Briefing Paper August 2012

Water Torture

Gideon Levy   Ha’aretz 08/07/2012

IDF confiscates water containers from Palestinians and Bedouins in Jordan Valley.

Avi is an inspection coordinator for the “Civil Administration” – the occupation regime, to speak without euphemisms. Presumably Avi likes his job. Maybe he’s even proud of it. He doesn’t bother mentioning his last name in the forms he signs. Why should he? His ornate “Avi” signature is sufficient to carry out his diktats. And Avi’s are among the most brutal and inhumane diktats ever to be imposed in these parts.

Avi confiscates water containers that serve hundreds of Palestinian and Bedouin families living in the Jordan Valley.

The containers are these people’s only water source. In recent weeks, Avi has confiscated about a dozen containers, leaving dozens of families with children in the horrific Jordan Valley heat, to go thirsty.

The forms he takes pains to complete, in spiffy style, say: “There is reason to suspect they used the above merchandise for carrying out an offense.” Avi’s bosses claim the “offense” is stealing water from a pipe. This is why the containers are seized – with no inquiry, no trial. Welcome to the land of lawlessness and evil. Welcome to the land of apartheid. Israel does not permit thousands of these wretched people to hook up to the water pipes. This water is for Jews only. Even the greatest Israeli propagandists could not deny the nationalist, diabolical separation taking place here.

The axis of evil is located about an hour’s drive from your home. But emotionally distant and far from the heart, it inspires no “social protest.” And on the scale of Israeli evil, it is one of the worst. Backed with forms and bureaucracy, applied by ostensibly nonviolent inspectors, it involves not a drop of blood, yet leaves no drop of water either. The Civil Administration is supposed to take care of the people’s needs. But it does not stop at the most despicable measure – depriving people and livestock of water in the scathing summer heat – to implement Israel’s strategic goal: to drive them from their lands and purge the valley of its non-Jewish residents.

The stealing of water, whether it did or didn’t take place, is of course only the excuse. Even if there was such a thing – what choice do these people have? The authorities won’t allow them to connect to the water pipe running through their fields; pipes whose water is flowing to saturate the settlers’ green vineyards and fields. Last week I saw the people whose water container Avi had confiscated, leaving them thirsty. Newborn babies, a handicapped little girl, a small boy post-surgery, women and old folks, and, of course, the sheep – the only source of income here. Denizens with no water – in Israel, not in Africa. Water for one nation only – in Israel, not in South Africa.

But this is not the only watershed. A few days ago, the Israel Defense Forces decided to hold training exercises in the area. What did it do? Evicted the residents from their homes for 24 hours. Not all of them – only the Palestinians and Bedouin. It occurred to nobody to evict the residents of Maskiot, Beka’ot or Ro’i. The authorities don’t call that apartheid, either.

Where did the IDF evict them to? Wherever the wind carries them. Thus some 400 people were forced to leave their huts and tents and spend a day and a night on the arid soil by the roadside, exposed to the elements.

Amjad Zahawa, a 2-day-old infant, passed his third day under the hot sun, with no shelter over his head. Greetings, Amjad; welcome to the reality of your life.

Avi, as we have already mentioned, loves his work and is proud of it. Dozens of others like him are also doing this contemptible work. But they are not the only ones at fault. Behind them stand millions of Israelis who are entirely untouched by all this. They blithely drive through the valley roads, paying no heed to the endless embankment alongside the road, imprisoning the residents and blocking their access to the road. There is an iron gate every now and then. The soldiers, representatives of the merciful occupier, show up every few days to open the gate for a moment. Sometimes they forget, sometimes they are late. Sometimes they lose the key, but what does it matter?

The occupation is enlightened, Israel is right, the IDF is the most moral army, and apartheid is merely an invention of Israel’s haters. Go to the Jordan Valley and see for yourselves.

Pack up your homes, people, the IDF needs to hold a drill

Gideon Levy Haaretz   6/07/12

When the army needs to hold drills with live fire, the Bedouin of the Jordan Valley have to vacate their tent encampments — Amjed Zahweh is 10 days old. Last week, Civil Administration inspectors demolished his family’s tent in the Jordan Valley. Now he’s lying in his iron crib, covered with a blanket and rags in the stifling heat. His family sprawls on the ground near him in the tent that was destroyed but was rebuilt again this week. With them are dozens of families that live without running water, without electricity, without minimal sanitary conditions. Across from their encampment are verdant settlements … In the Jordan Valley, which a majority of Israelis do not consider to be occupied land per se, there actually aren’t any fanatical settlers with long earlocks. Here we are dealing with moshavniks [members of Israeli collective agricultural villages]. From their zooming cars they can see a barrier of dirt dozens of kilometers long that Israel built in recent years, to imprison the Palestinian occupants of Ain al-Hilweh, thus preventing them from being able to reach the road easily … Some 450 families live in [head of the regional council Arif] Daraghmah’s district. Ain al-Hilweh is in the Hamam al-Maliah region, in the northern part of the valley. “Why don’t they do live fire exercises in the settlements too?” he asks.

In the first tent: Bissan is on the ground, her legs crooked and distorted, paralyzed from the waist down. This child, 7 years old, was also compelled to vacate her tent last week with her family, in honor of the IDF exercise. They received notice that they must be gone by 6 P.M. the following day, for 24 hours, with no recourse to appeal. She spent a day and a night last week as well, under the heavens at the side of the road. After he was ordered to do so, her father loaded her onto the tractor cart, along with the rest of the family, 13 children, and took them to their place of refuge on the side of the road until the exercise was over.

Israeli court orders the demolition of 29 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

MEMO 6/6/12

An Israeli court has issued a ruling which allows the municipal authorities in Occupied Jerusalem to destroy 29 Palestinian homes in the Silwan district of al-Bustan, south of the Aqsa Mosque. The demolition order includes the residence of the head of the Committee for the Defence of Silwan, Fakhri Abu-Thiab. Mr Thiab clarified that the court had given the Municipality the green light to go ahead with the demolition of the 29 homes after rejecting an intervention by the Jerusalemite residents demanding a postponement.

Israeli authorities raze Palestinian homes in the Negev

PIC 6/06/12

Ramallah – Israeli police and special forces went on a demolition spree in the Negev desert, south of Palestine occupied in 1948, on Wednesday at the pretext of unlicensed building. The joint forces razed a number of Palestinian homes in what Tel Aviv calls unrecognized villages. Witnesses said that the police forces tore down three houses in Tal Al-Saba after interior ministry staffers glued [issued?] orders for the demolition of ten houses in the village.

The police forces sealed off the vicinity of those houses to block citizens from approaching as huge bulldozer went on the demolition streak. Locals said that Israeli bulldozes then razed two houses in Um Ratam village and a shed in Hawra village.

Demolish your own home

Stop the Wall 6/06/12

This morning Israeli troops forced homeowners in the Jordan Valley to demolish their homes, having issued 24 demolition notices to four families. The forces did not wait the 24 hours, but evicted the families, who live in the north of the Valley. The head of the local council in Wadi Al Maleh Aref Daraghmeh, a Bedouin, said that the four families lived in the Al Mayte area of the Al Maleh valley were added to a long list of families who have been displaced or are under threat of displacement in the region … The situation in the Jordan Valley is critical as it is part of Area C, under full Israeli control, but it is seen as essential for the Palestinians. In addition to it constituting a third of the West Bank and it being the only point at which Palestinians can access the outside world, also contains around 47% of the ground water resources of Palestine, as well as housing some of the most fertile agricultural land in Palestine. Since agriculture is the backbone of Palestine’s economy and will continue to be in the future, access to this land is essential for continued Palestinian existence.

Israel PM plans hundreds of settler homes after vote

AFP 6/06/12

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that hundreds of new settler homes would be built in the West Bank after MPs rejected a bill to prevent the razing of buildings in one neighbourhood. Netanyahu had opposed the bill, which would have circumvented a Supreme Court ruling ordering the dismantling of five buildings in the Ulpana neighbourhood of Beit El — a wildcat settlement built on private Palestinian land — by legalising outposts. But he warned after the vote he would not allow people to “use the legal system to harm the settlement movement,” and announced plans to add 300 new homes to Beit El, near the city of Ramallah. “Beit El will be expanded. The 30 families will remain in Beit El, and 300 new families will join them,” he said in remarks relayed by public radio.

Dr Mads Gilbert in Gaza

Electronic Intifada 07/06/12

Question: What is the healthcare situation in the Gaza Strip like now?

MG: As a result of the Israeli siege, there has been widespread development of anaemia among children and women due to malnutrition as a result of siege and poverty. Stunting, where a child is more than two standard deviations shorter than what it should be, is sharply on the rise. In 2006, around 13.5 percent of children were stunted. In 2009, 31.4 percent under age two were stunted.

In other words, every third child is less developed than he or she should be. And stunting does not only affect growth. It also affects brain development and the ability to learn. This is a direct consequence of malnutrition. Remember, this is not caused by drought or natural disasters, but a deliberate, man-made lack of food and water, imposed, planned, and executed in the most detailed way by the Israeli government. They even calculate how many calories to let in to Gaza to avoid outright starvation but to “just” cause malnutrition since that goes under the radar of human rights abuses.

Similarly, water cleaning plants and pump stations for sewage cleaning and waste disposal are destroyed and haven’t been repaired because spare parts have not been let in due to the siege. Spare parts sit for up to two years on the border without being let in. Donated trucks from the UN and Japan for solid waste disposal are also being kept out.

Instead, 280 donkey cart drivers are commissioned to manually pick up the waste from the 600,000 inhabitants of Gaza City who should, of course, have a modern system. Plus, there is no fuel for the water pumping stations. The blackouts can last for 18 hours a day and the lack of fuel for running the water pump stations means that 50 percent of Gaza’s population receives water for only six to eight hours a day every fourth day.

So why won’t Israel let Palestinians have clean water and allow them to clean the wastewater? Why will they not allow them to collect their solid waste? Clearly Israel wants to make life as difficult as possible for the Palestinian community in order to break their resistance, to humiliate them, and to conquer them. It is not going to happen.

Jerusalemites protest the planting of fake Jewish graves around Al-Aqsa

PIC 28/05/2012

Hundreds of Jerusalemites organized a sit-in at Wadi Rababa neighborhood in Silwan to protest the planting of fake Jewish graves south of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

The occupation has planted during the last week fake graves around Al-Aqsa in order to take control of unused lands as a prelude to implement the so called Talmudic gardens plan.

The protesters demanded the removal of these fake graves and called for public and diplomatic moves to expose the Israeli occupation practices. The protesters explained that occupation’s bulldozers have removed the Islamic graves in Mamanullah cemetery in Jerusalem then planting fake Jewish graves in Wadi Rababa as a prelude to take over more than 36 dunums of strategic Palestinian lands there in the southern old city and Al-Aqsa mosque.

Protesters expressed anger at the deliberate falsification of the Arab-Islamic and Christian history of the city of Jerusalem, noting that Jerusalem municipality and the so called department of environment became tools to implement the extremist settler organization Elad’s goals.

Deputy Head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948-occupied lands Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib said that occupation authorities seek to steal the land’s history and the geography through convincing the world that this land particularly Jerusalem contains Jewish graves for hundreds of years. The occupation took by force the Palestinian lands in 1948 and 1967, and it is trying now to legitimize its presence through planting these fake graves to show that it is the land of Jews, Khatib told Quds Press on Monday. This land is a Palestinian Arab Muslim land which cannot accept under any circumstances this falsification, he added.

The Deputy of the Islamic movement pointed out to “the need to face this project through disclosing these crimes and this occupation project which depends on armed force in order to prove its presence, he added that what has been disclosed is enough to prove that these graves are fake and unreal. He said that fighting the occupation through law and media is not enough because the main problem is its presence. The Islamic nation has to combine its efforts to end this occupation, because if it continues, it will continue its aggression on the history, Geography and people.

1,456 Palestinian children shot dead by Israel since 2000


Palestinian children are still subjected to constant abuse and attacks by Israeli occupation forces and illegal Jewish settlers. Coinciding with International Children’s Day on 1 June, figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Information show that 1,456 Palestinian children have been shot dead by Israelis since the Aqsa Uprising started in late 2000. The ministry pointed out that all Palestinian children are still subjected to constant abuse and attacks by Israeli occupation forces and illegal Jewish settlers across the occupied Palestinian territories. Dozens have been arrested by Israel in a campaign of harassment in the occupied West Bank.

Children in Palestine make up 52 per cent of the population. As well as almost 1,500 being killed since 2000, around 5,000 children have been injured and 215 are being held in Israeli prisons; 175 have been arrested since the beginning of 2012. In 2010, around 1,000 Palestinian children aged between 15-17 were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces, 500 of them in occupied Jerusalem. Most of the charges brought revolved around accusations of “throwing stones” at illegal settlers’ vehicles.

The Ministry’s statistics also reveal that 65,000 Palestinian children aged between 5 and 14 are involved in some kind of work, paid and unpaid, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A Silwan Story: Palestinian Child Arrested, Abused by Israeli Authorities and Barred From Finishing 9th Grade

Moriel Rothman 31/05/2012

Someone is pounding on the door. It is 3:45 a.m. The pounding gets louder. The father goes to open the door, and immediately they enter: two men dressed in civilian clothes, flanked by police officers bearing heavy guns. They go straight towards the boy, who has pulled on a baggy sweatshirt and stepped out of his room, snake their hands under his arms, and take him. “He will only be gone for a few hours,” they say. “Don’t worry.” Outside the house, the boy’s hands are tied with plastic packaging bands and he is pushed into the police car. He does not understand much Hebrew, but he knows enough to understand the officer who leans close to him and whispers:

“Fuck your mother.”

30 days later, after being beaten with a chair, held in solitary confinement, taunted with a knife, forced to stay awake, and otherwise abused, the boy is released from prison. He now has trouble falling asleep at night, and when he does he often has nightmares which feature his interrogators. And his punishment continues: He is under house arrest, indefinitely, and is not allowed to go to school. He is afraid that he will miss the end of his 9th grade year.

Suhaib Alawar, 14 and a half years old, is from Silwan, an East Jerusalem village directly South of the Old City. Silwan is home to a large and largely poor Palestinian population that is gravely underserved by state and municipal bodies (There are about 50,000 people living in Silwan. There are a total of eight elementary schools. There are zero public playgrounds). It is also inhabited by a small-but-visible Jewish settler population supported by Israeli governmental funds and services. Houses and other structures in Silwan are built without permits, because Palestinians are virtually never granted building permits (for example, in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh, Silwan, pop. 5,000, there are under 20 recorded cases of permits being granted to Palestinians since 1967). There is sporadic violence from the Palestinians towards the settlers and police, mostly in the form of rock throwing youth, and heavy-handed responses from the police and army.

In all of these ways, Silwan is a microcosm of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian Territories writ large. There is one phenomenon, however, whose ubiquity sets Silwan apart from most places in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: child arrests.

In the middle of the night, on March 5th, 2012, Suhaib was arrested without warning, along with four other boys from Silwan. He had already been arrested twice before, the first time when just after his thirteenth birthday. Both times the police claimed that he was “throwing rocks.” 14 minors were arrested in Silwan in the month of March 2012 alone, according to Saleem Seam, a Palestinian activist from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, an organization that provides services and psychological care to youth in Silwan.

Suhaib was released from detention on April 5th but has remained under house arrest and is indefinitely barred from attending school. Last week, I went with Saleem to visit Suhaib and to hear his story. I am an Israeli, and I wondered about going to see someone who had recently suffered such serious abuse at the hands of other Israelis. I was greeted enthusiastically by Suhaib’s grandmother, who offered lemonade and coffee and brought me into the living room where Suhaib was waiting. He smiled hesitantly and held out his hand. I was mostly struck by how he looked: like a fourteen-year-old boy.

I asked him to tell me what happened.

Suhaib nodded, took a sip of lemonade, and began, the words spilling swiftly from his mouth. After the police stormed into his house and arrested him, along with the other boys, he was moved into the police car and then to a facility called Room 4. (Suhaib: “The interrogator asked me if I knew why it was called Room 4. I said I did not, and so he told me that it is called Room 4 because this is where you Arabs leave on all fours, crawling like a baby after we’ve finished with you”). There, the interrogators handcuffed Suhaib and hit his head, both with fists and with keys, calling him names and taunting him as their blows rained down. He was then made to sign a document in Hebrew stating that he had not been physically abused. Suhaib, who cannot read Hebrew, and signed the document.

According to Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem, the Israeli law known as the Youth Law mandates that a minor’s parents be present during any interrogation (this same law also forbids arresting children in the middle of the night and enacting violence against them while they are held). Suhaib told me that his father was not called in until 11:00 the next morning. When his father arrived, he was cautioned not to talk directly to his son. The investigation proceeded: they asked Suhaib a number of questions, all of which he declined to answer. Then, all the detectives left the room.

“I took the chance, and told my father that I had been beaten. I think that they were listening, because they came in right away and told my father to leave, and that the investigation was finished. I asked if I could go too, and they laughed. My father left, and the men started hitting me again, and saying that my mother is a whore. They left me in the room without food until midnight.”

Suhaib’s interrogation continued for the next ten days, during which he eventually found out he was accused of teaching other boys how to build Molotov Cocktails, which he denied. During these ten days, Suhaib was kept in a room that stank of feces and rotten food. He was hit with a chair and threatened with a knife. He was also told that if he did not admit he was guilty he would be “taken to an electric chair to help him.” On the fourth day, Suhaib was put into a police car along with another boy “to be taken to the electric chair.” The two exchanged some of their experiences and advised each other on what not to say. Video footage of this conversation was shown to him on the 10th day and was used as a confession. Suhaib continued to deny that he was guilty.

The detective extracted sentences from the conversation in the car, and forced Suhaib to sign the statement. After signing, Suhaib was held for twenty more days. During this period, he was moved into a cell with adults. “They were regular criminals, some of them were rapists and some were drug addicts, and they tried to beat me also.” He was then moved into cell of his own, where the floor was wet from a small toilet which was overflowing with excrement. Next, he was moved back with another one of the boys. There the guards prevented them from sleeping.

“Whenever we would fall asleep, they would start banging on the cell door and screaming ‘Wake up, boys! You’d better watch out for the rats!’ Or they would point laser pointers at ours eyes until we woke up.” During the whole time he was held, Suhaib was not allowed to see his family again, and the police allowed him to call his parents only twice. After 30 days, Suhaib was released, having lost over 20 pounds during his detention. He was sentenced to house arrest at his grandmother’s house and his family was required to post a deposit of 50,000 Shekels (about $15,000) in case he violated the conditions of his house arrest. One of those conditions was that Suhaib, who should be in 9th grade, was prevented from returning to school.

“I like studying history,” Suhaib told me, smiling slightly, “and I want to be a human rights lawyer when I get older.”

The right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. Access to education is a sine qua non of democratic and liberal societies. The fact that Suhaib’s punishment includes his being barred from school indefinitely — in a neighborhood in which dropouts rates are, according to Saleem Seam, “astronomical” — raise a number of grave questions.

Are the arrests in Silwan aimed at remedying the violence present among many youth living in Israeli controlled territory, or are they part of a larger strategy to frighten the Palestinian population of Silwan in particular and East Jerusalem in general into submission? In other words, is the purpose of these arrests to reform violent youth, or is the arrest itself the purpose, to terrorize the village’s youth — whether violent or not — and to make an example out of a few so as to deter the collective? Whether Suhaib is guilty or not, will any efforts be made to investigate the horrible stories this fourteen-year-old boy has told of his 30 days in prison? If investigations are pursued, will their results be taken seriously, or will children continue to be arrested and abused en masse in Silwan? And, most immediately, will Suhaib be allowed to return to school and finish his 9th grade year?

This needs to end –”this” being both the Israeli occupation of Silwan and East Jerusalem in general, and, meanwhile, the maltreatment of the children living under occupation, including nighttime arrests, physical abuse, separation from parents and, as in Suhaib’s case, barring children from school and from any chance at rehabilitation or creating a better life.

Under Investigation

10 /06/ 2012

Undercover Israeli forces, known as the Musta’rivem , kidnapped a young child from Ras Elamoud in Silwan yesterday, 8 June. Muhammad Ashour,11, was taken by Musta’rivem officers from the playground in Silwan . Ashour remains in custody, with police stating that he is “under invesatigation”.

A relative of Ashour told Silwanic that when they asked the Musta’rivem officers to reveal their identity, the officer replied that he is not bound by law to do so.

Police kidnapping of children and minors is an increasing worry for parents in East Jerusalem, with undercover units on regular patrol.

Segregating Gazans has made them easier to demonise

Amira Hass The Guardian 8/6/12

A stout sense of humour and self-irony is the least most Israelis expect of Gazans. It is certainly true today, when they are spoken of almost solely through the hyperbole of military commentators who jump frantically from discussing the Iranian threat to the danger that the tiny, overcrowded, impoverished and besieged enclave poses to the state of Israel, a global military power. But that sense of humour is also lost in the victim-oriented Palestinian media reports or the militant statements of anonymous veiled speakers and lower-tier Hamas politicians of which the meagre Israeli media diet ordinarily consists.

Now we would struggle to understand stories such as the following anecdote, relayed to me by the Fatah activist Abu Mustafa. Thirty years ago, Mustafa was being tortured by an Israeli interrogator. “You must be getting a double salary,” Mustafa told the oversized interrogator, who was stepping on his back and squeezing his arms. “How come?” The Israeli was surprised. “Because of your weight,” said Mustafa, as he was struggling with the pain. According to this thin and shy man, the interrogator burst out laughing, was unable to continue his chore and left the room. Did Mustafa want to mellow his own memory of the torture when he shared that story with me, or did his humour indeed reach home with his tormentor?

Even 25 years ago, the relationship between Gazans and Israelis was very different. Back then, Gazans were a reservoir of cheap labour and still flocked to the streets of Israeli towns – to be found in every restaurant, clothing factory, garage and construction site. How were they seen then by the ordinary Israeli? Were they mere functional shadows who disappeared in their dorm shanties? Dispensable ghosts? Savages? An Uncle Tom?

Then in 1991, Israel imposed the closure – an under-discussed policy of movement restrictions on Palestinians, especially in Gaza, which was gradually streamlined into the reality of a separate, cut-off entity that exists today.

It was in 1990 I started my professional “romance” with Gaza. I realised how poorly and inaccurately it was being portrayed. My late father, never a typical Israeli, concluded when he heard my reports: “Of course! A people who rebel are a beautiful people.” A pinch of self-conscious romanticism on his part, but also a counter reaction to the general attitude. This was still the first popular uprising. The Gazans, until now a faceless group, started acquiring the generic title of “terrorists” among Israelis.

Yet even before 1991, notwithstanding the widespread exploitation of Gazan workers, the daily interaction between them and Israeli employers was rarely represented in the media.

Tragically, it was during and after the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in the winter of 2008/9 that I got another reminder of such past ties. A blacksmith who hurried to move his shop’s equipment to a safe place was hit by an Israeli missile. Eight people, his sons among them, who were loading a truck with the equipment, had been targeted by military officers who deciphered the inspection drone footage and misinterpreted the elongated objects as “grad missiles” and not the oxygen jars that they were (a common, deadly mistake, by the way, during that attack). I had the impossible task of interviewing this broken man over the phone a day or two after. He quickly switched to Hebrew, telling me about the Israeli business partner he’d worked with for years. “Talk to him, he’ll confirm that I am not a terrorist.” He also told me that this ex-business partner wired him money following the attack. But when I called the Israeli man he refused to talk to me, because “he does not speak with traitors”.

When I entered Gaza, a few days after the onslaught ended, I heard it over and over again, from people old enough to have worked in Israel and whose fields, houses and factories were just destroyed: they spoke warmly of their ex-employers and Israeli business partners who had just called them, worried about their plight.

The welcome astonishment with which such stories were received by my young editors told me yet again of how the strict policy of separation was bearing its fruits. Without any trace of ordinary human encounters left (since 2006 even Israeli journalists are barred from entering the Gaza Strip), Gazans have become abstract, almost extra-terrestrial, creatures. As such it is so much easier for officials, and some media mouthpieces, to stereotype and demonise. It is based on brusque and tawdry TV scenes, and makes Israeli video war-games, but with real fire, much easier.

Arrested for home improvement

Wadi Hilweh Information Centre – Silwan   26/06/12

Two Jerusalem Municipality officers, backed by armed Israeli forces, forced entry to a Silwan resident’s home today and placed him and a labourer under arrest. Khaled Shweki and a local handyman were carrying out home improvements on his family house when they were arrested by Municipality workers. Shweki was released some hours later, while the labourer remained in custody.

The arrests occur amidst a climate of Israeli authorities attempting to clamp down on Palestinian residents of Silwan performing any type of restoration on their homes, claiming that such acts are illegal without a permit. Some 350 Israeli settlers live in Silwan, who have no difficulty building, restoring and extending their homes, while the neighbourhood’s 55,000 Palestinian residents are the subject of a campaign to gradually change the demographic makeup of the area, creating a Jewish majority.


Al Majdal Issue 49 Spring-Summer 2012

. . .Israeli settlers enjoy intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools. It should thus come as no surprise that the 9 400 settlers living in the Jordan Valley consume more than six times the quantity of water consumed by the more than 56 000 Palestinians in the area.

Article 2 of the State Education Law, for example, states that “the objective of State education is . . . to educate each child to love . . . his nation and his land . . . [to]respect his . . . heritage, his cultural identity . . . to impart the history of the land of Israel . . . [and] to teach . . . the history of the Jewish People, Jewish heritage and tradition . . .”

The Israeli policy of silent transfer is evident in the State’s laws, policies and practices. The most significant of these include: governance and enforcement of residency rights; land rights; regulation of natural resources; the application of justice; law enforcement; and the status of Zionist para-state actors. Israel uses its power in such areas to discriminate, expropriate and ultimately to forcibly displace the indigenous non-Jewish population from the area of Mandate Palestine. So for instance the Israeli land-planning and zoning system has forced 93 000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem to build without proper construction permits because 87% of that area is off-limits to Palestinian use, and most of the remaining 13% is already built up. Since the Palestinian population is growing steadily, it has had to expand into areas not zoned for Palestinian residence by the state of Israel . . . are under the constant threat of demolition.

The Israeli Supreme Court bolstered the Zionist objective of clearing Palestine of its indigenous population in its 2012 decision prohibiting family reunification between Palestinian-Israelis and their counterparts across and beyond the Green Line. The effect of this ruling has been that Palestinians with different residency statuses (such as Israeli citizens, Jerusalem ID, West Bank ID or Gaza ID – all issued by Israel) cannot legally live together on either side of the Green Line. They are thus faced with a choice of living abroad, living absent from each other, or taking the risk of living together illegally. Such a system is used as a further means of displacing Palestinians and thereby changing the demography of Israel in favour of an exclusive Jewish population. . .

. . . Knesset member Otniel Schneller stated “the decision articulates the rationale of separation between the [two] peoples and the need to maintain a Jewish majority . . . and character . . . This illustrates once more the Israeli state’s self-image as an exclusively Jewish state with a different set of rights for its Jewish and non-Jewish, mainly Palestinian, inhabitants.


Hugh Humphries


Scottish Friends of Palestine

0141 637 8046


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