Facts on the Ground Peace Index: Volume IX

May 07, 2014 IMEU
Facts on the Ground Peace Index: Volume IX

Note: The Peace Index is focused on the actions of the Israeli government and military, and statements of Israeli officials. It does not include frequent attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property and other non-official provocations and incitement, nor is it comprehensive in nature.

 

SUMMARY OF MAJOR ISRAELI PROVOCATIONS & ABUSES ON THE GROUND DURING COURSE OF TALKS

Between July 2013 when negotiations resumed and April 2014 when they reached the current impasse, Israel:

  • Approved or advanced plans for 13,851 new settlement units to be built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of both international law and official US government policy.
  • Killed approximately 50 Palestinians, including a number of minors, an 85-year-old man, and a mentally ill woman.
  • Destroyed approximately 500 Palestinian structures, including more than 300 homes, displacing almost 900 people.

(Covering Period: April 3, 2014 to April 30, 2014)

 


SETTLEMENT EXPANSION & CONFISCATION OF PALESTINIAN LAND

  • On April 29, Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now! reported that during the nine months of negotiations Israel promoted plans and tenders for 13,851 housing units in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank – four times the average yearly number of tenders in previous years.
  • Also on April 29, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the Israeli government confirmed a record amount of occupied Palestinian land (6,919 acres) as “state land” in 2013,  “a critical step toward handing over the land to settlements so that more homes can be built on it.” Most of the land is in strategically important areas, including land that connects already existing settlements and settlements to Israel.
  • On April 13, it was reported that Israel had appropriated nearly 250 acres of occupied Palestinian land in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, declaring it "state land.”
  • On April 4, after a legal battle, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon handed control of a four-story Palestinian home in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to extremist settlers. The Palestinian owners who had sold the property claimed the deal was fraudulent as the buyers misrepresented themselves but an Israeli court rejected their appeal and granted ownership to the settlers. Amongst those in attendance to celebrate as settlers moved in was thenotorious extremist Rabbi Dov Lior, lead rabbi of the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba and head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and Kiryat Arba Council head Malahi Levinger, who declared: “We hope the entry of these families will be key to future purchases and construction in Kiryat Arba, Hebron and all of the land.”
  • On April 3, the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Committee approved the construction of a “visitors’ center” for the City of David archeological site just outside of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, against the opposition of Palestinian residents of the area as well as archeological experts and architects. The City of David project is run by the right-wing settler organization Elad, which works to move Jewish settlers into Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

 


PROVOCATIVE MILITARY RAIDS & KILLINGS OF PALESTINIANS

On April 25, Human Rights Watch issued a statement entitled “Israel: Stop Shooting at Gaza Civilians” condemning the Israeli army’s use of lethal force against Palestinians in Gaza. Noting that Israeli soldiers had killed 4 civilians and wounded more than 60 others near the boundary fence/wall between Israel and Gaza since the start of 2014, the statement urged Israel to “immediately stop shooting at Palestinian civilians inside Gaza.” It continued:

“Human Rights Watch investigated seven incidents between January 2 and March 1, in which Israeli forces shot civilians in the vicinity of the fence. Four were killed, including a high school student on a picnic and a woman with an intellectual disability who was lost. Five others were wounded, including two journalists and two demonstrators planting olive trees, none of whom posed a threat to the soldiers or others. The Israeli military has not claimed that any of the victims in the seven cases were engaged in military operations or that armed groups were in the area when the shooting occurred.”

HRW’s Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson, concluded:

“Month after month, Israeli forces have wounded and killed unarmed Palestinians who did nothing but cross an invisible, shifting line that Israel has drawn inside Gaza’s perimeter… It’s appalling that soldiers have shot men, women, and children apparently for simply crossing a line.”

 


EVICTIONS & DEMOLITIONS OF PALESTINIAN HOMES & STRUCTURES

Note: Israel usually destroys Palestinian homes and other structures, both within Israel’s pre-1967 borders and inside the occupied territories, on the pretext that the structures were built without permission from Israeli authorities. However, as the recently released 2013 US State Department Human Rights Report for Israel and The Occupied Territories noted, “In both the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli authorities placed often insurmountable obstacles in the way of Palestinian applicants for construction permits.”

  • On April 30, Israeli forces destroyed two homes in the al-Arrub refugee camp near Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, sparking local unrest that left several Palestinians injured.
  • On April 29, Israeli forces destroyed a mosque, three homes, and four other structures in the town of Kirbet Tawil near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
  • Also on April 29, Israeli authorities destroyed a Palestinian domicile in the al-Tur neighborhood east of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • On April 10, Israeli forces destroyed several tents set up east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank by the Palestinian Red Crescent for Palestinians whose homes were destroyed by Israel a few days before.
  • On April 9, Israeli forces destroyed three residential structures funded by the European Union in Jabal al-Baba in the highly sensitive “E-1” area east of Jerusalem outside of the massive Maale Adumim settlement. Fifteen other EU-funded residential structures have also been issued demolition orders by Israel.
  • On April 8, Israeli soldiers destroyed the small village of Homsa in the northern Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, leaving 30 people homeless, including 15 children. 
  • Also on April 8, Israeli forces destroyed four agricultural structures and leveled fields in Farsh al-Hawa northwest of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

 


PROVOCATIVE & INFLAMMATORY STATEMENTS FROM SENIOR ISRAELI OFFICIALS

  • On April 29, Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy and Religious Services and leader of the extreme right-wing Jewish Home party, told journalists that Israel “will be gradually attempting to apply Israeli law [annexing] on Israeli controlled areas of Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank],” referring to the 60% off the West Bank designated as “Area C” under the supposedly interim Oslo Accords. Bennett added that Palestinians living in the other 40% would be given “autonomy on steroids.”
  • Also on April 29, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, lashed out at US Secretary of State John Kerry in an op-ed in Politico entitled “We Will Not Be Threatened.” Responding to Kerry’s warning that Israel will become an apartheid state if it continues to control the occupied territories, Danon condemned him for asking Israel “to negotiate with a loaded gun to our heads” and for attempting to “scare the Israeli public into capitulation.”
  • On April 13, Minister of the Economy and Religious Services and leader of the Jewish Home party Bennett released a letter addressed to Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20% of the population, warning them against becoming a “fifth column.” According to press reports, the letter, written in Arabic, was riddled with errors.
  • On April 9, Bennett sent a letter to Netanyahu urging him to annex the 60% of the occupied West Bank designated as being under complete Israeli military and civil control (“Area C”) according to the supposedly interim Oslo Accords. The next day, in an interview with CNN, Bennett repeated his call for Israel to annex the majority of the occupied West Bank, declaring: "There has never been a 'Palestinian state' - that's one of the big lies that they've managed to press forward. The reality is that it's been the Jewish land for 3,000 years, it's still our land."
  • On April 4, ultra-right Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin, from Netanyahu’s Likud party, published an op-ed in Makor Rishon newspaper calling on the government to annex the occupied West Bank and to pay Palestinians to leave so Jews can take their place, part of a plan he has long advocated.