Watch a video from the BBC that shows
what is happening to Palestinians as
the water of their own territory is taken
for illegal Israeli settlements and their
attempts simpply to collect rainwater in
reservoirs is punished and prohibited.
From the video: "In the Middle East
water is more important than anything
else. Without a reliable supply, life
simply isn't possible.
In the Israeli occupied West Bank, the
balance of power is played out in the
allocation of water rights between Jews
Fadel Jaber arrested over water use
TV cameras have captured the distressing moment a five-year-old Palestinian boy sees his father arrested for stealing water.
[See video below this article]
Khaled Jabari wails in torment and confusion as Israeli soldiers drag away his father Fadel in the West Bank district of Hebron. Walking barefoot, the youngster becomes hysterical as he pleads with the troops not to take his father away. One of the soldiers picks up the lad and removes him from the scene before Fadel is driven away in a four-wheel-drive.
After watching the footage, Hashem Abu Maria, of the Defence For Children International charity, said it was obvious the child thought his father would never return. He said he was contacting child support agencies in the field to offer him psychological help to cope with the trauma.
"This child does not comprehend the concept of arrest - he does not know what it means, like the policeman or soldier understands it," he added. "I think that the child thinks that his father is leaving and not coming back - that he has lost him."
Israeli forces raided the town of Bakka after accusing Palestinian farmers of stealing water from the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba. They pulled out irrigation pipes supplying vines and vegetable fields before arresting several villagers, including the boy's father.
Angry Palestinian residents say they have documents to prove they are registered with the Palestinian Water Authority, and are paying for the water they use. They say it is the second time in a month police have removed their irrigation pipes.
"This land is the source of our income, and it is the cause of our struggle with the occupation since day one of the occupation," said Khaled's grandfather Badran Jaber. "We live from it, we have no other job opportunity in light of unemployment reaching over 40% in the occupied territories."
The child's grandmother, Im Ghassan, added: "What right do they have to do this? Where can we go?
"This is our land, our home and nation, this is ours. We live here, we were born here, and we want to die here. Let them do what they want, we cannot do any more.
There is no way to grasp the significance of the destruction of this cemetery without seeing the news report and discussion below from the television program "Democracy Now."Go to the video clip below >>
News and editorials from other sources are provided on our website for the convenience of our visitors. Not all items included here will reflect the views or goals of United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force. ______________________
Another great source for recent news and expert analysis on Israel and Palestine:
This article by Jeff Halper is a succinct yet detailed review of life under Occupation and its many injustices and hardships for the Palestinian people. For each incident he cites, there are hundreds more that have occurred.
His details of statistics take some careful reading, well worth the larger view of the Occupation to be gained.
"Ramadan Kareem" is a greeting given for the holy month of Ramadan; clearly, it is used ironically in the title of this article.
The introduction is from Arnie Sheets,
chair of the United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force:
Jeff Halper (born 1946 in Minnesota) is an anthropologist, author, lecturer, political activist, and co-founder and Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). In 1997, Halper co-founded ICAHD to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories and to organize Israelis, Palestinians and international volunteers to jointly rebuild demolished Palestinian homes.
He has created a new mode of Israeli peace activity based on nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories. Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee for his work "to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence" and "to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity."
Halper is the author of several books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is a frequent writer and speaker about Israeli politics, focusing mainly on nonviolent strategies to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
'Ramadan Kareem' from
the Netanyahu and Obama Administrations
by Jeff Halper *
August 11, 2010
Yesterday, the day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, at 2:30 in the morning, workers sent by the Israeli authorities, protected by dozens of police, destroyed the tombstones in the last portion of the Mamilla cemetery, an historic Muslim burial ground with graves going back to the 7th Century, hitherto left untouched.
[Website editor's note: see CNN video of destruction of the cemetery on the right above;
see more informative videos about the archeological, religious and familial significance of this cemetery and the issues regarding its destruction for a Museum of Tolerance (!) in articles following on this page.]
The government of Israel has always been fully cognizant of the sanctity and historic significance of the site. Already in 1948, when control of the cemetery reverted to Israel, the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry recognized Mamilla “to be one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin’s] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars. Israel will always know to protect and respect this site.”
For all that, and despite (proper) Israeli outrage when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated anywhere in the world, the dismantlement of the Mamilla cemetery has been systematic. In the 1960s “Independence Park” was built over a portion of it; subsequently an urban road was built through it, major electrical cables were laid over graves and a parking lot constructed over yet another piece.
Now some 1,500 Muslim graves have been cleared in several nighttime operations to make way for…..a $100 million Museum of Tolerance and Human Dignity, a project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. (Ironically, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director, appeared on Fox News to express his opposition to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, because the site of the 9/11 attack “is a cemetery.”)
The month-long period between Netanyahu’s July 6th visit to Washington and the start of Ramadan has provided Israel with a window to “clear the table” after a frustrating hiatus on home demolitions imposed by the “old,” mildly critical Obama Administration – although there is no guarantee that Israel will not demolish during Ramadan, especially if it wants to exploit the period until the November elections [in the US], knowing that until then Obama will not overtly oppose anything Israel does in the Occupied Territories.
In fact, the process of demolishing Palestinian homes never ceased. On June 6th, for example, a year after the demolition of more than 65 structures and the forced displacement of more than 120 people, including 66 children, nine families of Khirbet Ar Ras Ahmar in the Jordan Valley, totaling 70 people, received a new round of “evacuation orders.” A week later the Israeli High Court ordered the Civil Administration to “step up enforcement against illegal Palestinian structures” in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control.
And so, on July 13th, upon Netanyahu’s return (Palestinian homes are not demolished without an OK from the Prime Minister’s Office), three homes were demolished in the Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, followed by three more homes in Beit Hanina. The Jerusalem Municipality also announced the planned demolition of 19 more homes in Issawiya this month. In the West Bank, the Israeli “Civil” Administration demolished 55 structures belonging to 22 Palestinian families in the Hmayer area of Al Farisiye in the northern Jordan Valley, including 22 residential tents and 30 other structures used to shelter animals and store agricultural equipment.
According to the UN’s Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “This week [July 14-20, the week of Netanyahu’s return from Washington] there was a significant increase in the number of demolitions in Area C, with at least 86 structures demolished in the Jordan Valley and the southern West Bank, including Bethlehem and Hebron districts. In 2010, at least 230 Palestinian structures have been demolished in Area C, forcibly displacing 1100 people, including 400 children. Approximately 600 others have been otherwise affected.”
Two-thirds of the demolitions for 2010 have occurred since Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama. More than 3,000 demolition orders are outstanding in the West Bank, and up to 15,000 in Palestinian East Jerusalem.
The demolition of homes is, of course, only a small, if painful, part of the destruction Israel wreaks daily on the Palestinian population. Over the past few weeks a violent campaign has been waged against Palestinian farmers in one of the most fertile agricultural areas of the West Bank, the Baka Valley, steadily being encroached upon by large suburbs of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, in Hebron.
Israel already takes 85% of the West Bank’s water for its own use, either for settlements (settlers use five times more water per capita than do Palestinians, and Ma’aleh Adumim is currently building a water park in addition to its four municipal swimming pools and the huge fountains constantly flowing in the city center) or to be pumped into Israel proper – all in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an Occupying Power from using the resources of an occupied territory.
Accusing the farmers of “stealing water” – their own water – the Israel water company Mekorot, supported by the Civil Administration and the IDF, has in recent weeks destroyed dozens of wells, some of them ancient, and reservoirs used to collect rain water, which is also “illegal.”
Hundreds of hectares of agricultural land have dried up as irrigation pipes have been pulled out and confiscated by the Civil Administration. Fields of tomatoes, beans, eggplants and cucumbers are dying just before they can be harvested, and the grape industry in this rich valley is threatened with destruction. “I’m watching my life dry up before my eyes,” Ata Jaber, a Palestinian farmer who has had his home demolished twice, most of whose land lies buried under the Givat Harsina neighborhood of Kiryat Arba and whose plastic drip irrigation pipes are destroyed annually by the Civil Administration just before he can harvest. “I had hoped to sell my crop for at least $2000 before Ramadan, but all is gone.”
Settlements continue to be built, of course. The much-trumpeted “settlement freeze” amounted to no less than a temporary lull in construction. (Indeed, Netanyahu never used the word “freeze”; in Hebrew he refers only to a “pause.”) According to the August report of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch, at least 600 housing units have started to be built during the freeze, in over 60 different settlements – meaning that the rate of construction is about half of that during the same period in an average year when there is no freeze.
Given that the approval process has never been halted – the Israeli government announced the planned building of 1600 housing units in the settlements when Vice President Biden was visiting, if you recall – making up for lost time when the “freeze” ends in late September will be an easy task. According to Ha’aretz, some 2,700 housing units are waiting to be constructed.
The fact that the so-called settlement freeze did not really end settlement construction is obvious. The American government seems ready to accept lip-service only from Israel, compared to overt and brutal threats towards the Palestinians if they do not acquiesce to the charade.
Palestinian negotiators revealed last week the Obama Administration threatened to cut all ties with the Palestinian Authority, political and financial, if they continued to insist on a genuine freeze on settlements or even clear parameters on what the sides will negotiate. (Netanyahu refuses to accept even the elementary principle of the 1967 borders being the basis of talks.)
Just as destructive of any real peace process, however, is the fact that the focus on settlement freeze deflects attention from attempts by Israel to create “irreversible facts on the ground” which will defeat the very process of negotiation. Even if Israel did respect a settlement freeze, there is no demand, no expectation, absolutely nothing to prevent it from continuing to build the Wall (the enclosing of the Shuafat refugee camp inside Jerusalem and the town of Anata is being completed in these very days, and the village of Wallajeh, some of which spills into Jerusalem, is losing its lands, ancient olive trees and homes even as we speak).
Nothing is preventing Israel from continuing to impoverish and imprison the Palestinian population through its twenty-year economic “closure,” including the siege on Gaza, having reduced the Palestinian economy to ashes.
Nothing stands in the way of completing a system of parallel (though not equal in size and quality) apartheid highways, big ones, going through Palestinian lands, for Israelis; narrow ones for Palestinians.
Nothing keeps Israel from expelling Palestinians from their homes so that Jewish settlers can move in – on July 29th nine families living in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, returning home at night from a wedding, found themselves locked out of their homes by settlers and prevented from entering by the police. (Palestinians, of course, have no legal recourse to reclaiming their properties, whole villages, towns and urban neighborhoods, farms, factories and commercial buildings, confiscated from them in 1948 and after.)
Nothing prevents Israel from terrorizing the Palestinian population, whether by its own army or the surrogate militia founded by the US and run by the Palestinian Authority to pacify its own population, whether by settlers who shoot and beat Palestinians and burn their crops with no fear of arrest, or by undercover agents, aided by thousands of Palestinian forced to become collaborators, many simply so that their children could receive medical care or so they could have a roof over their heads; whether by expulsion or the myriad administrative constraints of an invisible yet Kafka-esque system of total control and intimidation.
Nothing opposes Israel’s boycott of the Palestinian people, isolated from the world by Israeli-controlled borders, or policies that effectively boycott Palestinian schools and universities by preventing their proper functioning. And nothing, absolutely nothing, stops Israel from demolishing Palestinian homes – 24,000 in the Occupied Territories since 1967, and counting.
Perhaps this way of welcoming Ramadan comes as no surprise in terms of the Occupied Territories. It took on an entirely different cast when, on July 26th, more than 1,300 Israeli Border Police, the shock-troops of the police’s Yassam “special operations” unit and regular police, accompanied by helicopters, descended upon the Bedouin village of al-Arakib, just north of Beer-Sheva, a community within Israel inhabited by Israeli citizens. Forty-five homes were demolished, 300 people forcibly displaced.
One of the most grotesque and dismaying parts of this operation was the use of Israeli Jewish high school students, volunteers with the civil guard, to remove the belongings of their fellow citizens from their homes before the demolition. Besides reports of vandalism and contempt for their victims, the students were photographed lounging in the residents’ furniture in plain sight of the owners. Finally, when the bulldozers began demolishing the homes, the volunteers cheered and celebrated.
Over the next week, as Israeli activists helped the residents pick up the pieces and rebuild their homes, the Jewish National Fund, the Israeli Land Authority, the Ministry of the Interior and the “Green Patrol” of the Ministry of Agriculture (established by Ariel Sharon to prevent Bedouin “take-over” of the Negev) sent in police and bulldozers and had the village demolished twice more.
Although al-Arakib is one of 44 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev – of which only eleven have even rudimentary education and medical services, no electricity, extremely limited access to water and none have paved roads (see http://rcuv.wordpress.com) – it is nevertheless populated by Israeli citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli army.
[Website editor's note: we have video of the destruction of the village al-Arakib, and a news article about it, following this article.
It has generated more outrage and international attention than the many other
acts of destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards and property:
Please see also our Action Alert calling for your support, opposing the ongoing destruction by the Israeli government.]
While demolitions of Arab homes within Israel is not a new phenomenon – last year the Israeli government demolished three times more houses of Israeli (Arab) citizens inside Israel as it did in the Occupied Territories (the destruction of up to 8,000 homes in the Gaza invasion aside) – it signifies that the term “occupation” cannot be restricted to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (and the Golan Heights) alone.
The situation of Arab citizens of Israel is almost as insecure as that of the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories, and their exclusion from Israeli society almost as complete. While around 1,000 cities, towns and agricultural villages have been established in Israel since 1948 exclusively for Jews, not a single new Arab settlement has been established, with the exception of seven housing projects for Bedouins in the Negev where none of the residents are allowed to farm or own animals. Indeed, regulations and zoning prohibit Palestinian citizens of Israel from living on 96% of the country’s land, which is reserved for Jews only.
The message of the bulldozers is clear: Israel has created one bi-national entity between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River in which one population (the Jews) has separated itself from the other (the Arabs) and instituted a regime of permanent domination. That is precisely the definition of apartheid.
And the message is delivered clearly in the weeks and days leading up to Ramadan. It is papered over with fine words. Netanyahu issued a statement saying: “We mark this important month amid attempts to achieve direct peace talks with the Palestinians and to advance peace treaties with our Arab neighbors. I know you are partners in this goal and I ask for your support both in prayers and in any other joint effort to really create a peaceful and harmonious coexistence.”
Obama and Clinton also sent their greetings to the Muslim world, Obama observing that Ramadan “remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings." Both the White House and the State Department will hold Iftar meals.
But the bulldozers and other expressions of apartheid and warehousing tell a much different story.
* Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOIN IN ACTION ALERTS FOR THE BEDOUIN VILLAGERS click here>
ON THE RIGHT:
WATCH TWO NEWS REPORTS ABOUT DESTRUCTION OF AL-ARAQIB
TWO LIVE VIDEO CLIPS OF THE DEMOLITIONS
The Electronic Intifada
August 19, 2010
Al-Araqib residents fear fourth demolition
by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler
Israeli authorities have already demolished al-Araqib village three times and villagers fear they will do it again.
JERUSALEM (IPS) - On the eve of the start of Ramadan last week, Israeli police demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert. It was the third time within two weeks that the village had been razed.
Unfazed, the Bedouin villagers immediately began rebuilding.
"We have already put back up some twenty of our huts, and we're putting up more every day -- despite the fast," village leader Sheikh Sayyah Abu Drim told IPS when reached by telephone a week after the last police action.
"We have nowhere else to go," said the Sheikh. More than forty families live in al-Araqib.
At dawn last Tuesday, Israel Land Administration (ILA) officials, accompanied by a large police detail including more than 100 border guards and mounted police, began their operation with the support of two bulldozers.
The police removed water tanks and the remains of several dozen makeshift structures that had been erected since the previous demolition only last week. Dozens of families including infants and elderly people were forcibly removed.
In a nonviolent protest, a score of Israeli Jewish activists who had slept in the village in solidarity tried unsuccessfully to stay the police action.
"Who will reap all this hatred?" asked legislator Talab al-Sana, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, arriving on the site. "The government found a solution for the Jewish settlers who were evacuated from Gaza [as part of Israel's 2005 unilateral withdrawal from the Palestinian area]. Why not here?" said al-Sana.
After the previous forced eviction, Ilan Jan, an ILA official, said, "It is a test of their spirit. We're doing our job. Now, we'll file a claim against the illegal occupiers for the costs of the evacuation."
Another ILA official, Ortal Tzabar, confirmed that 850 olive trees had been uprooted and would be "replanted elsewhere."
Al-Araqib sits between the Israeli desert town Beersheba and the state-built Bedouin town Rahat. The al-Turi family says its members have lived on the site since the 19th century and that since then they have worked the land and paid taxes, that both Turkish and British documents testify. There is an old cemetery on the site.
"Tearing down an entire village and leaving its inhabitants homeless without exhausting all other options for settling longstanding land claims is outrageous," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Israel police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld maintained the police were simply acting on a court order issued 11 years ago but not executed. Rosenfeld added that that the al-Araqib residents were moved to an area close to Rahat where, he claimed, they had homes.
In 1951, three years after Israel's creation, the al-Araqibs, like many other Bedouin communities, were removed on the grounds that the area would be used for military training.
They were promised that their removal was only temporary and that they could return in six months. They have never been allowed back, but were allowed to graze their flocks. Several families returned to live on their land just over a decade ago.
"We are not invaders, nor squatters," said Sheikh Sayyah. "It is the state that has invaded us."
The repeated demolitions of the village have taken place despite the fact that the ownership issue is the subject of a complex court case before the Beersheba District Court.
Academic experts have already testified in court to support residents' land ownership rights.
An estimated 90,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel, indigenous inhabitants of the desert region of the southern part of the country, live in "unrecognized" villages like al-Araqib. These villages do not appear on official maps though some existed before Israel was established in 1948.
Because the government considers the villages "illegal," they do not enjoy basic services such as water, electricity, sewage treatment and garbage disposal. As a result they risk being destroyed at any time.
ILA officials contend that they are simply enforcing zoning and building codes, and insist that Bedouin can relocate to seven existing government-built townships townships or to a handful of recently recognized villages.
Above: There have been large demonstrations and world protest against ethnic cleansing of the Bedouin in the Negev desert.
Coinciding with the time that al-Araqib was razed for the second time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke during a cabinet meeting of the "threat of losing a Jewish majority in the Negev."
Most Bedouin youth serve voluntarily in the Israeli army. Yet, when addressing the issue of loyalty to the state pending a new citizenship law, Netanyahu was quoted as saying, "We are under real attack on this issue [of Israel as a Jewish state]. Different elements could demand national rights within Israel, for example in the Negev, if we allow a region not to have a Jewish majority. It has happened in the Balkans, and it is a palpable threat."
One of the villagers, Salim Abu Midyam, expressed anger that the Israeli authorities had undertaken their demolition of al-Araqib on the eve of the Muslim holy month. "We will continue to cling to the land of our forefathers and rebuild our village until our right to live here is recognized."
An ILA official had told reporters on the site, "This is state land, set aside for the grazing of Bedouin flocks, not for houses. The al-Turi clan insists on remaining on the site. We will not capitulate to them. We're trying to show sensitivity, but if we need to demolish on Ramadan, so be it."
Yaakov Manor, a Jewish activist with the Forum for Coexistence in the Negev told IPS he does not believe the police would actually demolish the village during Ramadan for a fourth time.
Sheikh Sayyah was more skeptical: "Three times they brought us presents just before the holy month. You really believe they won't bring us a fourth present during the Holy month itself!"
ON THE RIGHT, ABOVE: WATCH TWO NEWS REPORTS ABOUT DESTRUCTION OF AL-ARAQIB and TWO LIVE VIDEO CLIPS OF DEMOLITIONS
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
August 10th, 2010
Al-Araqib Demolished for the Third Time
in Two Weeks
On Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 6:00am sixty Israeli Police accompanied by Israel Lands Administration (ILA) representatives commenced the third demolition within 2 weeks of Al-Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev Desert. The village is located between the cities of Rahat and Beersheba, and is home to some 300 Bedouin citizens of Israel.
Demolition forces arrived with two bulldozers, a dump truck, tow-truck, and 40 police cars to aid in the one and half hour operation that razed at least 10 make-shift homes, all rebuilt following the previous demolitions suffered by the community. Other agricultural structures were demolished and property was confiscated, including building materials and a large water tank. The only paved road into the village was also destroyed. Government officials insist that the demolitions are in conformity with Israeli law, however court cases are currently underway regarding ownership of the village lands.
During the course of the demolitions, an Israeli activist and a Bedouin from the community were arrested. The Israeli activist refused a conditional two weeks ban from the village and will be arraigned in court today. Approximately 40 Israeli and international activists were present during the demolition in support of the community.
Today’s demolition followed yesterday's 400-strong demonstration on Road 40 in protest of land appropriation and forced displacement in the Negev, and focused on the recent demolitions in al-Araqib. Three arrests were made, including one Israeli activist and two Bedouins from al-Araqib.
Al-Araqib was demolished for a second time on August 4th, when 10 structures re-built after the initial July 27th demolition were razed to deter the community from remaining on their lands. During that incident, ILA representatives heading the operation were accompanied by dozens of policemen, six people were arrested and refused to sign release conditions restricting their entry to the village.
The Negev Co-existence Forum indicates that around half of the 155,000 Bedouins in the Negev, all of whom are Israeli citizens, live in approximately 45 villages that are unrecognized by the Israeli government. As unrecognized villages, the Bedouins have no right to build on their land or access basic infrastructure such as water. This lack of recognition continues in spite of the fact that the Goldberg Committee, created in late 2007 to “solve the problem of the Bedouin in the Negev”, recommended to the Government of Israel that it should formally recognize most of the villages and legalize construction of homes.
According to Dr. Yeela Ranaan of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, destruction of the villages in al-Araqib has been occurring since the 1950s. She notes that the Jewish National Fund plans to plant a forest on the village lands, and that the current actions are part of a larger government policy to displace the indigenous Bedouin from the land.
Ancient Muslim Cemetery Destroyed in Jerusalem to make way for Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance
"Democracry Now" video segment on the ancient Mamilla Cemetery gradually being lost to development since the 1960's.
The ultimate irony, and some would say a grotesque irony, is Israel's purpose in erasing the remaining portion of the cemetery: for the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance to be built on that site.
As this news segment following explains, plans for the cemetery's destruction were being protested at the United Nations and elsewhere in February 2010.
Despite those protests, Israel's plan for its destruction have been carried out in August 2010.