Mon 18 Sep 2023 3:41 pm - Jerusalem Time

"B'Tselem": Israel carries out "transfer" in several communities in the West Bank

The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem said, "For years, Israel has been taking a series of measures to make the lives of dozens of Palestinian communities across the West Bank miserable and bitter, with the aim of forcing their residents to leave their places of residence, to achieve its ambition to seize land."

B'Tselem added in a report on Monday, "For this purpose, Israel prevents the residents of these communities from building homes, buildings for livestock, or public facilities, from connecting their residential sites to the water and electricity networks, and from paving roads, and is quick to threaten them with the demolition of their homes and buildings." In some cases, they demolish what they built despite everything.”

The report of the Israeli organization spoke about the acts of violence carried out by settlers, which the Israeli government uses as a tool to make the lives of the residents of the communities more miserable. These actions have greatly worsened since the current government came to power, and in some places these acts of violence have turned the lives of the residents of the communities into a nightmare. On a daily basis, to the point that they were deprived of any possibility to live in dignity, even at a minimum.

She confirmed that because of this violence, residents began to live in terror to the point that they felt fear for their lives. Then they realized that there was no one to protect them, and that they were left with no other option, so some of them were forced to leave their homes and places of residence and move to safer places, in the absence of any other alternative.

The report indicated that dozens of communities distributed throughout the West Bank live in a similar reality, and if Israel continues this policy, the residents of these communities will also be subject to deportation. In this way, Israel achieves its goal and seizes their lands.

Background of displacement

Dozens of herding communities live throughout the West Bank, all of which are considered in Israel’s eyes to be “unrecognized villages.” They are not connected to the electricity, water, and road infrastructure, and Israel prevents them from doing so.

The report indicates that Israel considers the homes of the residents of these communities, the public facilities, and the sheep pens they built “illegal” and is issuing demolition orders against them.

It indicated that a number of settlement outposts and farms were established around these gatherings with the help of the Israeli government, and acts of violence against the residents of the gatherings increased, until they reached their peak during the term of the current government, and turned into a frightening and daily routine that includes expelling shepherds from pastures and farmers from the fields they own, and including Physical assault on residents, breaking into their homes, setting fires, destroying crops, thefts and blocking roads.

Residents reported that the settlers were opening the valves of their water tanks and bringing their flocks of sheep to drink from the residents’ collection wells. The settlers began cultivating the agricultural lands that remained empty, while the soldiers protected them. In other places, settlers moved to graze their herds of livestock on pastures that were used by Palestinian shepherds.

B'Tselem confirmed that the current Israeli government has a hand in all of this happening, by imposing restrictions on construction, demolishing homes, and using settler violence in order to seize Palestinian lands, and gives full legitimacy to acts of violence against Palestinians, by encouraging and supporting them with public statements, and there are members The government themselves led the acts of violence. They are the ones who decide policy, they are the ones who allocate the budgets that finance the violence, and they are the ones responsible for enforcing the law on settlers who attack Palestinians.

Communities that were displaced

She indicated that during the past two years, residents of six communities in the West Bank were displaced from their homes, and in the area east and north-east of Ramallah, four herding communities were forcibly displaced, some of whom were living on lands belonging to Palestinians living in the area and with their consent, after being expelled from other places. Several settlement outposts and farms were established around them, with assistance from the government, the first of which was “Micah’s Farm” in 2018. Similar to other settlement outposts in the rest of the West Bank, these outposts are also connected to the water and electricity infrastructure and the road network, almost immediately. It enjoys immunity from demolitions and its residents work in full coordination and cooperation with the army, which provides them with protection.

She pointed out that some of these settlement outposts were established on lands that Israel defines as “firing zones,” which are areas where settlements are officially prohibited, but the government supported their establishment there nonetheless.

She explained that the four communities that were displaced were: Ras al-Tin last year, with a population of approximately 120 individuals - approximately half of whom are minors. The community was established in this place at the end of the sixties, and Israel had previously expelled them from the South Hebron Hills area. It was established on Private and regulated lands owned by residents of the villages of Kafr Malik and Al-Mughir.

The second community, Ain Samiya, is inhabited by 28 families, numbering about two hundred individuals. They had lived in it after renting its lands from residents of the village of Kafr Malek in 1980, after Israel expelled them from other places several times. The Al-Baqa community was demolished at the end of last July. 33 people were displaced, including 21 minors. The displacement was preceded by daily attacks by settlers who established a “farm” about fifty meters away from the community homes, installed solar panels, and connected them to the water infrastructure of the neighboring settlement outpost, “Neve Erez,” and took control of the road that connects Between the settlement and the main street.

The residents of the Qaboun community, which includes 12 families - 86 individuals, including 26 minors - were also displaced at the beginning of last August, and they have lived there since 1996 after Israel expelled them from the Negev in the early 1950s. In February of this year, settlers established a settlement outpost near the community. In an area that Israel defined as a “firing zone,” they abused the residents of the community, who reported that settlers were wandering around their homes, and even entering them, and that they would come on horses and tractors in the late hours of the night and intimidate them. Then they seized their agricultural lands and prevented them from grazing their sheep in the area. Pastures.

In the South Hebron Hills area, at least two communities were forcibly displaced: the first community was the Khirbet Simri community, inhabited by two brother families consisting of twenty people, eight of whom were minors. In 1998, the "Mitzpe Yair" settlement outpost was established on top of the hill on which they lived, and since then the violence against them has increased. The settlers abused the family members, threatened them, entered their homes, prevented them from grazing their sheep, and stormed their homes. In July last year, the residents decided to leave the place.

The second community is the Widadi al-Tahta community, which has a population of 20 people, including 12 minors, who have lived there for about fifty years. About two years ago, settlers established a settlement outpost approximately 500 meters away from the community homes. The settlers repeatedly tried to prevent residents from grazing their sheep in the pastures surrounding their homes. They used a quadcopter to terrorize and disperse the herd in the pasture. They entered at all hours of the day, armed. To the homes of residents - sometimes with a dog, and they would attack and beat the residents of the community and threaten them with weapons.

B'Tselem stressed that the decision of residents of the communities to leave their place of residence did not come out of nowhere, but rather is a direct result of Israeli policy, the goal of which has always been to achieve exactly this result: expelling Palestinians and reducing the areas on which they live, in order to transfer the land to Jewish hands. This policy is based There is a long series of restrictions, harassment, and abuse practices on the part of the state and its emissaries, with varying degrees of severity, some of which are official and some of which are unofficial.

She adds: Israel almost completely prohibits any construction or development work for Palestinians in Area C. This area constitutes about 60% of the area of the West Bank, and between 200 and 300 thousand Palestinians live there, thousands of whom are distributed among dozens of communities that earn their living from livestock grazing and agriculture. To prevent the Palestinians from building in this area, Israel has designated about 60% of Area C is considered to be areas in which Palestinians are prohibited from building, by establishing different legal definitions for large areas (sometimes overlapping with each other): “state lands” - about 35% of Area C, military training areas (firing zones). - About 30% of Area C, nature reserves and national parks - About 14% of Area C, or areas of influence belonging to settlements - About 16% of Area C. Israel is waging a continuous war against the Palestinians living in these areas. They are expelled from their lands under false pretexts, such as carrying out “military training,” and it also demolishes their homes and seizes their property.

As for the remaining 40% of the area of Area C, Israel - which exclusively controls planning systems in the West Bank - imposes severe restrictions on any construction or development therein, and the possibility of a Palestinian person obtaining a building permit - even when talking about building on land With its own ownership - the probability is zero, and between 2009 and 2018, only 98 building permits were approved for residential purposes, industrial purposes, agricultural purposes, and infrastructure services out of 4,422 applications that were submitted (i.e. 2%). According to data provided to the Bimkom organization, between 2016 and 2020, 2,550 applications were submitted and only 24 of them were approved (less than 1%). These data do not truly reflect the needs of Palestinians, as the majority of them do not find any benefit in the effort of submitting applications for building permits, because they know in advance that they will be rejected in any case.

Palestinians are forced to develop their towns and build their homes without building permits, and they do so not because they are violating the law, but because they do not have any ability to build legally. The Civil Administration issues demolition orders against them, and in some cases implements them. According to B'Tselem data, from 2006 until 7/31/23, Israel demolished 2,123 residential buildings throughout the West Bank. 8,580 people lost their homes, including 4,324 minors. Additionally, during the same period, Israel demolished 3,387 non-residential structures.

This is how the displacement began and this is how it continues

Israel works to make the lives of the residents of the communities living in the areas it covets miserable and bitter, until they say “enough” and leave their homes and lands, leaving everything behind. This policy is implemented in two parallel ways: In the first way - made by military orders, legal advisors and the Supreme Court - the state itself expels the Palestinians from their lands. The second method, parallel to the first, is that settlers commit violence against Palestinians, with state forces allowing, assisting, and even participating in this. This policy has led to the forced displacement of seven communities, but many other communities across the West Bank continue to live in this same violent reality and are currently at risk of immediate deportation.

This policy is illegal, and Israel is responsible for committing a war crime - forcible transfer. Under international law, which Israel must abide by and has pledged to abide by, it is prohibited - whatever the circumstances - from expelling residents of occupied territories from their homes. The fact that deportation is not carried out by soldiers coming to residents’ homes and expelling them from them themselves does not change the reality at all, as it is enough that Israel is creating an oppressive environment and leaving residents no other choice but to leave.

The deportation of the residents of the settlements is not a disaster brought upon them by nature, nor is it a fate they have no choice but to accept. Rather, it is a choice decided by the apartheid regime in order to achieve its ambition to maintain sovereignty over all the lands located between the river and the sea. Therefore, it is used to develop and expand existing settlements and to create new settlements for these areas. Population group only.


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"B'Tselem": Israel carries out "transfer" in several communities in the West Bank