Another Israeli West Bank Land Grab Scheme

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Sat Oct 11 02:28:02 BST 2008

World Crisis Radio

Another Israeli West Bank Land Grab Scheme
Stephen Lendman

October 10, 2008

Since 1967, Israel has systematically and relentlessly sought control
of the entire "Holy Land" by seizing Gaza, the West Bank and all of
Jerusalem. The entire area remains occupied and, according to Israeli
professor and activist Jeff Halper, the aggressive "Nishul" agenda
continues. It entraps and commits genocide against 1.5 million Gazans
under siege in the world's largest open-air prison. It also displaces
Israeli Arabs inside Israel and West Bank Palestinians for expanding
Jewish settlements.

It depoliticizes the process to normalize it. Casts it as part of the
"war on terrorism" and "class of civilizations." What Edward Said
called the colonized and the colonizers. "The familiar (Europe, West,
us, and of course Israel) and the strange (the Orient, East, them)."
Halper refers to "adherents to 'evil' religions, ideologies or
cultures." Needing to be dealt with. Not people with real grievances,
needs and rights. Israel's solution: "warehousing a surplus (unwanted)
population" in prisons, open-air ones, and by isolating and oppressing
it relentlessly until all fight is beaten out of it. Others give up
and leave.

Banishing Palestinians to around 15% of historic Palestine. Its least
valuable parts. Denying them free movement. Keeping them out of Israel
and Israeli-controlled West Bank areas. Preventing them from having
real state autonomy or developing a viable economy. Relegating them to
"surplus humanity" serfdom. Pioneering a "Matrix of Control" model to
be used globally. Against billions of "surplus" people everywhere.
Making every country look like Israel. Even the US where parts of this
writer's Chicago already look like it. One area close enough to walk
to, and controlled by what one observer calls the "police repression
capital of America," referring to the city's "finest."

Halper worries why most countries, including Arab ones, grant Israel
miles of latitude. Refuse to demand an end to its outrageous
practices. It's to let it provide a "valued service." Develop a
population control model to be exported everywhere. Assuring unwanted
people have no political engagement, peace, chance for redress, or any
rights. Making them "disappear" into black hole isolation.

Having one overwhelming obstacle in the way. Six decades of
Palestinian resistance. Gaining millions of grassroots supporters
worldwide. Hoping to prove determination and persistence will overcome
repression, and sometimes it does.

Nonetheless, Israeli policies continue. All the while monitored by The
Israeli Human Rights organization, B'Tselem. It just documented more
evidence in its report titled "Access Denied: Israeli measures to deny
Palestinians access to land around (West Bank) settlements." Its
findings are discussed below. It details how authorities block
Palestinians' access to areas adjacent to settlements through closure
policies and de facto seizure. Land theft and displacement for greater
settlement expansions.

Grave human rights violations, according to B'Tselem. Violations of
international humanitarian law as well that apply during war and
occupation. The prohibition of an occupying power from transferring
people from their own territory to another. The Fourth Geneva
Convention's Article 49 states:

"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of
protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the
Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are
prohibited, regardless of the motive."

In addition, the Hague Regulations prohibit occupying powers from
permanently changing occupied areas, except for narrowly defined
military purposes or to benefit the local population. Settlements by
their nature are illegal. Expanding them compounds the crime. Israel
does it through complex legal and bureaucratic measures. First by
declaring "state land" based on an obscure 1858 Ottoman Lands Law.
Also by creating "closed military zones" and "special security areas
(SSAs)" for stated Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) needs.

Declaring areas "abandoned assets" as well. Seizing them for public
needs, and helping Jewish citizens buy land on the open market. Stolen
land they have no right to have. By displacing indigenous Palestinians
for expanding Jewish-only settlements. Sanctioned and approved by
Israel's High Court of Justice. Complicit in the land grab theft.

Mocking the rule of law. Establishing an official apartheid policy.
Legalized separation and discrimination. Repugnant in all respects.
Enforcing it through military occupation. Denying Palestinians all
rights, including to their land. Having two sets of laws. One for
Jews. The other for Arabs. Calling itself a democracy. Violating that
standard by any measure.

Operating 23 local Jewish authorities in the West Bank: three
munipalities; 14 local councils and six regional ones for 121
Jewish-only settlements and 106 outposts on stolen Palestinian land.
For around 500,000 Jews in total, including in 12 East Jerusalem
settlements. Providing incentives for Israeli Jews to move to the West
Bank. Low-cost housing. Financial grants, and other inducements.
Special ones for teachers, other needed professions and companies.

Defining most West Bank settlements as "national priority areas."
Either A or B class. Having a planning system that favors Jews and
severely restricts Palestinians. Refusing them construction permits on
lands earmarked for Jews only. On their own land as well. Employing a
home demolition policy. Roads for Jews only, oppressive harassment,
and much more. To make life so intolerable, most Palestinians will leave.

Learning nothing from six decades that its scheme won't work. As
Edward Said explained before his death. "There is no way for Israel to
get rid of Palestinians." They "shar(e) the land that has thrust
(them) together (and must do it) in a truly democratic way, with equal
rights for each citizen," Jew and Arab.

Israel nonetheless, pursues a ruthless repressive policy. Advantaging
its settlers and encouraging or forcing Palestinians to leave.
Systematically seizing more land so they will. Leaving them only the
least desirable areas. Isolated, occupied and surrounded by hostile
Israelis. Denying them the right to their own land, housing, their
livelihood, human rights and almost daily for some their lives.
Getting away with it because no outside authority stops them or even
complains. Seeing things worsen. Making it look legal through radical
interpretations of law.

Israel wants the entire region to resemble Occupied Palestine. Israeli
journalist and Foreign Ministry-connected Oded Yinon's 1980s vision to
make the Jewish state an imperial power. Essential he believed to
survive. Doing it by dividing the Middle East into small states.
Dissolving existing ones. Making the Arab world one of Arab fragments.
Occupied Palestine as well. Making it and regional mini-states Israeli
satellites. Seizing more land for greater dominance. Displacing
indigenous Arabs to achieve it. Calling Jordan a Palestinian state and
forcing Palestinians to resettle there. Ariel Sharon favored the idea.
Very likely other Israeli extremists today so anything is possible
going forward.

Which brings things to the present and B'Tselem's latest report.

Denying Palestinians Access to Their Own Land

B'Tselem documents how Israel does it. Blocking Palestinians' access
to areas adjacent to settlements in two ways:

-- with security forces and settler violence and harassment; expelling
Palestinians close to settlements and preventing others from
approaching; and

-- building a secondary security fence around settlements far removed
from settler homes; in addition to a close-in barrier already in place
as another land grab method; much like the Separation Barrier that the
World Court ruled illegal and must come down; Israel disdains
international law and refuses.

Further, West Bank Palestinians are prohibited or restricted from
entering settlements. Military "special security areas (SSAs)." Roads
for Jews only. Military areas of any kind. Annexed land in and around
East Jerusalem, and other large areas like the Jordan Valley. B'Tselem
reports on one part among many other prohibitions, restrictions, and
other harassing measures to seize Palestinian land, including valuable
farmland that many families rely on for their livelihood. The practice
has been ongoing for decades. Tens of thousands of dunams of land
(four dunams to the acre) are affected. New areas continuously added.
Once belonging to Palestinians. Now seized under an illegal occupation.

Done in the name of security by lawlessly manipulating a threat to
justify a land grab policy. Creating an "absurd situation," according
to B'Tselem. Forcing Palestinians to deal with a bureaucratic
authority to reach their own property. Enduring great hardships and
often being refused. Allowing settlers, in contrast, easy access to
Palestinian-owned land to do as they wish. Their presence violates the
logic of a "warning area," besides encroaching on property not their own.

Palestinians are obstructed in various ways:

-- closing a ring of land around settlements by military orders;

-- allowing settlers to harass and expel them from land outside the ring;

-- some of it farmland Palestinians have a permit to be on; but, why
should they need one at all; it's their land;

-- denying them anyway by classifying their property as SSAs;

-- requiring Palestinians to obtain bureaucratic permission to enter
non-SSA areas; and

-- erecting physical barriers around some of them to keep them out.

In all, a convoluted bureaucratic nightmare to deny Palestinians
access to their land and seize it for settlement expansions. For
years, B'Tselem documented how Israel's "actions relating to land in
the Occupied Territories have been carried out in bad faith."
As in America, justifying policy on national security grounds. To
protect settlers from those "bad" Palestinians with their small arms
and rocks against the world's fourth most powerful (nuclear-armed)
military and never reluctant to unleash it.

All Occupied Palestine belongs to its people. Israel has no right to
expropriate or occupy it. Its West Bank "settlement enterprise
breaches international humanitarian law and is the basis for most
human rights violations there. Israel is obligated to evacuate the
settlers and resettle them in Israel." Instead displacement and land
seizures continue, and B'Tselem's report documents it through dozens
of testimonies, interviews, and investigations. Information from state
authorities. Background discussions with defense officials, and from a
computerized analysis of the closed land borders - as land appears on
maps attached to military orders and from aerial photos.

B'Tselem provides a history of Israel's land closure policy. Its
harmful aspects and components. The use of physical obstructions to
block access. Settlers along with security forces for enforcement.
Making land closure around settlements official state policy. Giving
Jews unrestricted access and free movement, and creating a
bureaucratic and security nightmare for Palestinians. Breaking
international law and getting away with it.

Israel now controls over 40% of the West Bank for settlements, its
Separation Wall, nature reserves, where its military is based or
trains, and the percentage is growing. Its settlements are connected
to Israel and each other by a network of for-Jews only roads. Ones for
Palestinians are obstructed by hundreds of physical barriers and
checkpoints. Palestinian communities are isolated, surrounded and

B'Tselem calls "the cumulative effect of the prohibitions and
restrictions....grave." Restrictions on free movement.
State-sanctioned land seizures. A policy of isolation and separation.
The daily threat of settler or security force violence. The
impossibility of expanding Palestinian communities. Building homes on
their own land. Having industrial development and a normal
agriculture. Living in peace and co-existing with their Jewish
neighbors. Being free in their own unoccupied land. Getting world
support for their rights. Instead losing more of them and their land
that's already inadequate for their growing population.

Compelling On-the-Ground Testimonies

In July 2008, Israel expelled Fahmeyeh Fakheideh from her farmland for
settlement construction. After her husband died, she had 12 dunams
(around three acres) of land and some olive trees. About six years
ago, Israelis built a new settlement nearby. A new bypass road as
well. Six dunams of her land were enclosed by a new fence and the rest
remained outside. The land is her primary income source, and she
"didn't know what to do (because she) was afraid of the settlers (and)
didn't try to go to (her) land inside the settlement."

Nonetheless, she was harassed on the outside land. Chased away. Had
her ladders burned and olives destroyed. Another time confronted with
rifles and forced to flee. "Every time we see a settler, we hide."
Also "security people....every time they approach us (and treat us) as
if we are robbers on our land. We live in fear....Our greater fear is
that the settlers will harm the children."

In the past three years, she's had to take great care entering her
land. To plow in planting season. Harvest in the fall. Arrive in early
morning. Unable to enter until after police and the army show up and
settlers open the gate to their settlement. At times, it's not until
9:00 or 10:00AM. Then soldiers escort them from in front and behind
and stay with them until 4:00PM when they're removed. They're
frightening and force them to work and take meal and bathroom breaks
hurriedly. They live constantly under the threat of settler and even
military attack.

As a result, they're denied free access to their land. Restricted from
half of it. Production has fallen to less than half of its
pre-settlement volume. And in poor harvest years even less.

The family "used to love the harvest season. (They) would stay until
evening and not want to go home. (They) would drink tea and coffee and
eat and listen to music in (their) orchard and be happy....even cook
there and prepare maklubeh, which really tasted good because (they)
cooked it on the open fire. Now (they) don't dare talk while (they're)
in the orchard, because (they) are afraid the settlers will hear
(them)." Even the children must be quiet.

When Fahmeyeh goes on the roof of her house and looks at her land and
olive trees, she feels "as if (she) were going to die from the
sadness. The olive trees are dear to (her), but there is nothing (she)
can do to improve the situation." She struggles to cover her household
expenses. Can only gets by because her children are grown, have jobs,
and help her. It never used to be this way before the settlement.

Saleh Daraghmeh's story is also very disturbing. He's a shepherd in
the Jordan Valley. When grazing his flock in the Ein al-Beida area,
Shademot Mehola settlers chased him away. Assaulted his 11-year old
son. Put a knife to his throat and terrified him.

On September 24, 2007, he was grazing his flock with his sister's sons
and their cows. He saw a car heading toward the nearby settlement. It
stopped and two men approached. They ran toward the cows and stoned
them. His nephew went over and asked why. The settlers chased him and
fired shots at his legs. Saleh came over to calm the situation. Spoke
to the intruders in Hebrew and asked why they opened fire. Instead of
answering, a settler shot his nephew. Hurt him badly. Saleh tried to
give him first aid. Had his other nephew run for help. Get an
ambulance. In a Hummer jeep and then an ambulance managed to get him
to Rambam Hospital in Haifa. No simple task but he did it.

Police and soldiers came to the scene to investigate. Saleh was
summoned to the Efraim police station to give testimony. He saw who
shot his nephew. Didn't remember well enough what he looked like but
knew the other settler's name who was with him. He was only about 14
or 15 years old. Most likely the shooter was also about the same age.
Like in most other instances, nothing was expected to result from a
very inadequate investigate. Little more than whitewash nearly always.
Even when an innocent Palestinian is shot.

B'Tselem collected similar stories to the two above. Palestinians
accosted and assaulted in their fields. Their groves. Near or in their
homes because they're close to settlements. Communities as well that
are far removed. They're intimidated. Attacked. Shot at. Their
property is destroyed, and authorities do little to stop it. B'Tselem
states firmly that they can do plenty and should:

-- order the army, police and Civil Administration to rigidly enforce
the law; ensure settlers obey it; prosecute those who don't; provide
equal justice to Jews and Arabs equally;

-- have security forces dismantle fences and other physical barriers
that have no business being there;

-- fulfill their obligations as an occupying power by providing
security for the occupied people to keep them safe from settler violence;

-- have IDF commanders order their subordinates to assure Palestinians
rights are observed and enforced;

-- prosecute soldiers who violate the orders;

-- "cancel the engineering components of the SSA plan and remove
secondary fences;" and

-- ensure Palestinians have free access to their land; no need for
advance coordination, and no concerns about facing settler or security
force violence.

B'Tselem goes further as well and calls on "the government of Israel
(to) evacuate all the settlements and return the settlers to Israeli
territory" in accordance with international humanitarian law. Instead,
Israel continues its expansion projects. Oppresses and displaces
indigenous Palestinians. Seizes all parts of Occupied Palestine it
wants for itself, and mocks the rule of law by disobeying it. B'Tselem
and all people of conscience are outraged. An Israeli government
spokesperson wasn't available for comment.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on
Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
lendmanstephen at Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM - 1PM US Central time for
cutting-edge discussions on world and national topics with
distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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