Separate and unequal: How Israel segregates its own citizens inside the Green Line

Israeli forces attack Palestinians during a demonstration against the construction of Jewish settlements in Nablus, West Bank on 25 August 2017

By Ben White

The pending demolitions of Khan Al-Ahmar and Susiya, two Palestinian communities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, along with the forced expulsion of their inhabitants, have been attracting international concern and protests.

Similarly, the recent eviction of a Palestinian family to make way for Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, prompted widespread condemnation (though, of course, no practical steps of censure or sanction).

In all three cases, the Israeli authorities and settlers deploy a variety of legal tools to dress up displacement and colonisation as merely “respect for the law” and “due process”.

But while such policies in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) have been widely denounced, even by the state’s allies, there is a profound lack of awareness about how Israel segregates its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, inside the Green Line – and the mechanisms used to do so.

Read: New report urges increased Palestinian coordination across the Green Line

A recent episode, one which barely registered any media coverage, offers an opportunity to understand how Israel’s institutionalised discrimination relates to land and housing rights.

A country club taken to court

Earlier this month, an Israeli court rejected a claim of discrimination brought by a Palestinian citizen, after he was refused membership of a Jewish community’s country club. According to the court, Kochav Ya’ir municipality is entitled to reserve 90 per cent of the subscriptions to its country club for town residents, “with the remainder available to Jewish and Arab residents of neighbouring towns”.

Dr Ahmed Mansour, from nearby Tira, filed a petition against Kochav Ya’ir’s municipality after the country club’s consistent refusal to accept Arab members. In response, the community changed its rules to exclude all non-residents – Arab and Jewish. According to the judge, such restrictions save a “homogenous” community the costs of “enforcing behavioural norms on non-residents”.

#ApartheidState

In an article published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz in August on the case, local residents were clear about the motivation for the rule change. “We don’t want the Arabs to swim with us,” said one. “When they were here, it wasn’t pleasant.” She added: “It’s no big deal if that’s the price our Jewish brothers [outside the local council] have to pay.”

At a 2010 council meeting, one resident concluded: “Since we can’t deny only Arabs from being members, the residents of…[neighbouring Jewish communities] are harmed.” A resident of a nearby Jewish town was sympathetic:

Jews and Arabs aren’t the same thing. They don’t deserve to swim with us. I’d rather they don’t go in the pool, even if it means I can’t use it.

Admission committees and segregating space

The case of Kochav Ya’ir–Tzur Yig’al (its full name reflects a merging of two communities in 2003) is illustrative of far deeper, systematic discrimination than a rural country club. Want to keep Palestinians out of your swimming pool? No problem, restrict access to residents only. And why is that a solution? Because non-Jews are prevented from living in the community in the first place.

Admission committees are a core component of Israel’s segregated land and housing system – in the words of Israeli paper The Marker, they keep hundreds of rural communities “off limits” to Palestinian citizens. Yet few outside observers – including those justifiably outraged by displacement in the West Bank – appreciate how they function, or even know of their existence.

A rare exception to this silence was a 2008 report by Human Rights Watch, which described how the committees “determine who can gain admittance to all communities of fewer than 500 households”, based on “vague criteria”. The committees, it went on, “have notoriously been used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities”.

Rules introduced in 2010 by the Israel Land Authority “stressed the regulatory right of the regional committee to reject applicants on the grounds that their acceptance ‘will create another community within the present community in a way that would harm its character’.”

As Israeli academic Marcelo Svirsky drily commented: “The discursive creativity of the discriminator is to be admired; not an explicit racist word and yet a whole world of racism implicated in it.”

In 2011, the Israeli parliament passed the “Admissions Committees Law”, affirming the role of the committees in 43 per cent of all towns in Israel. In 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court rejecteda petition against the law, and in so doing, the petitioners said, “legalise[d] the principle of segregation in housing between Arab and Jewish citizens”.

Read: Timeline of Israel’s anti-Palestinian laws since 1948

A 2013 article by Seth Frantzman in the Jerusalem Post describes the committees as “a uniquely Israeli invention; no other country in the world allows 90 per cent of its rural communities to operate committees that restrict who may live in them”. This “affront to human dignity” is all the worse for the fact that “their proceedings are kept secret and no data on their decisions are published”.

Frantzman adds:

What is most shocking is that Jews would never tolerate such a situation in another country. In France, Germany, Russia, the UK, Australia, Argentina or the US, Jews would never tolerate being asked about their religion, ethnic background, politics and marital status before being ‘allowed’ to move to a suburban neighbourhood.

While the admission committees ensure that rural communities remain Jewish, the regional councils ensure that these communities play a role in securing spatial control far disproportionate to their population size. For, in the words of Israeli professor Yehouda Shenhav, the regional councils are no ordinary local government entity but “operate on policy developed in settlers’ societies”.

In the Galilee, regional councils with a Jewish Ashkenazi majority control over 63 per cent of the land, but are populated by just “six per cent of the area’s population”. While Palestinian citizens constitute 72 per cent of the region’s population, their local councils control just 16 per cent of the land. “Segregation within the Green Line is no less than the segregation across it,” Shenhav observes.

Judaising the Galilee, blurring the Green Line

Such an observation rings all the truer in light of the history of Kochav Ya’ir–Tzur Yig’al. The latter was created in 1991 as part of then-Housing Minister Ariel Sharon’s “Seven Stars Plan”, whose aim was to establish new Jewish towns next to the Green Line “with the declared intention of its consequent eradication” (a goal acknowledged on the municipality’s website).

Internally displaced Palestinians in the Galilee gather in the depopulated village of Kufr Birim

At the time, the Seven Stars Plan was described by Israeli activist Michal Schwartz as “the largest such Judaisation plan ever to be approved”. Schwartz told a United Nations meeting that “the aim of the plan was not only to enhance Jewish population, but to curb Arab population growth”, and was initially “kept secret from the Arab heads of local councils and mayors”.

These Judaisation drives are ongoing. In August, it was reported that “Israel’s executive arm for settlement construction has begun advancing plans for new Jewish communities in the Galilee…in a declared effort to create a demographic balance between Jews and Arabs in the northern region.”

In the southern Naqab/Negev region, meanwhile, Bedouin Palestinian citizens experience routine demolitions and displacement. In Umm Al-Hiran, an entire community is seemingly doomed to destruction, specifically in order for a new Jewish town to be established on its ruins.

Separate and unequal

Around 90 per cent of Israel’s Palestinian citizens live in Arab towns. Even in so-called “mixed cities”, “Arabs and Jews are residentially segregated and reside in different neighbourhoods, similarly to the regional and national segregation in Israel since the establishment of the state.” The admission committees and regional councils are instrumental parts of the “separate and unequal” status quo.

In 2012, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, returned from a visit to Israel, where she reported that she had witnessed “a land development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities”. This model, Rolnik added, “is being replicated in the occupied territory, affecting Palestinian communities.”

However, while the discrimination faced by Palestinians under military occupation is attracting increasing attention and criticism, the reality inside the Green Line is almost entirely neglected. Correcting this state of affairs would not just shine a light on a serious injustice, but help illuminate the core issues that require tackling if there is ever to be equal rights for all in Israel and the oPt.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

11-year-old Palestinian shot in the head with rubber bullet during raid in Shufat

11 y shot in head

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Three Palestinians, including an 11-year-old boy, were injured Monday evening when Israeli forces raided Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, sparking violent clashes.The Palestinian Red Crescent said that the child was evacuated in a moderate condition to Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem after Israeli forces shot him in the forehead with a rubber-coated steel bullet.A man in his 60s and another resident who was not identified further were also treated on the scene after they were shot with rubber bullets. Several others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.Spokesman for the Fatah movement in Shufat Thaer Fasfous said that Israeli forces had stormed the camp through its main entrance in large numbers and deployed heavily in the refugee camp’s streets, causing clashes to erupt between local youth and Israeli troops.An Israeli police spokesperson told Ma’an via telephone that he was “not familiar” with the incident.

Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Due to the typically aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians during clashes, particularly in refugee camps, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response.
Shufat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel’s municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

Israel Imposes Tight Siege On The West Bank

02 OCT
6:46 AM

The Israeli occupation authorities have decided to impose a tight siege on the entire West Bank for eleven days while it celebrates Sukkot Jewish holiday.

The decision was made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, although the military leadership expressed concerns regarding this move, which could lead to further tension and deterioration to the already escalated security condition.

The siege will take effect at midnight, this coming Tuesday, October 3rd and will remain in effect until Saturday evening, October 14th.

It is worth mentioning that the West Bank was also placed under a tight siege this past Friday and Saturday, during Yom Kippur holiday.

Although Lieberman claimed that the move comes in response to the fatal shooting which was carried out on Tuesday September 26th, leading to the death of one Palestinian and three Israeli officers, Israel has always placed the occupied territories under strict sieges while it celebrates national and religious holidays.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

Gaza activists decry rise in torture within prisons

The number of victims of torture in Hamas-controlled prisons and detention centers in the Gaza Strip has increased significantly in recent months based on reports by Palestinian human rights centers. Torture has become a key method of interrogating detainees in the majority of cases.

Mohammed Sufian al-Qassas, 30, a resident of Khan Yunis, was arrested on Sept. 18 by three officers of the intelligence services inside his internet cafe, claiming they had received complaints that some of his clients were “insulting God.”

His uncle, Mohammed Yahya al-Qassas, told Al-Monitor that the officers attacked him severely before his arrest.

“They started beating him up using their guns and sticks ever since they got ahold of him in the cafe until they arrived at the headquarters of the intelligence agency. When they took him in, they brutally assaulted him all over until blood came out of his mouth, nose and ears. His face got all swollen and he ended up with some broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a smashed foot. They then held his head over a toilet seat and poured burning hot water all over his face,” he said.

Yahya Qassas explained that after the torture, which lasted for several hours, they left his nephew at the door of a hospital in the city of Khan Yunis. “Later we were informed of his presence at the hospital and we were shocked by the sight and the amount of torture he was obviously subjected to. He was in a coma for 2½ days,” he noted.

Many cases of torture have occurred in Hamas-controlled prisons and detention centers in the Gaza Strip, some of which resulted in death, such as Hassan al-Humeidi, 23, from Deir el-Balah, who died after being tortured on Nov. 3, 2011.

His brother Ali al-Humeidi told Al-Monitor, “My brother Hassan was arrested without any charge, and he had never been summoned before. I remember he was asleep when a special police force broke into the family’s house in Deir el-Balah and arrested him. Less than an hour into the interrogation, he was beaten all over, his bones were broken and he was hit on the back of his head with a weapon, causing an internal bleeding.”

Hassan remained in a state of clinical death for a week until he was declared dead on Nov. 11, 2011, according to his brother.

The Humeidi family told Al-Monitor about a video filmed by the Ministry of the Interior in Gaza that documented the arrest of their son. The family documented in another video the signs of torture on his body.

Human rights organizations operating in the Gaza Strip have monitored many cases of torture in Gaza prisons in 2016-17, which were described as “recurring.”

After he was severely tortured, detainee Khalil Abu Harb, from Gaza City, committed suicide on Sept. 19. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) demanded in a Sept. 20 statement that the attorney general and decision-makers in the Gaza Strip stop what the PCHR described as a state of decay in detention centers. The PCHR demanded that they put an end to torture in prisons and abide by Palestinian law.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) issued its monthly report for July on Sept. 20. The ICHR noted that during July, it received 38 complaints of torture and ill-treatment in the Palestinian territories, 26 of which were in Gaza, and they included 22 complaints against the police and four against the Internal Security Service.

In its annual report for 2016, the ICHR revealed that it documented hundreds of complaints submitted by victims of torture in detention centers and prisons in the Gaza Strip that year.

PCHR’s legal researcher Mohammed Abu Hashim told Al-Monitor that there is a lack of comprehensive and accurate statistics on cases of torture in prisons and detention centers, because the victims of torture are reluctant to confront the authorities. They do not trust in their ability to protect them or provide some form of compensation either by the judiciary or human rights centers.

Abu Hashim added, “The vast majority of defendants are subjected to one or more methods of torture. The journey of torture begins from the time of arrest until the trial. Torture is a systematic policy of interrogation, and it is more rampant with arrests of a criminal nature. Alleged criminals are reluctant to submit complaints because of the nature of their cases, and the interrogators justify torture with the lack of other resources, claiming that security cannot be achieved otherwise.”

Said Seyam, the minister of interior in the government formed by Hamas after winning the 2006 legislative elections, announced on April 20, 2006, the opening of a new position for general inspector of the Ministry of Interior to monitor the work of the government security services.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, the general inspector, Mohammad Lafi, said that they formed committees to investigate all recent incidents that led to injuries and deaths among the detainees, stressing that the results of the investigation are binding.

He added, “Today, for example, I received the results of an investigation, and they have been applied. Punishments vary according to the charge, either those found guilty are imprisoned or their ranks are lowered, as some are high-ranking officers, and we investigate everyone and everything to get to the truth. We understand cases of self-defense, if the arrestee was not being cooperative and attacked the officers, we get why they would use force, as long as it does not turn into torture.”

Lafi believes that, to date, the committees have not proved any deliberate killings, describing the illegal violations committed by some officers as “undeliberate and reflecting wrong judgment in the field.”

(Source / 02.10.2017)

14,000 Palestinians arrested over the last 2 years

14000 Pal's arrested

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested some 14,000 Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories over the last two years, according to a rights group.

Palestine Center for Prisoners’ Studies said that 14,000 Palestinians were detained since the start of Jerusalem Intifada on Oct.1, 2015 including 3,100 minors, 437 women, and 450 online activists.

Almost all the detainees were subjected to psychological or physical torture in Israeli detention and investigation centers in total violation of international laws and conventions, the center added.

The rise in Israeli arrests had intensified after the Jerusalem Intifada, according to the source.

2,860 administrative detention orders were issued over the reported period, 17 of which were issued against female detainees while 42 others targeted minors.

65 young girls were among the female detainees, six of them suffered live shot injuries during their arrest.

16 Palestinian MPs were also detained over the reported period, ten of them are still being held in Israeli jails.

The figures also documented the arrest of 150 elderly people, 39 academics, 240 patients and disabled people, and 115 journalists.

Over the past two years, six prisoners died, rising the number of Palestinian detainees who lost their lives behind Israeli bars to 212.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

Palestinian young man arrested in O. J‘lem

Young man arrested

The Israeli police arrested Sunday evening a Palestinian youngster after chasing his car in Beit Atata to the northeast of occupied Jerusalem.

Local sources reported that the unidentified detainee was taken in a military vehicle to an unknown detention center.

Israeli army carries out daily arrest campaigns in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem with the aim of foiling the Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

(Source / 02.10.2017)

Palestinian journalist sent to Israeli jail without trial

Kidnapping journalist Mohamed Awad

The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Sunday sentenced the Palestinian journalist Mohamed Awad, 30, to administrative detention, with neither charge nor trial.

The lawyer told Awad’s family that the detainee was sentenced administratively for an indefinite period. A court hearing is slated to be held on Wednesday to confirm the prison term.

Awad was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces on Thursday evening from his home in Ramallah’s western town of Badres. He was transferred to the Israeli Ofer jail.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

23 Palestinians kidnapped by Israeli army at daybreak

23 Pal's kidnapped

At least 23 Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at daybreak Monday in an abduction sweep rocking the West Bank.

The Israeli army claimed responsibility for the abduction of 23 Palestinians from the West Bank.

Israeli soldiers raided Nablus city and wreaked havoc on civilian homes before they kidnapped four Palestinian young men, among them 21-year-old Mohamed Amer. The occupation soldiers smashed the car of Amer’s brother.

Two Palestinian journalists—Alaa al-Titi and Amir Abu Aram—working for al-Aqsa TV Channel were also kidnapped by the occupation forces from al-Khalil and Ramallah provinces.

Last week, an Israeli court ruled that Aqsa correspondents be banned from working in the occupied West Bank for one year.

The campaign culminated in the abduction of two Palestinians from Bethlehem, another from Nablus, three from Ramallah, one from Jericho, and another from al-Khalil.

In the meantime, IOF soldiers in a flock of Israeli military jeeps stormed Jenin’s refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, and ransacked civilian homes before they kidnapped two Palestinian young men, identified as Nour al-Hendi and Hamouda Abu Khalifa.

The IOF further set up a military checkpoint near the main entrance to Jenin’s southern town of Yabad, where Palestinian civilians have been subjected to tough crackdowns and intensive inspection.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

86 Israeli settlers break into Muslims 3rd holiest site

86 settlers Al-Aqsa

Dozens of Israeli settlers stormed on Monday morning al-Aqsa Mosque—the third holiest site in Islam—in Occupied Jerusalem.

At least 86 Israeli settlers, escorted by policemen and special forces, broke into al-Aqsa Mosque as part of the morning break-in shift and carried out a round of sacrilegious tours.

At the same time, the peaceful Muslim worshipers have been subjected to tough crackdowns and restrictions by the Israeli police as they attempted to enter the site to perform their daily prayers.

(Source / 02.10.2017)

Israeli court sentences Jerusalemite to 17 years

Tareq Duwaik 17 y jail

Israel’s Lod District Court sentenced a 24-year-old Jerusalemite detainee, Tareq Duwaik, to 17 years of imprisonment.

Head of the families of Jerusalemite prisoners committee, Amjad Abu Asab, said in a press statement that captive Duwaik was also fined 80,000 shekels during the court hearing on Monday morning.

Detainee Duwaik was convicted with attempted murder against settlers as he carried out an anti-occupation stabbing attack on October 13, 2015 north of Tel Aviv. The stabbing attack led to some injuries among Jewish settlers, Abu Asab pointed out.

Prisoner Duwaik was brutally beaten by settlers after the attack and, as a result, was seriously injured, he said, adding that Duwaik had to stay in hospital for a long time to heal from his injuries.

(Source / 02.10.2017)