Violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank has increased dramatically over the past two years, while Israeli officials continue to cover them up, Haaretz reported on Sunday.
Israeli journalist Yaniv Kubovich reported that the first half of 2021 witnessed 416 anti-Palestinian incidents, pointing out that this is almost equal to the figure from all of 2020 (507 incidents) and is higher than 2019 (363 incidents).
An Israeli army official said that the change of approach has been particularly noticeable in the Central Command of the Israeli army, which oversee the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
Haaretz said, in an effort to avoid confrontations between the Israeli military and settlers, the army adopted the approach of permitting settlers to “let off steam”.
Silence by policymakers is being interpreted as support for the settlers, Israeli journalist Hagar Shezav, wrote in Haaretz.
Last week, the European Parliament approved an amendment to block €20 million ($23 million) in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) if immediate changes promoting “coexistence and tolerance” with the Israeli occupation are not made to Palestinian school textbooks.
According to the amendment, the Palestinian curricula must promote peace with the Israeli occupation based on the two-state solution, which the EU still claims is the best and only way to solve Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise. The EU also wanted the Palestinian curricula to be purged from alleged hate speech against Israel.
But what has the EU done to prevent hate speech uttered by Israeli officials against Palestinians? What has the EU, which protects the Israeli occupation and forges strategic partnerships with it, done to protect the Palestinians who have endured more than 70 years of Israeli violations and aggression?
Going back to the recent past we see that the EU did not demand Israel to stop striking Palestinian civilians in Gaza in May at the time when the occupation army killed more than 200 Palestinian civilians, including more than 60 children, and injured more than 1,500 others over a period of 11 days.
The EU, instead, condemned the Palestinian resistance which fought back against the continuous and barbaric Israeli bombardment of mostly civilian facilities and homes. “We condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups on the Israeli territory. And we fully support Israel’s right to self-defense,” EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said.
Here the EU declared its full support for the kind of “self-defense” which targets children, unarmed women and the elderly, as well as civil infrastructure.
The EU has done little to keep the two-state solution as a viable option, but is keeping it going “at the level of rhetoric” only, the Centre for European Reform’s Beth Oppenheim has said.
The Israeli occupation state is not interested in the two-state solution and has been doing its best to make it unviable through the continuous expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements. The UN Security Council has branded Israeli settlements as illegal and as violations of the Geneva Conventions, but the EU has done nothing to force these actions to cease.
All the while, the occupation has imposed a stifling air, ground and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, making life almost unlivable. Palestinians live with insufficient electricity, severe lack of medical equipment, shortages in medication, limited access to clean water, strict restrictions on their movement in and from the besieged enclave and the inability of those in need of urgent medical care to access it abroad or in the occupied West Bank.
“Israel’s policy of de facto annexation in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza violate international law,” Oppenheim said. But the Israeli “prime minister nurtured relationships with illiberal, nativist governments in Europe, sowing division in the EU and paralysing its decision-making on Israel-Palestine,” she added.
Despite the death of the peace process and the prospects of the two-state solution, “bilateral relationship between Israel and the EU has continued to deepen without conditions… They have signed over a dozen bilateral agreements to supplement the overarching Association Agreement in areas including police co-operation (2018), development (2018), aviation (2013), agriculture (2012) and industry (2010). Israel participates in EU research and innovation programmes, and Israeli students can take part in the educational exchange programme Erasmus+.”
“The EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, comprising a third of Israel’s total exports, and Israel was the EU’s 27th most important partner in 2018.” This proves that the issue is not related to hate speech or promoting the peace process, but is one based on shared interests and benefits.
The EU is able to take punitive measures that would force Israel to stop its crimes and human rights violations, but it does not have the political will to put real pressure on Israel. In 2014, “the EU agreed swiftly to impose hefty economic sanctions targeting Russia’s financial, energy and defence sectors when Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine – land that Russia still holds,” a special report by Reuters says. Thus, if the EU has the will to take real action, it can do so without hesitation.
Many analysts and critics believe that the EU member states can make difference regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Countries which support taking action against Israeli crimes and violations of international law should unite and mobilise against the violations. They should also recognise the State of Palestine.
When it comes to Israeli crimes against Palestinians, the only words the EU has is “concerned” and “worried”, while stressing the occupation state’s “right to self-defense”. Where the acts of the legitimate – under international law – Palestinian resistance is concerned, the EU chooses “terrorists”, “aggression” and “attacks”. The bloc continues to defend the Israeli occupation in international forums.
Andrea Dessì from Social Europe, a Rome-based think tank, wrote: “When coupled with the legal and diplomatic cover for Israel provided by Europe and the US in international fora, such policies amount to complicity in Israel’s policy of creeping annexation and settler-colonial violence against the Palestinians.”
All of this and many other situations prove that the EU is not only complicit, but shamefully involved in the violations and crimes against Palestinians. The EU, if it is serious about its support for peace, must leverage its strength to do so, but the decades of silence and support for bias US policies prove that is not it’s primary aim.
On 1 October 2021, Al-Haq and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) sent letters to State Representatives calling on them to intervene to prevent Ms. Odeh’s unlawful detention and mistreatment and urging their attendance at Ms. Odeh’s next legal hearing on 4 October 2021, in order to ensure fair standards of legal proceedings.
Ms. Shatha Odeh Abu Fannouneh, 60 and mother of three, a human rights defender and the Director of the Health Work Committees (HWC), was forcibly and arbitrarily arrested at her house in Ramallah by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) on 7 July 2021, at around 2:00 am. She was then forcibly taken to Ofer Israeli Military Camp in Ramallah, where a nine-hour interrogation ensued on the day of her arrival. Next, Ms. Odeh was moved to Hasharon Prison, located outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in violation of international humanitarian law. Since 27 July, Ms. Odeh has been held in Damoun Female Prison in Haifa.
The forced and arbitrary arrestation and detention of Ms. Odeh constitutes breaches of several Israel’s obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law, notably the prisoners’ right to remain in the occupied territory during all stages of detention (Article 76 Fourth Geneva Convention related to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) and the prohibition of forcible transfer of civilians (Article 49 Fourth Geneva Convention). Holding Ms. Odeh in Israeli prisons outside of the OPT both infringes on her right to maintain contact with family and defense counsel, as heavy restrictions on Palestinians’ free movement imposed by Israeli authorities preclude the ability of her family to visit, and constitutes forcible transfer of civilians.
The conditions of detention of Ms. Odeh also amount to violations of the Occupying Power’s obligations to provide adequate medical care (Article 76 Fourth Geneva Convention) and Ms. Odeh’s right to human dignity. Indeed, Ms. Odeh was denied access to emergency medication for the first eight days of her detention and has been subjected to degrading and inhumane conditions of detention which induced her to lose 9 kilograms of weight thus far. Finally, the continuous unjustifiable detention of Ms. Odeh without knowledge of the charges levelled against her is a violation of her right to a fair trial and due process, protected by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In light of the above, Al-Haq and Addameer urged the state representatives to:
i. Call on the Occupying Power, Israel, to immediately release Palestinian detainee Ms. Odeh, whose health is compromised, and guarantee her right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrests and detention;
ii. Call for your attendance at the next legal hearing on 4 October 2021, at 2 pm at the Offer Military Camp, in order to ensure fair standards of legal proceedings;_
iii. Call on Israel to put an end to the systematic and ongoing practice of targeting of Palestinian civil society organizations, including the HWC and intimidating Palestinian human rights defenders, including Ms. Odeh, contrary to international law;
iv. Call for the return of Ms. Odeh’s property, including her mobile phone and car, unlawfully, confiscated without a requisition order and in the absence of the requisite ‘military need’ or ‘military operations’ provided for under Articles 52 and 53 of the Hague Regulations (1907); and
v. To condemn and call on Israel to end its inhumane practices of prolonged drives and transfers of prisoners between prisons, in confined spaces for hours in conditions causing ‘intense suffering’.
Israel soldiers abducted, Sunday, three teenage boys south Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported.
The head of the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya Village Council, Yacoub Oweis, stated that several army jeeps invaded the town before the soldiers chased searched several schoolchildren while walking back home from school.
He added that the soldiers abducted Omar Adnan, Rateb Bashar, and Ahmad Abdul-Nasser.
In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers attacked several Palestinians in the Wadi ar-Rababa neighborhood, in Silwan town, wounding one, identified as Ahmad Somrain, who suffered various cuts and bruises.
The attack came when the Palestinians tried to stop the soldiers, police, and workers of the City council, who were bulldozing their lands to annex them and use them for illegal colonialist activities.
Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, six Palestinians, including several siblings, in Nablus and Hebron, in the occupied West Bank.
In Nablus, in northern West Bank, undercover Israeli soldiers infiltrated Balata refugee camp and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Sami Abu Hamada, after breaking into his home and ransacking it.
It is worth mentioning that Abu Hamada is a former political prisoner who was held by Israel for fourteen years and was released in the year 2018.
In addition, several army jeeps invaded the al-Quds Street area, in the eastern part of Nablus city, before breaking into and searching homes, and abducted three siblings, identified as Ibrahim, Ala’, and Khail Abu Awad.
Also, the soldiers abducted two siblings, identified as Othman Abu Qbeita, 37, and his brother Abbas, 34, when they intercepted several colonialist settlers who invaded their lands and attacked several Palestinians in the Lasefer village, in Masafer Yatta, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. (Read more about the attack)
The village is completely isolated by the illegal Annexation Wall, which also led to the annexation of the villagers’ lands; the Palestinians in the village also cannot leave without crossing a military roadblock in a section of the Wall.
The villagers are subject to frequent assaults and violations by the colonizers who also constantly attack the shepherds and prevent them from entering grazing areas.
In addition, the soldiers abducted three teenage boys south Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
While Israel continues to build and expand its illegal colonies, Palestinian communities and towns, in occupied Jerusalem, and various areas in the occupied West Bank, continue to be denied the right to build or expand homes and property.
Israel has been issuing hundreds of demolition orders against existing Palestinian homes and property, including under-construction structures, and has already demolished many of them.
According to data by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), demolished 865 structures, displacing 1,014 people, and directly affecting 5,615 people. In addition to demolishing 2,586 buildings in the Negev, in the year 2020.
Israeli soldiers placed, Sunday, large rocks to close a road near Ya’bad town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and installed a roadblock on a nearby road before stopping cars and interrogating the Palestinians.
Media sources said the soldiers, accompanied by bulldozers, invaded an area near the Emreiha area, south of Ya’bad town, and installed the rocks to close a minor road leading to large areas of Palestinian lands and various surrounding areas.
They added that the soldiers forced the Palestinians to leave the area, after alleging it is now a closed zone, without providing any explanation.
Amjad Atatra, a member of Ya’bad Village Council, told Palestine TV that the closed road is essential because it links between various villages and towns, and also leads to Tulkarem.
He added that the closed road also isolated 6000 Dunams of Palestinian olive orchards in the Emreiha area.
Atatra also said that the soldiers previously prevented the Town Council from rehabilitating and expanding the main road in Ya’bad.
The closure of the road also forced schoolchildren to climb the rocks just to be able to return home from school.
The soldiers also installed a roadblock on the Kafrit-Ya’bad junction, leading to the Dothan military roadblock, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated the Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
It is worth mentioning that Ya’bad is surrounded by six illegal Israeli colonies that were built on stolen Palestinian lands, and the army constantly invades the town and bulldozes lands, in addition to the currently ongoing work to expand one of the colonies.
Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Palestinian olive orchards near Kafrit, and searched them, while many army jeeps also invaded areas near Marka and Nazlet Zeid villages.
Ya’bad and surrounding areas have been subject to constant invasions and violations, including violent searches of homes, the bulldozing and uprooting of lands, and the demolition of property, in addition to the installation of various military roadblocks.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed that the Palestinian detainees in all Israeli prisons, detention centers, and interrogation facilities, will start gradual measures to protest the escalating violations against them.
The PPS said that the detainees are protesting the serious restrictions and punitive measures imposed on them, especially on Islamic Jihad members, despite lengthy talks with the Israeli Prison Authority to improve their conditions and remove the punitive measures.
It added that the detainees will first start refusing to stand in line to be counted, and will close the sections they are held in, in addition to refusing to wear the uniforms given to them by the “Shabas” (the Israeli state agency responsible for the prisons).
Some detainees also intend to refuse to return to their rooms after they are allowed into the prison yards.
The PPS said that the measures will likely continue to escalate, especially if the Israeli soldiers attack the detainees, and the Prison Administration continues to reject their basic, legitimate demands, including the removal of the dozens of detainees from solitary confinement.
It is worth mentioning that, after six detainees were able to escape the Gilboa’ heavily fortified high-security Israeli prison, on September 6th, before they were recaptured, the Israeli Prison Authority started a series of escalating measures against all detainees, including assaults, violent searches and denying their the right to visit with their families and dozens are also not allowed to even visit with their lawyers.
The detainees said their protest measures will continue to escalate, and will likely lead to a massive hunger strike in all prisons, detention centers, and interrogation facilities, if the severe restrictions and escalating violations are not stopped, and if the Prison Authority continues to ignore their basic demands and continues to disregard their basic, internationally guaranteed rights.
Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, three Palestinians, including a former political prisoner, in Ramallah and Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.
Media sources said several army jeeps invaded the at-Tira neighborhood in the central West Bank governorate of Ramallah, searched homes, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Omar Barghouthi, 21.
The sources added that the invasion led to protests before the soldiers fired gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets; there have been no reports of injuries.
In addition, the soldiers invaded Ein Qiniya village, northwest of Ramallah, and searched a few homes.
In Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem in the West Bank, the soldiers abducted Qussai Raed al-‘Arouj, from his home in the al-‘Arouj village, and Ibrahim Mohammad Jubran, 29, from his home in Hindaza Mountain, east of the city.