Wave of settler violence kicks off olive harvest in West Bank

‘The lack of law enforcement by the Israeli security forces is intentional as settler violence is seen as a privatised arm of the state’

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers picking olives in the village of Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 2019
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers picking olives in the village of Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 2019
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers picking olives in the village of Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 2019
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers picking olives in the village of Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 2019
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers picking olives in the village of Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus on October 2019

This week, the West Bank witnessed a wave of settler attacks and agricultural terrorism as Palestinian farmers began the year’s olive harvest. Attacks were mainly in northern villages near Nablus and Salfit, governorates with the largest concentration of illegal Israeli settlements.

Wafa news reported a settler attack on olive harvesters in Burin, a village south of Nablus, on 12 October, the same day as a 55-year-old Palestinian farmer was attacked by settlers in the nearby village of Tel. Two days prior, settlers stole olives from trees belonging to farmers also in the same area.

Armed settlers attacked farmers in the village Shufa, near the city Tulkarem in the north, who threatened to shoot farmers if they did not leave their land.’

The most devastating attack occurred on the morning of 16 October when two farmers, Abdul Muhaimen Assous and Nasser Qadous from Burin, went to harvest their trees alongside 11 international volunteers.

Nearly 20 masked settler youths descended into the fields from the nearby Yitzhar settlement, attacking three internationals and seriously injuring one – including an 80-year-old rabbi from the organisation Rabbis for Human Rights.

Before fleeing the scene, the group of settlers set fire to the field, destroying more than 1,300 trees in less than one hour.

According to Ghassan Najar, 29-year-old activist from Burin, his village lost 300 trees from settler violence just the week before. In total, over 3,500 Burin olive trees have been destroyed this year by settlers, more than any year prior.

“We’re talking about 20 families [who] have lost their olive trees, which were 30 to 60 years old,” Najar told MEMO regarding the most recent incident, adding that most villagers in Burin are farmers and depend on the annual harvest as a main portion of their income.

“You can say each tree makes 300 to 500 shekel [$84-141] in oil. Especially in this season, it was a perfect season,” he explained, noting this year was clearly more fruitful than last year’s dismal olive harvest.

Eye witness reports of this latest attack in Burin described the minimal intervention by Israeli occupation forces on the scene, who only assisted in putting out the fire when it was spreading closer to the nearby settlements.

“They are very organised between the army and the settlers. [The military] does what the settlers want,” Najar said, despite the Fourth Geneva Convention declaring the responsibility of an occupying power to protect all people living in occupied territory.

READ: Jewish settlers attack Palestinian farmers in West Bank 

According to B’Tselem spokesperson Amit Gilutz, the lack of law enforcement by the Israeli security forces is intentional as settler violence is seen as a privatised arm of the state. “We think of settler violence as violence that is promoting Israeli interests in the West Bank,” Gilutz explained, “which are to take over as much of the resources in the West Bank as possible and leave them in Israeli hands, transfer them to settlers, and to diminish the Palestinian presence in these areas.”

B’Tselem has monitored hundreds of incidents of settler violence over the years, witnessing Israeli security forces, “providing cover to settlers or not doing anything to stop them or even participating in the violence themselves.”

Gilutz could not provide a definitive trend in settler violence since the phenomenon is so wide spread and it is difficult to track every attack. But he could declare that attacks have been increasing over the past two-and-a-half years – a claim supported by a 2018 UNOCHA report.

Settler violence occurs throughout the West Bank at all times of the year in the forms of physical assaults on Palestinians, vandalising property as “price tag” attacks, or agricultural terrorism.

“In the harvest [there are] more attacks because the people are in the mountains usually every day and most of them are near the settlements,” said Najar. Most Palestinian agricultural land is located in Area C, under full Israeli military control. “This gives the settlers an excuse to attack for security reasons.”

READ: Israel settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ibrahim Mosque on Yom Kippur 

“Attacks take place throughout the year, but the harvest season is the time where most of the internationals come,” said Erika*, an international who has been living in Burin for over two years and has assisted in four olive harvests. She herself has been attacked by settlers before and requested her identity to be concealed due to security concerns.

“We use the internationals as a witness. This is our window into the world, to show the people what is happening here,” Najar explained, emphasising how Israeli settlers extremely dislike this tactic for this reason.

The day after Wednesday’s arson attack, Burin farmers and international allies went back out into the fields to work when local settlement security came down and asked the international volunteers to leave. When they refused, Israeli military arrived shortly declaring that the only way the Palestinian farmer could continue to work is if the volunteers left.

“An international presence here is important first and foremost because all the countries that we come from have a responsibility for what is going on here,” said Erika. From New York, she stated how her own country is one of the largest donors of military aid to Israel and directly contributes to the violence of the occupation.

“We have a responsibility to come and to witness and to go home and tell people what we see.”

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Palestine officials take steps to demarcate maritime borders

Israeli forces attack Palestinians during a protests against the Israeli blockade on Gaza Strip on 17 December 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Israeli forces attack Palestinians during a protests against the Israeli blockade on Gaza Strip on 17 December 2018

Palestinian officials are taking “legal and procedural steps” to demarcate the State of Palestine’s maritime borders, reported Al-Monitor.

On 8 October, Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki gave Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit “a legal file on the demarcation prepared by the Palestinian government”, a move described as part of “a series of actions taken by the Palestinian government in recent years in this direction”.

In 2015, Palestine “participated for the first time in the meeting of state signatories to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in New York”, while in June 2017, “a national team of experts was formed to work on demarcating the Palestinian maritime borders of the Mediterranean Sea”.

According to Al-Maliki, speaking at a press conference after presenting the file to the Arab League, the Palestinians have also presented maps and coordinates to the United Nations.

“We asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to circulate the maps and coordinates among the member states to help us in our efforts to set up the maritime borders, especially with regard to the exclusive economic zone, which the state of Palestine has the right to exploit and invest in”, he said.

READ: Israel to decrease electricity supplies to Palestinians 

Al-Monitor cited an unnamed official at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said that the purpose of depositing the documents with the UN and Arab League is to “introduce the world to the Palestinian maritime areas and to provide evidence that Israel is violating these areas”.

There is a focus on Palestinian natural resources located in the Gaza Strip’s waters. The official noted how “Israel for years has been using many of the gas fields in Palestinian waters while restricting Palestinians from extracting gas from the Gaza Marine 1 gas field, which was discovered in 1998”.

The PA “awarded an exclusive contract to British Gas Co. and Palestinian Consolidated Contractors Co. (CCC) to explore for natural gas in Gaza Strip waters”, and the two companies discovered two gas fields “off the shore of the strip” and “on the common border with Israel”.

Mohammad Awartani, director of the Natural Resources and Gas Fields Unit of the Massader for Natural Resources and Infrastructure Development Co. in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor “that the PA’s demarcation submissions to the UN and the Arab League will result in investments in the Palestinian territories, particularly in gas exploration”.

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Gaza: Poverty and unemployment rates at 75%

A Palestinian child can be seen outside her home in the poverty-stricken quarter of Al-Zaytoon in Gaza City on 29 September 2014 [Ezz Zanoun/Apaimages]

A Palestinian child can be seen outside her home in the poverty-stricken quarter of Al-Zaytoon in Gaza City on 29 September 2014

The Ministry of Social Development in the Gaza Strip said yesterday that the rates of poverty and unemployment in the Gaza Strip reached nearly 75 per cent in 2019.

In a press release it added that 70 per cent of the population of the Gaza Strip is food insecure. This, it continued, was a result of “the aggressive Israeli practices increased since the Second Intifada, which broke out in 2000, and depriving thousands of Palestinians of their jobs.”

As a result, the Palestinian economy could not “create new jobs to accommodate those untrained workers.”

“The Israeli blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip since 2006, restricting the movement of citizens and goods, in addition to three wars in 200820122014, and the division of Palestinian forces created a complex and difficult political, economic and social reality.”

READ: Israel to decrease electricity supplies to Palestinians 

It said that poverty indicators in Gaza “are the highest in the world, and that efforts by governmental, international and local institutions are predominantly categorised as relief activities, meeting only about 50 per cent of the basic needs of poor families.”

The ministry called for “guaranteeing humanitarian work independence away from political tensions, and improve the living standards of the people of the Gaza Strip by opening the border crossings and allowing citizens and goods to move freely.”

It also demanded “strengthening coordination between social institutions working in the Gaza Strip … in order to secure decent living conditions for the poor; in addition to increasing humanitarian and relief assistance to the Palestinian people through international and regional institutions.”

For 13 years, Israel has imposed a tight siege on Gaza, which resulted in a dramatic increase in poverty and unemployment rates.

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Gaza farmers call on UN to help sell their produce in West Bank

“I keep one eye on my wheat harvest on my farm land, while another on any sudden Israeli leveling operations by military tractor,” Abdullah Attar, wheat farmer, Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

“I keep one eye on my wheat harvest on my farm land, while another on any sudden Israeli leveling operations by military tractor,” Abdullah Attar, wheat farmer, Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip yesterday called on a UN organisation to put pressure on Israel to allow their agricultural products to be marketed in the occupied West Bank.

This came during a sit-in organised by farmers in front of the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Gaza City.

During the pause, farmers carried banners denouncing the Israeli blockade, calling for urgent intervention by international and local organisations that are working to attain farmers’ rights to help them market their produce in the West Bank.

The Director of the Agricultural Cooperative Association, Mohamed Ghaben, toldthe Anadolu Agency that the farmers were taking action as a result of the hardships they have endured as a result of the continued Israeli siege and to demand that their products be sold in the West Bank.

READ: Jewish settlers attack Palestinian farmers in West Bank

He continued: “Israel does not allow our products to be marketed in the local Palestinian market [in the West Bank]. It, in addition, bans the marketing of our products in Israeli markets, while Israeli goods are marketed in our markets.”

Ghaben pointed out that more than 15,000 tonnes of vegetables such as potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes, stacked in refrigerators as they are surplus to the needs of Gaza’s market.

“Next month, new batches of these vegetables will be picked, and if the situation continues, the farms will suffer very heavy losses,” he said.

He pointed out that the deterioration of the economic situation in Gaza – due to the Israeli blockade – has weakened the citizens’ purchase ability leading to greater food surpluses.

“In addition, the farmer, in case of loss, will be forced to lay off workers on his farm, which leads to an increase in the unemployed rate and poverty,” he said.

Late last month, a Palestinian rights group said 85 per cent of the population of Gaza lives below the poverty line due to the Israeli blockade.

READ: Floating new ideas for animal feed in Gaza

(Source / 18.10.2019)

Israeli Troops Abduct Journalist & Civilian from Jenin

The Israeli occupation forces conducted night raids on Friday morning before dawn, abducting two young men from Jenin and raiding several houses.

According to local sources, Israeli forces abducted the editor Fuad Aghbarieh, as well as the civilian Marwan Hashash, after storming the city of Jenin and raiding their homes while they were asleep in their beds.

In addition to abducting Fuad from his home, they ordered the journalist to hand over his son Majdi within 74 hours.

The abductions came after the soldiers wreaked havoc and shattered the doors of the houses amid the firing of sound bombs inside.

Earlier that night, Israeli forces raided a wedding party in the town of Sur Baher, southeast of occupied Jerusalem.

Local sources told the Palestinian Wafa News Agency that the Israeli occupation forces stormed the ceremony, and deliberately terrorized the participants, amid skirmishes with the residents.

Also Friday morning before dawn, Israeli forces closed the Ramallah-Nablus Street to secure a marathon for settlers.

The Israeli army announced Thursday that the closure would continue from five in the morning until 12:30 pm, in order to allow a marathon run by illegal Israeli settlers from the junction of the village of Turmus’aya to the junction of Zaatara village.

According to the Wafa correspondent that the occupation forces closed the main entrance of Salfit (in the northern West Bank) and prevented citizens from using the main roads to secure the marathon settlers.

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Hunger Striking Detainee Slapped With A New Administrative Detention Order

The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee has reported, Thursday, that an Israeli court has approved the arbitrary Administrative Detention order against a hunger-striking detainee, for an additional six months, without charges.

The Committee stated that the detainee, Mo’ab Tawfiq al-Hindi, 29, from Tal village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, is ongoing with a hunger strike he started 24 days ago, protesting being held under Administrative Detention orders.

The detainee is currently held in Ohali Kidar Israel prison, after he was frequently moved to various detention centers since he started the strike, and will likely be transferred again.

It is worth mentioning that al-Hindi was abducted on September 4, 2019, and is a former political prisoner, who was frequently abducted and detained by Israel, and went on hunger strike 35 days, before an agreement was reached for his release.

However, the army abducted him once again, and slapped him with a new Administrative detention order.

In related news, the Committee stated that the Israeli High Court is scheduled to hold hearings regarding the cases of several hunger-striking detainees.

Female Hunger Striker Reveals Details of Torture in Israeli Prison System

Six Palestinian Prisoners Continue Long-Term Hunger Strike

Detainee On Hunger Strike For 82nd Day Suffers Serious Health Condition

Hunger Striking Detainee Receives A New Administrative Detention Order

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Settlers attacked me for helping Palestinians, 80-year-old rabbi says

Israeli army spokesperson recognised that Jewish settlers carried out the attacks, but the Israeli authorities have never punished the settlers for such repeated aggressions

Extremist Jewish settlers physically assaulted Rabbis for Human Rights activists this week near Palestinian village of Burin in northern West Bank, the human rights organisation said.

The activists said they had arrived at the village to assist Palestinian farmers to harvest their olive trees and that Jewish settlers attacked them with iron polls, hurled stones at them and set the olive groves on fire.

The Israeli army confirmed that altercations took place in the village, and that the fire that broke out there was caused by arson, claiming that one of the settlers was arrested.

A spokesperson of the Israeli occupation army said one of the settlers came from the direction of the illegal settlement of Yitzhar, and that a Golani brigade force was called to the scene.

Moshe Yehudai, an 80-year-old rabbi member on the Rabbis for Human Rights executive board, sustained wounds to his head and legs.

He was transferred to the Israeli Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava. Israeli police crews and paramedics were also called to the scene, while other volunteers were evacuated from the area.

Vandalism

On Wednesday, six Palestinian cars were found vandalised by Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank Palestinian village of Deir Ammar northwest of Ramallah.

In addition to having their tires punctured, cars were spray-painted with Israeli star and hate slogans in Hebrew including the phrase “when brothers are murdered, our duty is not to forget.” The Israel Police are allegedly investigating.

Last week there was a similar vandalism incident carried out by extremist Jewish settlers on cars and the walls of homes in the Palestinian village of Qira, further to the north in the West Bank near Ariel.

In that incident, video footage shows several masked Jewish settlers entering the village and puncturing the tires of 13 Palestinian cars.

The settlers also spray-painted a wall in Hebrew with the slogan “There is no place in the country for the enemy” as well as another one almost identical to the one in Deir Amar, stating “When they harm Jews, our duty is not to forget.”

The head of the local council for Qira, Aisha Nimr, said “this indicates a dangerous escalation on part of the settlers.”

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Israel is driving Palestinians from their historic lands

Thousands have been driven out of their homes because their numbers pose a major demographic threat to Israel

By Jonathan Cook 

The decades-long struggle by tens of thousands of Arabs against being uprooted from their homes – some for the second or third time – should be proof enough that Israel is not the western-style liberal democracy it claims to be.

Last week 36,000 Bedouin – all of them Palestinians (referred to as Israeli Arab citizens since 1948) – discovered that their state is about to make them refugees in their own country, driving them into holding camps. These Israelis, it seems, are the wrong kind.

Their treatment has painful echoes of the past. In 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by the Israeli army outside the borders of the newly declared Jewish state established on their homeland – what the Palestinians call their Nakba, or catastrophe.

Israel is regularly criticised for its belligerent occupation, its relentless expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land and its repeated and savage military attacks, especially on Gaza.

On rare occasions, analysts also notice Israel’s systematic discrimination against the 1.8 million Palestinians whose ancestors survived the Nakba and live inside Israel, ostensibly as citizens.

Zionism

But each of these abuses is dealt with in isolation, as though unrelated, rather than as different facets of an overarching project. A pattern is discernible, one driven by an ideology that dehumanises Palestinians everywhere Israel encounters them.

That ideology has a name. Zionism provides the thread that connects the past – the Nakba – with Israel’s current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the destruction of Gaza, and the state’s concerted efforts to drive Palestinian citizens of Israel out of what is left of their historic lands and into ghettoes.

The logic of Zionism, even if its more naive supporters fail to grasp it, is to replace Palestinians with Jews – what Israel officially terms Judaisation.

The Palestinians’ suffering is not some unfortunate side effect of conflict. It is the very aim of Zionism: to incentivise Palestinians still in place to leave “voluntarily”, to escape further suffocation and misery.

The starkest example of this people replacement strategy is Israel’s long-standing treatment of 250,000 Bedouin who formally have citizenship.

The Bedouin are the poorest group in Israel, living in isolated communities mainly in the vast, semi-arid area of the Negev, the country’s south. Largely out of view, Israel has had a relatively free hand in its efforts to “replace” them.

That was why, for a decade after it had supposedly finished its 1948 ethnic cleansing operations and won recognition in western capitals, Israel continued secretly expelling thousands of Bedouin outside its borders, despite their claim on citizenship.

Meanwhile, other Bedouin in Israel were forced off their ancestral lands to be driven either into confined holding areas or state-planned townships that became the most deprived communities in Israel.

Jewish demographic dominance

It is hard to cast the Bedouin, simple farmers and pastoralists, as a security threat, as was done with the Palestinians under occupation.

But Israel has a much broader definition of security than simple physical safety. Its security is premised on the maintenance of an absolute demographic dominance by Jews.

The Bedouin may be peaceable but their numbers pose a major demographic threat and their pastoral way of life obstructs the fate intended for them – penning them up tightly inside ghettoes.

Most of the Bedouin have title deeds to their lands that long predate Israel’s creation. But Israel has refused to honour these claims and many tens of thousands have been criminalised by the state, their villages denied legal recognition.

For decades they have been forced to live in tin shacks or tents because the authorities refuse to approve proper homes and they are denied public services like schools, water and electricity.

The Bedouin have one option if they wish to live within the law: they must abandon their ancestral lands and their way of life to relocate to one of the poor townships.

Many of the Bedouin have resisted, clinging on to their historic lands despite the dire conditions imposed on them.

Al Araqib

One such unrecognised village, Al Araqib, has been used to set an example. Israeli forces have demolished the makeshift homes there more than 160 times in less than a decade.

In August, an Israeli court approved the state billing six of the villagers $370,000 for the repeated evictions.

Al Araqib’s 70-year-old leader, Sheikh Sayah Abu Madhim, recently spent months in jail after his conviction for trespassing, even though his tent is a stone’s throw from the cemetery where his ancestors are buried.

Now the Israel authorities are losing patience with the Bedouin.

Largest displacement in decades

Last January, plans were unveiled for the urgent and forcible eviction of nearly 40,000 Bedouin from their homes in unrecognised villages under the guise of “economic development” projects. It will be the largest expulsion in decades.

“Development”, like “security”, has a different connotation in Israel. It really means Jewish development, or Judaisation – not development for Palestinians.

The projects include a new highway, a high-voltage power line, a weapons testing facility, a military live-fire zone and a phosphate mine.

It was revealed last week that the families would be forced into displacement centres in the townships, living in temporary accommodation for years as their ultimate fate is decided. Already these sites are being compared to the refugee camps established for Palestinians in the wake of the Nakba.

The barely concealed aim is to impose on the Bedouin such awful conditions that they will eventually agree to be confined for good in the townships on Israel’s terms.

Six leading United Nations human rights experts sent a letter to Israel in the summer protesting the grave violations of the Bedouin families’ rights in international law and arguing that alternative approaches were possible.

Adalah, a legal group for Palestinians in Israel, notes that Israel has been forcibly evicting the Bedouin over seven decades, treating them not as human beings but as pawns in its never-ending battle to replace them with Jewish settlers.

The Bedouin’s living space has endlessly shrunk and their way of life has been crushed.

This contrasts starkly with the rapid expansion of Jewish towns and single-family farming ranches on the land from which the Bedouin are being evicted.

It is hard not to conclude that what is taking place is an administrative version of the ethnic cleansing Israeli officials conduct more flagrantly in the occupied territories on so-called security grounds.

These interminable expulsions look less like a necessary, considered policy and more like an ugly, ideological nervous tic.

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

Israeli Forces Kidnap 4 Palestinians In West Bank

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Friday kidnapped four Palestinian citizens during home raids in the West Bank.

Local sources said that the IOF arrested four Palestinians, including an ex-prisoner, after raiding their homes in different areas in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The IOF further installed makeshift barriers at the entrances of several West Bank villages and searched homes.

(Source / 18.10.2019) 

IOF Storms Palestinian Wedding, Assaults Citizens

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday evening stormed a Palestinian wedding in Sur Baher town, east of Jerusalem, and attacked the Palestinian families who were attending the party.

Local sources said that a number of youths were injured after the IOF violently stormed the place, terrorized the guests and clashed with them.

The IOF on almost a daily basis attacks the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Jerusalem and targets them with arbitrary arrest campaigns.

(Source / 18.10.2019)