by President Justice Dorit Beinisch allowed the state and Israeli entrepreneurs to loot West Bank quarries. The judgment blatantly contradicts the principles laid out by the Court over 30 years, as well as international law. It may enable Israel to treat the West Bank and its resources as annexed territory, while ignoring Palestinians' rights.

January 16