Today – 52 years to the day since Israel began occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – we launched a new interactive project, “Conquer and Divide,” a collaboration with independent research agency Forensic Architecture, the project illustrates the various measures Israel has used to encroach upon Palestinian space over the decades; how Israel has shattered the land into small, isolated units; and how it has instituted divisions, keeping Palestinians from different areas apart from one another and from Israelis.
In recent months, shepherds from the Palestinian communities of al-Farisiyah in the northern Jordan Valley have reported an upsurge in the frequency and severity of attacks by settlers and soldiers when they go out to graze their flocks. These incidents are part of the policy Israel has been implementing in the Jordan Valley. Its goal is to take over land by various measures, including by making life unbearable for Palestinians. It includes coordinated attacks by soldiers and settlers and a comprehensive ban on the development of Palestinian communities.
On Friday, 26 Oct, 2018, dozens of settlers tried yet again to invade an archeological site on land belonging to the village of al-Mazra'ah al-Qibliyah, escorted by security forces, as they have done over the last few months. They soon retreated, but clashes between the forces and residents continued. Later, when the forces began to leave, several dozen young men from the village ran after them. When they got close, at least one Border Police officer fired at them, wounding nine, two of whom died afterwards. Settlers frequently invade Palestinian-owned land with security forces’ backup. Yet the lethal outcome of this incident is unusual and defies every letter of the open fire regulations.
The olive harvest was once a joyful time for Palestinian families. Yet for many years now, it has been taking place under the shadow of landgrab, restrictions on access to land, attacks on harvesters and vandalization of trees. This reality, which forces farmers to abandon their lands, is no accident. It is the outcome of Israeli policy, facilitating the takeover of land to expand settlements or advance other Israeli interests. This year, B’Tselem recorded 2 physical assaults on harvesters and 9 cases of vandalization or crop theft in the Nablus and Ramallah Districts.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.