Israeli Oppression of Palestinians

“We may be victims of the Israeli regime, but we are just as proud of our choice to fight for our cause, despite the known cost. We knew where this path would lead us, but our identity, as a people and as individuals, is planted in the struggle, and draws its inspiration from there. Beyond the suffering and daily oppression of the prisoners, the wounded and the killed, we also know the tremendous power that comes from belonging to a resistance movement; the dedication, the love, the small sublime moments that come from the choice to shatter the invisible walls of passivity.

I don’t want to be perceived as a victim, and I won’t give their actions the power to define who I am and what I’ll be. I choose to decide for myself how you will see me. We don’t want you to support us because of some photogenic tears, but because we chose the struggle and our struggle is just. This is the only way that we’ll be able to stop crying one day.” Ahed Tamimi (16 year old Palestinian Activist)

Noura Erakat: Palestinians want freedom, just like anyone would


Table of Contents

The State of Palestinians
Differing Historical Perspectives
Gaza and the Blockade
Great March of Return (Gaza Border Protests)
Occupied Territories (West Bank and East Jerusalem)
Settlements, Forced Evictions and Demolition
Arbitrary Arrests, Detentions and Torture
Israel Detention and Torture of Palestinian Children
Israel State Violence Campaign
Water Access
Denying Freedom of Movement
Occupation Law
Denial of Citizenship
Withholding of Tax Revenue
Israel Colonialism (Settler Colonialism, Apartheid, and Dehumanization)
Israel Rightwing Government Parties


The State of Palestinians

AJ+: 3 Realities of Being Palestinian Today

  • Where do Palestinians live?
    • 7 million Palestinian refugees worldwide
      • ½ live in Jordan
      • 1/3 live in Gaza and West bank
      • 350,000 internally displaced in Israel
      • One in three refugees world wide is Palestinian
    • 2 million Palestinians trapped in an Israeli decade long blockade in Gaza Strip
    • 3 million Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in West Bank and East Jerusalem
    • 1.5 million Palestinians have second class citizenship in Israel
  • Gaza Strip land, seas, and air blockade
    • Imposed in 2007 after Hamas took over Gaza
    • 2 million people trapped in an open air prisonm
      • Without enough water, food, medicine, healthcare, electricity, shelter or ability to leave
      • 70% of Gaza live in refugee camps few miles away from their original homes/villages across border

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  • Occupied Territories
    • West Bank and East Jerusalem are under Israel military occupation
      • Beatings, torture, arbitrary arrests, checkpoints, curfews, checkpoints, restrictions on most aspects of life, etc.
      • Water is controlled by Israel and severely restricted on Palestinians
      • Most Palestinians are denied citizenship and can’t vote in national elections, despite paying taxes
      • Homes are demolished and land continually confiscated for settlements (settler colonialism)
  • Right of Return
    • All Palestinians who left/forced to leave in 1948 banned from coming back/collecting lost property
  • Peaceful protests met with brutal violence
    • “Great March for Return” protest
    • Israel killed 189 Palestinians/wounded over 6000 during recent protests
    • Majority were peaceful protestors including children and clearly marked medics and reporters
  • Prison
    • Palestinians can be detained indefinitely without charge
    • Israel policies allow for torture, even of children
    • Hundreds of minors are detained, often tortured, every year
  • Apartheid laws
    • Apartheid – policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race
    • Palestinians often don’t quality for the same legal protections as Israel
    • Right to protest, labor laws, courts, civil rights, curfews, checkpoints, arbitrary arrests, marriage, etc.
    • over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.” Adalah
  • Lack of Media
    • Despite never making news, Palestinians are collectively protesting every week of the year
    • Majority of protests are peaceful but only violent protests make news

Hufftington Post: 10 Things Palestinians Can’t Do Because Of The Israeli Occupation

1. Palestinians can’t live free of Israeli military presence.

When the Israel-Palestine conflict is referred to as an “occupation,” it’s not figurative — occupied Palestinian territories, specifically the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are constantly patrolled and controlled by the Israeli military. These armed soldiers have been accused of beating, detaining and torturing Palestinians.

Breaking the Silence, an organization of former Israeli soldiers who are critical of the occupation, alleged that Israel Defense Forces intentionally killed civilians during the last war in Gaza. Soldiers enforce checkpoints, blockades, curfews and other restrictions.

2. Palestinians in Gaza can’t control the flow of goods and supplies.

Israel maintains a strict blockade on Gaza that allows it to control what flows in and out of the territory. Israeli officials say the blockade aims to prevent Hamas, a militant political group that took over the territory in 2007, from acquiring weapons ― but the crackdown on imports and exports also extends to food and medicine.

Government documents show that from 2007-2010, the Israeli military calculated the number of calories people in Gaza needed to avoid malnutrition. Critics said the calculation appears to have been used to limit the food supply in Gaza, a charge the Israeli government denied. The limited food supply in Gaza has caused price inflation.

The blockade also restricts shipments of materials, such as wood and steel, that are needed to rebuild structures like schools and hospitals leveled in past wars with Israel. In 2011, a U.N. panel ruled the blockade constituted collective punishment, a violation of international law.

3. Palestinians can’t control their access to water in the occupied territories.

Since the beginning of the military occupation in 1967, Israel has controlled access to water in the occupied Palestinian territories. The majority of the water from the area’s two main sources goes to Israeli areas. There are frequent water shortages in the West Bank and poor water quality in Gaza, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

When the demand for water increases in summer months, settlements are prioritized, Amnesty International found. Palestinians sometimes go days or months with water shortages. Bethlehem residents say they have experienced 40 days without running water ― affecting bathing, drinking, cooking and agriculture. Palestinians often resort to storing water, which can be unsanitary, or using bottled water, which can be expensive.

4. Palestinians can’t access certain life-saving health care.

Due to the blockade, many hospitals in the Gaza Strip lack critical equipment and resources. For cancer treatment, which is hard to come by in Gaza, Palestinians have to request permission from Israel to travel elsewhere ― usually to Israel, where the treatment is available. Israeli officials will only grant travel permits to patients who have “urgent humanitarian and life saving cases,” a representative from the prime minister’s office told Haaretz.

Even if people are granted entry, the process can be long, expensive and bureaucratic. The situation has left many cancer-diagnosed Palestinians, including children, stuck in Gaza. Hospitals there lack resources, and Israel has bombed many of them during past wars.

Israel has denied travel permits to Israel for hundreds of Palestinian women suffering from breast cancer this year, according to Middle East Monitor. In the first 10 months of 2016, 548 Palestinian women applied for travel permits to access breast cancer treatment — 287 were turned down for unspecified reasons, and 125 were rejected due to alleged security concerns. There are over 1,200 women suffering from breast cancer in Gaza, representing just under 20 percent of the cancer patients there.

5. Palestinians can’t live in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel are barred from living in or even visiting the settlements, according to Diana Buttu, former legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The Israeli settler population has grown 21 percent between 2009 and 2015, reaching almost 600,000 people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Additionally, many of the roads between and around settlements are restricted to Israelis, making efficient transit difficult for Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians’ homes have been demolished in order for these settlements to exist.

6. Most Palestinians can’t enjoy the rights of citizenship.

Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are effectively a stateless people, who, for the most part, lack rights to citizenship in any sovereign nation.

Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem are technically eligible for citizenship, but Israel only granted citizenship to about half of Palestinian applicants from 2003 to 2013. And the application process has all but halted over the past three years, according to a Times of Israel report. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can only vote in municipal elections.

For Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank, gaining Israeli citizenship is all but impossible. It’s even difficult for Palestinians with an Israeli parent to gain citizenship. Being married to an Israeli does not grant Palestinians the right to live in Israel.

Under the Law of Return, anyone who is a non-Israeli Jew or is related to a non-Israeli Jew can be almost automatically granted citizenship. Palestinian refugees who fled Israel during the 1948 war are denied that opportunity and can’t reclaim the land and possessions they were forced to leave behind.

This is particularly important when it comes to voting rights in Israel. Israeli politicians and policies directly impact Palestinians’ lives, but without Israeli citizenship, Palestinians cannot vote in national elections. Palestinians from the occupied territories who live in Israel are only allowed to vote in municipal elections.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, a governing body that has some authority in parts of the West Bank, last held presidential elections in 2005.

7. Palestinians don’t have the same due process and civil rights as Israelis.

Palestinians can be imprisoned without charge for a period of up to six months under the Israeli policy of “administrative detention.” After the end of the six months, Israeli officials are allowed to renew the detention indefinitely ― a violation of international law, according to B’Tselem.

Many detained Palestinians are activists, protesters, politicians or journalists, sparking criticism from human rights groups that Israel is attempting to silence dissidents. In April, almost 700 Palestinians were under administrative detention, many loosely accused of being terrorists. Hundreds of minors were also in custody. Some detainees held under administrative detention have been tortured, according to Amnesty International.

While Israelis are required to be brought before a judge within 48 hours of being arrested, Palestinians can wait up to eight days. Palestinians are tried in military courts, while Israeli settlers living in the same territories are tried in civil Israeli courts.

At every stage of the criminal justice process, occupied Palestinians have fewer rights. Their trials can be longer, the threshold for their convictions is lower and they receive longer sentences than Israelis for similar crimes. As of 2011, the conviction rate of Palestinians in these military courts was almost 100 percent.

8. Palestinians can’t travel in, out and through occupied territories without restriction.

Israel has implemented strict travel restrictions in and outside the occupied Palestinian territories for decades, making it difficult for Palestinians to leave, return and travel through the areas.

Military checkpoints and roadblocks are scattered throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, some of which have lines that can add up to five hours to Palestinians’ daily commutes. There are almost 100 permanent checkpoints, according to B’Tselem. Checkpoints have been set up on roads following terrorists attacks, but also after children threw rocks. Occupying soldiers can arbitrarily deny passage through any checkpoint, which can make working, visiting family and planning travel almost impossible. Palestinians have died at checkpoints en route to a hospital on the other side, the U.N. reports.

Entering and leaving occupied Palestinian territories is also difficult for Palestinians. The border with Egypt is rarely open and has a waiting list of 30,000 people. Passage through the northern border is up to Israeli officials’ discretion. Travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is extremely difficult. Traveling through Jordan has become more restrictive this year, as more travel permits are denied. Many of the people who attempt to leave are students or people seeking medical treatment.

Entering occupied territories as a foreigner is also difficult, even for Palestinians who were born or are living abroad. U.S. citizens report that they’ve faced discrimination for attempting to travel to occupied territories, and detention and interrogation are not uncommon. It’s particularly challenging for activists and journalists to enter the territories.

9. Palestinians aren’t equally protected by labor laws.

In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court passed a law allowing Palestinian workers employed by Israeli businesses the protection of Israeli labor laws. But a new regulation passed in September requires Palestinians to pay a deposit to the court upfront before suing employers for labor law violations. The expensive fees and long process makes it harder for Palestinians to challenge mistreatment. Foreign workers, many of whom are Palestinian, hold the majority of working-class and service jobs in the Israeli economy.

Palestinians working for Israeli businesses in the settlements have experienced violations of Israeli employer standards. Human Rights Watch has documented incidents of child labor in settlement businesses as well as other abuses, like denying social benefits and paying below the minimum wage.

10. Palestinians can’t stay out late.

The IDF has, at times, imposed curfews on Palestinians. The curfews are usually put in place on Jewish holidays, like Rosh Hashanah in October, or following clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Israeli officials justify these curfews as necessary security measures, but human rights observers like B’Tselem say curfews constitute collective punishment — a violation of international law. Curfews are often the result of protests of the occupation itself.

This list of obstacles Palestinians face as a result of the occupation is not exhaustive — there are a number of other human rights concerns and restrictions imposed on non-Israelis in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Human rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem have said aspects of the occupation violate or disregard international law and human rights. There is no sign Israel plans to end the occupation any time soon.”

Source: Amnesty International 

Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of Worlds Human Rights

ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Israeli forces unlawfully killed Palestinian civilians, including children, in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories(OPT), and detained thousands of Palestinians from the OPT who opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained rife and was committed with impunity. The authorities continued to promote illegal settlements in the West Bank, including by attempting to retroactively “legalize” settlements built on private Palestinian land, and severely restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement, closing some areas after attacks by Palestinians on Israelis. Israeli forces continued to blockade the Gaza Strip, subjecting its population of 1.9 million to collective punishment, and to demolish homes of Palestinians in the West Bank and of Bedouin villagers in Israel’s Negev/Naqabregion, forcibly evicting residents. The authorities imprisoned conscientious objectors to military service and detained and deported thousands of asylum-seekers from Africa.

BACKGROUND

Israeli-Palestinian relations remained tense. International efforts to revive negotiations failed, with Israel continuing to develop illegal settlements on territory it occupied. In December the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the West Bank. In June the government announced a reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey which saw the two countries restore diplomatic relations. Israel agreed to pay compensation to the families of Turkish citizens killed by Israeli forces when they intercepted the humanitarian aid ship Mavi Marmara in 2010.In September the government of the USA agreed to increase its military aid to Israel to$3.8 billion annually for 10 years from 2019. The year saw stabbing, car-ramming, shooting and other attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in the West Bank and in Israel. The attacks, mostly carried out by Palestinians unaffiliated to armed groups, killed 16 Israelis and one foreign national, mostly civilians. Israeli forces killed 110 Palestinians and two foreign nationals during the year. Some were killed unlawfully while posing no threat to life. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza periodically fired indiscriminate rockets and mortars into Israel, without causing deaths or serious injuries. Israeli forces responded with air strikes and artillery fire, killing three Palestinian civilians, including two children, in Gaza.

FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT – GAZA BLOCKADE AND WEST BANK RESTRICTIONS

Israel’s military blockade of the Gaza Strip entered its 10th year, continuing the collective punishment of Gaza’s entire population. Israeli controls on the movement of people and goods into and from Gaza, combined with Egypt’s almost total closure of the Rafah border crossing and funding shortages, damaged Gaza’s economy and hindered post-conflict reconstruction. Some51,000 people were still displaced from the2014 war, and unexploded ordnance from that conflict continued to cause civilian deaths and injuries. The number of Palestinians leaving Gaza via the Erez Crossing declined during the year, as the Israeli authorities denied, delayed or revoked permits for business people, staff of international organizations, and medical patients and their companions. Israeli forces maintained a “buffer zone” inside Gaza’s border with Israel and used live fire and other weapons against Palestinians who entered or approached it, killing four and wounding others. Israeli forces also fired at Palestinian fishermen in or near the “exclusion zone” that they maintained along Gaza’s coastline. In the West Bank, the Israeli authorities severely restricted the movement of Palestinians on a discriminatory basis, particularly around illegal Israeli settlements and near the fence/wall. In response to Palestinian attacks on Israelis, the military authorities imposed collective punishment, revoking permits of attackers’ family members to work in Israel and closing off entire areas and villages.

ARBITRARY ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS

The authorities detained or continued to imprison thousands of Palestinians from the OPT, holding most of them in prisons in Israel, in violation of international law. Many prisoners’ families, particularly those in Gaza, were not permitted entry to Israel to visit their relatives in prison. The Israeli authorities

Amnesty International Report 2016/17203continued to arrest hundreds of Palestinian children in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. Many were subjected to abuse by Israeli forces including beatings and threats. The authorities held hundreds of Palestinians, including children, under renewable administrative detention orders based on information that they withheld from the detainees and their lawyers. The numbers held under such orders since October 2015 were the highest since 2007;more than 694 were held at the end of April2016 (the last month for which reliable data was available). Some detainees undertook lengthy protest hunger strikes; Palestinian detainee Bilal Kayed remained on hunger strike for 71 days. He was released without charge in December. Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah ended their hunger strike on 22 December after 90 days without food. Three Israeli Jews held as administrative detainees were released. The authorities gave circus performer Mohammed Faisal Abu Sakha two additional six-month administrative detention orders in June and December, based on secret evidence. His first six-month detention order had been issued in December 2015.Palestinians from the West Bank who were charged with protest-related and other offences faced unfair military trials, while Israeli civilian courts trying Palestinians from the Gaza Strip issued harsh sentences, even for minor offences. Mohammed al-Halabi, a Gaza-based humanitarian worker, was denied access to his lawyer and interrogated intensively for three weeks after his arrest in June. He was charged in August with embezzling money from the charity World Vision and passing itto Hamas, the de facto administration in Gaza. World Vision said it had not seen any substantive evidence to support the charge.

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT

Israeli soldiers, police and Israel Security Agency (ISA) officers subjected Palestinian detainees, including children, to torture and other ill-treatment with impunity, particularly on arrest and during interrogation. Reported methods included beatings, slapping, painfuls hackling, sleep deprivation, use of stress positions and threats. Although complaints alleging torture by ISA officers have been handled by the Ministry of Justice since2014, and more than 1,000 had been filed since 2001, no criminal investigations were opened. Complaints that the Israeli police used torture or other ill-treatment against asylum-seekers and members of the Ethiopian community in Israel were also common. The UN Committee against Torture conducted its fifth periodic review of Israel, criticizing continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment, impunity, and the authorities’ failure to proscribe torture as a crime under the law. Israeli officials noted that legislation criminalizing torture was being drafted by the Ministry of Justice, but it was not put before the Knesset (parliament).In September the High Court upheld a2015 law allowing the authorities to force-feed hunger-striking detainees; the law was not used in 2016.

UNLAWFUL KILLINGS

Israeli soldiers, police and security guards killed at least 98 Palestinians from the OPT in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; eight in the Gaza Strip; and three in Israel. In addition, one Palestinian citizen of Israel, responsible for killing three Israelis in Tel Aviv on 1 January, was killed by Israeli police inside Israel. Most of those killed were shot while attacking Israelis or suspected of intending an attack. Some, including children, were shot when they were posing no immediate threat to others’ lives and appeared to be victims of unlawful killings. Extrajudicial executions Some of those killed appeared to have been victims of extrajudicial executions. They included 16-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan, shot dead by Israeli soldiers at a Ramallah checkpoint in February; Mohammed Abu Khalaf, killed in February by Israeli border police in East Jerusalem; and Maram AbuIsmail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim,

204Amnesty International Report 2016/17who were shot dead at Qalandia checkpoint in April by private contractors employed bythe Israeli Ministry of Defence.

EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE

Israeli forces used excessive, sometimes lethal, force against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing 22 and injuring thousands with rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition. Many protesters threw rocks or other projectiles but were posing no threat to the lives of well-protected Israeli soldiers when they were shot.

FREEDOMS OF EXPRESSION,ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY

The authorities used a range of measures to target human rights defenders, in both Israel and the OPT, who criticized Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 July the Knesset passed the so-called Transparency Law, which imposed new reporting requirements on organizations that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governments, almost all of which were human rights groups or other NGOs critical of the Israeli government. Using military orders prohibiting unauthorized demonstrations in the West Bank, the authorities suppressed protests by Palestinians and arrested and prosecuted protesters and human rights defenders. Following the annual “Open Shuhada Street ”protest in Hebron on 26 February, the authorities prosecuted Palestinian human rights defenders Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash on charges that included participating in a march without a permit and entering a closed military zone. They were apparently prosecuted on account of their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Issa Amroalso faced charges arising from his peaceful activism in previous years. For months after he filmed the extra judicial execution of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif by an Israeli soldier on 24 March in Hebron, B’T selem volunteer Imad Abu Shamsiyeh received death threats from Israelis in nearby illegal settlements. Police turned him away and threatened to arrest him when he sought to lodge a complaint in August. Palestinians and foreign nationals assisting human rights NGOs such as Al-Haq with their work in connection with the ICC received death threats. A number of prominent Israeli human rights organizations and their staff, including Breaking the Silence, B’T selem and Amnesty International Israel, were targeted by a government campaign to undermine their work. In May the authorities charged former nuclear whistle-blower and prisoner of conscience Mordechai Vanunu with breaching the severe and arbitrary restrictions the authorities have imposed on his rights to freedom of movement and expression. The case was still pending at the end of the year.

HOUSING RIGHTS – FORCED EVICTIONS AND DEMOLITIONS

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,the Israeli authorities demolished 1,089homes and other structures built without Israeli permits, an unprecedentedly high number of demolitions, forcibly evicting more than 1,593 people. Permits remained virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain.Many of the demolitions were in Bedouin and herding communities which the Israeli authorities planned to transfer against the residents’ wishes. The authorities also collectively punished the families of Palestinians who carried out attacks on Israelis by demolishing or making uninhabitable 25 family homes, there by forcibly evicting their inhabitants.The authorities also demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes and other structures inside Israel that they said were built without permits, mostly in Bedouin villages in theNegev/Naqab region. Many of the villages were officially “unrecognized”.

IMPUNITY

More than two years after the end of the2014 Gaza-Israel conflict, in which some Amnesty International Report 2016/172051,460 Palestinian civilians were killed, many in evidently unlawful attacks including war crimes, the Israeli authorities had indicted only three soldiers for looting and obstructing an investigation. In August the Military Advocate General announced the closure of investigations into 12 incidents, despite evidence that some should be investigated as war crimes. Israel’s military investigations were not independent or impartial, and failed to deliver justice. In a rare move, the Israeli military investigated, indicted and tried Elor Azaria, a soldier whose extrajudicial execution by shooting of a wounded Palestinian in Hebron was captured on film. The verdict in his case was expected to be delivered in January2017. Most members of the Israeli forces who committed unlawful killings of Palestinians faced no repercussions. The Israeli army, Ministry of Justice and police also did not investigate, failed to investigate adequately, or closed investigations into cases of alleged unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces in both Israel and the OPT. The authorities prosecuted several Jewish settlers for carrying out lethal attacks on Palestinians. In January, they charged two Israelis with committing an arson attack in July 2015 that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family, including a child aged 18months. In May, a Jerusalem court sentenced Yosef Ben David to life imprisonment plus 20 years after convicting him of the abduction and murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July 2014.The prosecutor of the ICC continued her preliminary examination of allegations of crimes under international law carried out by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups since 13 June 2014. The Israeli government allowed an ICC delegation to visit Israel and the West Bank in October.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

There were new reports of violence against women, particularly within Palestinian communities in Israel. Activists reported that at least 21 women were killed by partners or family members during the year. Some women were reportedly killed by abusive partners after police failed to afford them adequate protection.

REFUGEES AND ASYLUM-SEEKERS

The authorities continued to deny asylum-seekers, more than 90% of whom were from Eritrea or Sudan, access to a fair and prompt refugee status determination process. More than 3,250 asylum-seekers were held at the Holot detention facility and at Saharonim Prison in the Negev/Naqab desert at the end of the year. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Interior, there were more than37,000 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers in Israel as of October 2016. More than 18,900 asylum claims were still pending as of October 2016.In February the Knesset passed the fourth version of an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, allowing the authorities to detain asylum-seekers for up to one year without charge. Conditions in detention centres were reported to be severely deficient due to inadequate food and medical care, poor sanitation and overcrowding. In September, a custody appeals tribunal in Jerusalem declared the government’s policy of automatically rejecting the asylum requests of Eritrean army deserters invalid, although thousands had been rejected on that basis. The authorities granted asylum to a Sudanese national for the first time in June but continued to press thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers ,including those detained at Holot, to leave Israel “voluntarily”. More than 2,500 were reported to have agreed to depart “voluntarily” by the end of the year. The government refused to disclose details of its reported agreements with Rwandan and Ugandan authorities, as to whether they included guarantees that asylum-seekers who left Israel voluntarily would not be at real risk of serious human rights violations, thus violating the prohibition of refoulement.

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS

At least five conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned. They included Tair Kaminer, who was held for almost six months, longer than any woman conscientious objector previously

Newsweek: Ahed Tamimi’s Father: We Will Continue To Resist Israel’s Occupation As A Family

“The problems we face in Nabi Saleh today started several years ago, when Israel stole a large part of our village’s land to establish the illegal Jewish settlement of Halamish. The settlers then took our fresh water spring for their own use, preventing us from accessing it. We have refused to accept these abuses of our rights, and so every Friday for the last five years, we gather to march in protest.

Under Israel’s now 50-year-old military occupation over Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, we have no rights, including the right to protest peacefully. And so the Israeli army meets our marches, which frequently include Israelis and internationals, with tear gas, stun grenades, “skunk water,” and rubber coated steel bullets. Often, people are injured. Sometimes, they are killed.

Earlier this year, a 20-year-old young man was shot in the stomach and killed during a demonstration in support of Palestinians on hunger strike inside Israeli prisons. Five years ago, my wife’s brother Rushdie was shot in the back and killed by a soldier during a demonstration against Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Two years later, on the anniversary of his death, my wife was shot in the leg. Nariman has also developed asthma as a result of breathing tear gas.

Ahed is a strong, fearless girl, and I am proud of my daughter’s steadfastness, but when I saw her sitting in the Israeli military court I felt helpless and scared for her. I am a parent and everything I do is to protect my children and to make sure they can live happily and freely one day. No matter what I believe about perseverance and pride, in the end, I’m a father and it pains me greatly to see my beautiful child imprisoned in a military court that sees and treats Palestinians as less than human.

Each year, Israel imprisons hundreds of Palestinian children like Ahed in its military court system. As human rights groups like UNICEF have documented, Palestinian children are subject to systematic abuse by the Israeli army. Like my Ahed, they are often taken from their homes in the middle of the night by armed soldiers, torn from their beds and parents’ arms. They suffer threats and physical violence.

They are interrogated without a lawyer or their parents present, and pressured to sign confessions in Hebrew, which most don’t understand. Even members of the U.S. Congress recognize the seriousness of the problem and are currently sponsoring a bill urging the U.S. government to make sure the aid it gives to Israel isn’t used to abuse the rights of Palestinian children.

Israel’s military occupation is in contrast to all that is just and humane, from the abuse of our children to the abuse of our land. As parents, we try to shelter our children against the occupation and all its violence, inequality, and lack of freedom, but there is only so much we can do to protect them.

But despite the traumatic moments that we experience, I will always believe in justice and in our right to continue our peaceful resistance against Israel’s brutal military rule and theft of our land. We will continue to resist as a family, and as a community. Together we carry the torch of freedom and equality towards our dream of a better life for our children.”

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Differing Historical Perspectives

Between Israel and Palestinians

VOX: History of Israel/Palestine Conflict

1948

  • Birth of Israel
    • 750,000 Palestinians left on their own accord out of fear of war
    • Did not want to come back for many reasons like the land was useless
  • Nakba, Great catastrophe
    • 750,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed from villages
    • Premeditated attacked months before any invading army
    • 530 villages destroyed, 13,000 Palestinians killed
  • Despite which narrative is true
    • Palestinian refugees are allowed to return under international law
    • UN Resolution 194 adopted in December 1948
      • States that Palestinian refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”

Further Research

Articles

Aljazeera: The Nakba did not start or end in 1948

Aljazeera: Interactive Guide to Nakba

The Guardian: The Idea of Israel and My Promised Land

Mondoweiss: Examining ‘Ten Myths about Israel’, by Ilan Pappe

Wikipedia: New Historians

Books

Videos

Ilan Pappé: The Myth of Israel

Six-Day War

Brief war fought between 5 and 10 June 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.  Due to Egypt closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, Israeli launched “pre-emptive” strikes against Egypt capturing the Gaza Strip and the Sinai and against Jordan capturing West Bank and East Jerusalem and against Syria capturing the Golan Heights.  Israel killed over 20,000 Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian troops and displaced 300,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and about 100,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights.  Hundreds of villages in the West Bank were destroyed and 100s of PAlestinian homes were bulldozed in Jerusalem.  Israel expanded its territory by 200% taking over 100% of Palestine and creating the current situation today, where Israel controls under a military occupation a settler colonialism all Palestinain land, except for Gaza which it its currenlty blockading.

  • Israeli persepctive
    • The closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping was an act of war and Israel needed to preemptive strike everyone before they invaded.
  • Non Israeli Perspective
    • The attack wasn’t a premptive strike but an invasion to capture all of Palestine and ethnically cleanse much of the captured terroritory.  There have benn Israeli military and political leaders who later admitted that they had not, in fact, genuinely feared attack, and had no doubt about Israel’s vast military superiority over its neighbors.

Further Research

Wikipedia: Controversies relating to the Six-Day War

Haaretz: Israelis Are Still Living the Six-Day War Myth

Right to Exist

  • Historic fight
    • Israel is fighting for its survival against forces that want to completely destroy it
  • Zero sum game
    • Israel uses “right to exist” more as a justification to oppress Palestinian right to exist

Furthe Research

Articles

Mondoweiss: Anti-Palestinian tropes

People to follow

Peace agreements

  • Israel view
    • Israel has made reasonable offers numerous times but Palestinians are committed to keep on fighting
  • Palestinians view
    • Israel won’t make real compromises needed for peace like 1967 borders and right of return
    • A 2017 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll in the Palestinian territories revealed that Hamas violence and rhetoric against Israelis are unpopular and that a majority of Palestinians would rather Hamas “accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”

Palestinian resistance

  • Israeli View
    • Palestinian resistance are violent terrorists aimed at destroying Israel
  • Palestinian View
    • Mixture of peaceful and violent resistance against Israel occupation and oppression

Further Research

Julia Bacha: Pay Attention to Nonviolent Palestinian Movements

Addtional Differing Historic Perspectives

Mondoweiss: Examining ‘Ten Myths about Israel’, by Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappé: Ten Myths About Israel

The Role of the New Israel Historians Opening Up Other Narratives

“The New Historians are a loosely defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel’s role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace…Much of the primary source material used by the group comes from Israeli government papers that were newly available as a result of being declassified thirty years after the founding of Israel.  The perception of a new historiographical current emerged with the publications of four scholars in the 1980s: Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim and Simha Flapan. Subsequently, many other historians and historical sociologists, among them Tom Segev, Hillel Cohen, Baruch Kimmerling, Joel Migdal, Idit Zertal and Shlomo Sand have been identified with the movement…Avi Shlaim described the New Historians’ differences from what he termed the “official history” in the following terms. According to Shlaim:

  • The official version said that Britain tried to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state; the New Historians claimed that it tried to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state
  • The official version said that the Palestinians fled their homes of their own free will; the New Historians said that the refugees were chased out or expelled
  • The official version said that the balance of power was in favour of the Arabs; the New Historians said that Israel had the advantage both in manpower and in arms
  • The official version said that the Arabs had a coordinated plan to destroy Israel; the New Historians said that the Arabs were divided
  • The official version said that Arab intransigence prevented peace; the New Historians said that Israel is primarily to blame for the “dead end”.[6]

Pappé suggests that the Zionist leaders intended to displace most Palestinian Arabs; Morris believes the displacement happened in the heat of war. According to the New Historians, Israel and Arab countries each have their share of responsibility for the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Palestinian plight.

Influence on traditional Israeli historical narrative and public opinion

Michal Ben-Josef Hirsch argues that, prior to the advent of the New Historians, “Israelis held to a one-sided historical narrative of the circumstances leading to the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and that any other counter-narratives were taboo.” According to Ben-Josef Hirsch, the conclusions of the New Historians, and the wide-ranging debate that they provoked, ended that taboo and changed the way in which the Palestinian refugee problem and its causes were viewed in Israel. Ben-Josef Hirsch says that the traditional Israeli narrative, that Arabs were responsible for the exodus of the Palestinians, held from 1948 to the late 1990s. She says that the arguments of the New Historians significantly challenged that narrative, leading to a broad debate both in academia and in the wider public discourse, including journalists and columnists, politicians, public figures, and the general public.

Ben-Josef Hirsch believes that a significant change has occurred in how the Palestinian refugee issue is viewed in Israeli society since the late 1990s, with a more complex narrative being more accepted; it recognizes there were instances where Israeli forces expelled Palestinians with the knowledge and authorization of the Israeli leadership. Ben-Josef Hirsch attributes that change to the work of the New Historians and the resulting debate.”  Wikipedia: New Historians

Ilan Pappe – Ten Myths About Israel

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Gaza Under the Blockade

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  • Gaza Strip land, seas, and air blockade
    • Imposed in 2007 after Hamas took over Gaza
    • 2 million people trapped in an open air prisonm
      • Without enough water, food, medicine, healthcare, electricity, shelter or ability to leave
      • 70% of Gaza live in refugee camps few miles away from their original homes/villages across border

Vox: What is Gaza?

Gaza is a densely populated strip of land that is mostly surrounded by Israel and peopled almost exclusively by Palestinians. Israel used to have a military presence, but withdrew unilaterally in 2005. It’s currently under Israeli blockade.

The sporadic rocket fire that’s hit Israel from there since its pullback has strengthened Israeli hawks’ political position, as they have long argued that any Palestinian state would end up serving as a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

Egypt controlled Gaza until 1967, when Israel occupied it (along with the West Bank) in the Six-Day War. Until 2005, Israeli military authorities controlled Gaza in the same way they control the West Bank, and Jews were permitted to settle there. In 2005, then–Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pulled out Israeli troops and settlers unilaterally.

Gaza is governed by the Islamist group Hamas, which formed in 1987 as a militant “resistance” group against Israel and won political power in a 2006 US-based election. Hamas’s takeover of Gaza prompted an Israeli blockade of the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, on the grounds that Hamas could use those goods to make weapons to be used against Israel. Israel has eased the blockade over time, but the cutoff of basic supplies like fuel still does significant humanitarian harm by cutting off access to electricity, food, and medicine.

Hamas and other Gaza-based militants have fired thousands of rockets from the territory at Israeli targets. Israel has launched a number of military operations in Gaza, including an air campaign and ground invasion in late 2008 and early 2009, a major bombing campaign in 2012, and another air/ground assault in the summer of 2014.

IMEU: By the Numbers: Refugees in Gaza

Wikipedia: Gaza Strip

“The Gaza Strip, or simply Gaza, is a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Gaza, together with the West Bank, constitute the Palestinian territories claimed by the Palestinians as the State of Palestine. The territories of Gaza and the West Bank are separated from each other by Israeli territory. Both fall under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, but Gaza has since June 2007 been governed by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic organization which came to power in free elections in 2006. It has been placed under an Israeli and U.S.-led international economic and political boycott from that time onwards.

The territory is 41 kilometers (25 mi) long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi). With around 1.85 million Palestinians  on some 362 square kilometers, Gaza ranks as the 3rd most densely populated polity in the world.  An extensive Israeli buffer zone within the Strip renders much land off-limits to Gaza’s Palestinians. Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% (2014 est.), the 13th highest in the world, and is often referred to as overcrowded.  The population is expected to increase to 2.1 million in 2020. By that time, Gaza may be rendered unliveable, if present trends continue. Due to the Israeli and Egyptian border closures and the Israeli sea and air blockade, the population is not free to leave or enter the Gaza Strip, nor allowed to freely import or export goods. Sunni Muslims make up the predominant part of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza, the United Nations, international human rights organisations, and the majority of governments and legal commentators consider the territory to be still occupied by Israel, supported by additional restrictions placed on Gaza by Egypt. Israel maintains direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza: it controls Gaza’s air and maritime space, and six of Gaza’s seven land crossings. It reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory. Gaza is dependent on Israel for its water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities.

When Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, 2006, Palestinian political party Fatah refused to join the proposed coalition, until a short-lived unity government agreement was brokered by Saudi Arabia. When this collapsed under joint Israeli and United States pressure, the Palestinian Authority instituted a non-Hamas government in the West Bank while Hamas formed a government on its own in Gaza.  Further economic sanctions were imposed by Israel and the European Quartet against Hamas. A brief civil war between the two groups had broken out in Gaza when, apparently under a U.S.-backed plan, Fatah contested Hamas’s administration. Hamas emerged the victor and expelled Fatah-allied officials and members of the PA’s security apparatus from the Strip,and has remained the sole governing power in Gaza since that date.

Now World: Why are Palestinians Protesting in Gaza

Amnesty International: Lives of Gaza’s critically ill hanging in the balance

“This week (13 July 2017) the UN  warned that conditions in the Gaza Strip  have passed the threshold of “unliveable”, 10 years since Israel’s brutal land, sea and air blockade was first imposed. With the electricity supply drastically slashed and unemployment skyrocketing to 60%, many aspects of life have rapidly deteriorated even faster than originally projected. Gaza’s health system in particular has been on the brink of collapse for years.”

Middle East Monitor: Gaza cancer patients complain about Israeli restrictions on their treatment

“While the world increases its efforts to spread awareness about cancer and celebrate new ways to treat it, cancer patients in Gaza have complained about the restrictions placed by Israel on their treatment. In a statement issued on Sunday, a group of patients said that they have been involved in a “humanitarian battle” with the occupation authorities to get the medicines that they need for their treatment to be effective. “This has been an ongoing struggle for ten years,” they pointed out.

The statement focused on patients with breast cancer. Statistics issued by the National Centre for Monitoring Cancer in Gaza, note that there are 1,283 breast cancer patents in the besieged territory at the moment. That accounts for around 18 per cent of all cancer patients in Gaza.

In total, 748 patients applied to the Israeli occupation authorities in 2015 for a travel permit to receive treatment in Jerusalem or West Bank hospitals. Of these, the Israelis deferred 293 applications, rejected 74 and ignored 219. Since the start of this year, 548 breast cancer patients have applied for travel permits, with 287 rejected for no reason and 125 others turned down for alleged “security” reasons.

Palestinian breast cancer patients have, in their statement, repeated their belief that they have a right to receive proper treatment like other women around the world. They stressed that the Israeli measures against them are a “flagrant violation” of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans the punishment of individuals for crimes they did not commit personally, as well collective punishment.

Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are ill-equipped to cope with the requirements of cancer patients. Furthermore, there is a severe shortage of all kinds of medicines, not just those which are essential for treating cancer.

2014 The Israel-Gaza Crisis Explained

Vice: Fallout in Gaza: Six Months On

During the devastating 50-day war in Israel and Gaza in 2014, around 18,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving around 120,000 residents homeless.


Great March of Return

Guardian: UN says Israel’s killings at Gaza protests may amount to war crimes

UN investigators have accused Israeli soldiers of intentionally firing on civilians and said they may have committed war crimes in their lethal response to Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza.

The independent Commission of Inquiry, set up last year by the UN’s human rights council, said Israeli forces killed 189 people and shot more than 6,100 others with live ammunition near the fence that divides the two territories.

The panel said in a statement that it had found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognisable as such”.

Thirty-five of those killed were children, three were clearly identifiable paramedics and two were clearly marked journalists, the report said.

Why Are Palestinians Protesting In Gaza? | NowThis World

Washington Post: A year after the Great March of Return, Palestinians are still fighting for freedom

“As we approach the first anniversary of the Great March of Return, the factors that motivated us to protest have not changed. Our food is running out. Approximately 97 percent of our fresh water is undrinkable and facilities for treating water are limited. Cancer patients are forced to delay life-saving treatments after being denied travel permits by Israel. Gaza receives only a few hours of electricity each day, and our economy is in shambles. Tragically, young Palestinians — who have the highest unemployment rate in the world — feel there is no hope, and are deprived of the opportunity to work, find housing and set the groundwork to marry and start families. A U.N. report has found that Gaza may be uninhabitable by 2020, which is just months away.”

Further Research

Washington Post: A year after the Great March of Return, Palestinians are still fighting for freedom

AFOPA: Documenting War Crimes

UN Commission of Inquiry – MANDATE

UN Commission of Inquiry – REPORT

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Occupied Territories
(West Bank and East Jerusalem)

  • Occupied Territories
    • West Bank and East Jerusalem are under Israel military occupation
      • Beatings, torture, arbitrary arrests, checkpoints, curfews, checkpoints, restrictions on most aspects of life, etc.
      • Water is controlled by Israel and severely restricted on Palestinians
      • Most Palestinians are denied citizenship and can’t vote in national elections, despite paying taxes
      • Homes are demolished and land continually confiscated for settlements (settler colonialism)

IMEU: What are the Occupied Territories?

The Occupied Territories are the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. “Occupied Palestinian Territories” or simply “Palestinian territories” is sometimes used to refer to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, excluding the (Syrian) Golan Heights.

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched what it claimed to be a preemptive attack on Egypt, citing Egypt’s announced closure of the Straits of Tiran (the opening from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea) to Israeli shipping, and other provocations. Israeli military and political leaders later admitted that they had not, in fact, genuinely feared attack, and had no doubt about Israel’s vast military superiority over its neighbors.

By the time fighting ended six days later, Israel had seized Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip (which had been under Egyptian administration since 1948), the West Bank (which had been under Jordanian rule since 1948), and Syria’s Golan Heights. (The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt after the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.)

“Occupation” is a legal status in international law, not just a description of the forceful means by which Israel has controlled the territories it seized in 1967. Although Israeli diplomats contest the designation of the territories as “occupied,” and describe them as merely “administered” by Israel, there is no such status in international law.

All competent legal authorities – including the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Security Council and Israel’s own Supreme Court — recognize the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights as occupied territories.

International law imposes obligations and limitations on the actions of an occupying power, and the Charter of the United Nations bars acquisition of territory by war. Thus Israel has never had any legal rights of sovereignty over any of the lands it took in 1967, and never had any right to settle its own citizens there.

The Gaza Strip continues to be “occupied” notwithstanding Israel’s withdrawal of settlers and redeployment of troops outside the Strip in 2005. Effective control is the measure of “occupation” in international law, and Israel clearly continues to control the coast, borders and airspace of the Strip, claims the right to reinvade at will, and provides Gazans their water, electricity, and other vital services.

Wikipedia: Israeli-occupied territories

The Israeli-occupied territories refers to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 and sometimes also to areas of Southern Lebanon, where Israeli military was notably present to support local Lebanese militias during the civil war and after it. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-annexed West Bank. The first use of the term ‘territories occupied’ was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. In addition to the territories occupied following the Six-Day War, Israel also occupied portions of Southern Lebanon following the 1982 Lebanon War, and maintained a military presence there until withdrawing in 2000.

From 1967 to 1981, the four areas were governed under the Israeli Military Governorate, referred to by the UN as occupied Arab territories.[1] The IMG was dissolved in 1981, after the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. In the process, Israel handed the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, the Golan Heights was incorporated into the Northern District by the Golan Heights Law, and West Bank continued to be administrated via the Israeli Civil Administration, which the UN continued to refer to as the occupied Arab territories.[2] Despite dissolving the military government, in line with Egyptian demands, the term Occupied Arab territories had remained in use, referring to the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights. From 1999 to early 2013, the term Palestinian territories, Occupied became utilized to refer to territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice,[3] the UN General Assembly[4] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power”.[5] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israel’s occupation “an affront to international law.”[6] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.[7] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that international law applies to Israel’s presence in the West Bank.[8] Israeli governments have preferred the term “disputed territories” in the case of the West Bank.[9][10] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[11]

Israel asserts that since the disengagement of Israel from Gaza in 2005, Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip.[12] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, as of 2012 it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[13] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[14][15][16][17]

Amnety International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories: Human Rights Concerns

Amnesty International’s concerns are based on international standards and applied equally within the proper legal framework. The legal framework is defined by who retains jurisdiction, or effective control, over an area and the circumstances or situation at the time of the human rights violation. Amnesty’s concerns within Israel-proper, the area inside the 1949 (W. Bank/E. Jerusalem) and 1951 (Gaza Strip) armistice lines (also called the ‘1967 borders’) include but are not limited to, ill-treatment and torture of detainees, excessive use of force, the detention of conscientious objectors, and forced evictions and home demolitions within ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin villages.

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) is in its fifth decade and the undercurrent of violence and inherent abuses of fundamental human rights and disregard for international law inherent in any long-standing military occupation is presented by both sides. Both Israeli and Palestinian civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence in the region.

Human rights violations by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have included, but are not limited to, home demolitions and the forced eviction of Palestinian families; punitive arrests, unfair trials, ill-treatment and torture of detainees and the use of excessive or lethal force to subdue nonviolent demonstrations as well as the use of restrictive legal means. In contravention of international law, Israel continues to build parts of the wall/fence in the OPT, expand settlements and use draconian restrictions on the movement of Palestinians with some 600 roadblocks and checkpoints. Amnesty International is also concerned about discriminatory policies affecting access to water for Palestinians.

In areas under control of the Palestinian Authority, concerns include, but are not limited to, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, torture and the use of administrative detention to jail individuals without charge or trial. Some detainees also do not receive adequate medical attention.

A ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip in effect since 2009 has been generally respected. The Gaza Strip has been under increasing restrictions since 2005, when Israel unilaterally pulled troops and settlers out of the strip. June 2007, restrictions tightened to an almost air-tight blockade, deepening the hardship there and virtually imprisoning the entire population of 1.6 million.

Israel maintains effective control over Gaza, controlling all but one of the crossings into the Gaza Strip, the airspace, territorial waters, telecommunications and the population registry which determines who is allowed to leave or enter Gaza. Therefore, Israel is still considered the occupying power and is responsible for the welfare of the inhabitants in the strip under international humanitarian law.

Israeli authorities rejected or delayed hundreds of permit applications to leave Gaza by Palestinians requiring specialist medical treatment; a few died as a result. Most of Gaza’s inhabitants depend on international aid, which is severely hampered by the blockade. In May 2010, Israeli forces killed nine men aboard an aid flotilla in international waters that was challenging the blockade’s legality.

Amnesty also has concerns about the indiscriminate rocket fire into southern Israel by armed Palestinian groups. Palestinian militants fired a rocket into Israel that hit a school bus, killing a 16 year old boy April 2011.

Following hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip Dec. 2008 – Jan. 2009, Hamas has failed to conduct any domestic investigation into the serious allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by their forces during the conflict and Israel’s investigations have been inadequate – failing to meet international standards.

Political Situation

Prospects for a just and durable resolution to the conflict are remote despite the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized the State of Israel in 1988 and Israel allowed the Palestinian leadership to return to the Occupied Territories under the Oslo Accords in 1994. Israel continues to violate international law by expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority appears to have given up on direct negotiations, planning to go directly to the United Nations to seek official recognition of the State of Palestine within the ‘1967 borders’ against the wishes of the Israeli government.

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Settlements, Forced Evictions and Demolition

AJ+ Israeli Settlements Explained

Wikipedia: Israeli Settlements

After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel took control over the Palestinian territories: the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, along with Syrian territory, the Golan Heights.   Israel immediately begin to create Jewish settlements in these territories.  Many Israelis moved to these settlements for a number of reasons such as their religious and/or political views. And because the Israeli government subsidized these settlements, many were drawn to the area because it was inexpensive to live there.  Settlements range in character from farming communities and frontier villages to urban suburbs and neighborhoods.

The international community considers the settlements in occupied territory to be illegal and the United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In 2005, all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip were dismantled.  But in the West Bank, however, Israel continues to expand its remaining settlements as well as settling new areas, despite pressure from the international community to desist.

In December, 2016, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 confirmed the illegality of the settlement enterprise and renders those Israeli citizens involved in settling the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits throughout the world.

NPR: Settlements Complicate Efforts for a Two-State Solution

When Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, no Israeli citizens had lived in the territory for nearly two decades, since an earlier war. But in 1968, a small group of religious Jews rented rooms at the Park Hotel in Hebron for Passover, saying they wanted to be near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites in Judaism (as well as Islam and Christianity).

The Israeli government reluctantly allowed them to stay “temporarily.” From that beginning, hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews now reside in the West Bank, citing religion, history and Israel’s security among their reasons for being there.

But the Palestinians, along with the rest of the world, see their presence as one of the key obstacles to a peace agreement and the creation of a Palestinian state.

The issue returned to the headlines when the United Nations Security Council recently voted 14 to 0 to condemn Israeli settlements. The United States, which often vetoes resolutions critical of Israel, abstained and allowed the resolution to pass.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded angrily, unleashing a stream of accusations against the Obama administration. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the U.S. position Wednesday in a lengthy speech that repeatedly admonished Israel over settlements.

Here are seven key things to know about the settlements:

1. Settlements are growing rapidly

The term “settlements” may conjure up images of small encampments or temporary housing, and many have started that way. But they now include large subdivisions, even sizable cities, with manicured lawns and streets full of middle-class villas often set on arid hilltops. Israel is constantly building new homes and offers financial incentives for Israelis to live in the West Bank.

When the Israelis and Palestinians first began peace talks after a 1993 interim agreement, the West Bank settlers numbered a little over 100,000. Today they total around 400,000 and live in about 130 separate settlements (this doesn’t include East Jerusalem, which we’ll address in a moment).

They have grown under every Israeli government over the past half-century despite consistent international opposition. Hard-line leaders like Netanyahu have actively supported them. Moderates and liberals have also allowed settlements to expand, though usually at a slower rate. The settler movement is a powerful political force, and any prime minister who takes it on risks the collapse of his government.

You can click here to see data on the settlements and a detailed map from Peace Now, an Israeli group that is opposed to settlements and closely monitors them.

2. Settlements complicate efforts for a two-state solution

Critics of settlements say they’ve intentionally been established in every corner of the West Bank, giving the Israeli military a reason to be present throughout the territory and making it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. The settlement locations and the roads that connect them make Palestinian movement difficult.

The settlements are just one of many obstacles to a peace deal. Drawing boundaries, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees, and myriad security questions — including terrorism — are equally challenging, if not more so. And as the settlements grow, it will be increasingly difficult to remove a large number of them, a tactic known as “creating facts on the ground.”

3. The distinction between East Jerusalem and the West Bank

Shortly after the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank and had a population that was then entirely Palestinian. Israel declared the entire city to be Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital.

No other country recognizes Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, with the United States and others saying the city’s status must be determined in negotiations. This is why the U.S. and other countries have never moved their embassies to Jerusalem. Most are in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, claim the eastern part of the city as their future capital.

Around 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem. Combined with the roughly 400,000 settlers in the West Bank, about 600,000 Israelis now live beyond the country’s 1967 borders. That’s nearly 10 percent of Israel’s 6.3 million Jewish citizens.

While the Israelis tend to speak of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as two separate entities, the Palestinians regard them as a single body — the occupied West Bank.

4. What does Israel say about settlements?

The settlers and their supporters cite the Jewish Bible, thousands of years of Jewish history, and Israel’s need for “strategic depth” as reasons for living in the West Bank.

They also note that Israel took the territory from Jordan, which has since relinquished its claim to the West Bank. Therefore, the settlers argue, there is no legal sovereign in the territory.

However, no country, not even Israel, considers West Bank settlements to be sovereign Israeli territory. As we noted, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and administers it as part of Israel. But Israel has never annexed any other part of the West Bank.

The settlers want to be formally incorporated into Israel, but that would ignite a major controversy. For now, Israel regards the West Bank as “disputed” territory that has been under the Israeli military since the 1967 war.

5. How about the Palestinians?

From some Palestinian cities, there are clear views of Israeli settlements — and new construction — on nearby hillsides. And in most settlement neighborhoods, there are wide areas of empty hillside closed to Palestinians, which Israel says are necessary buffers for security.

Palestinians see them as visual proof that their sought-after independent state is being taken from them. Palestinian leaders have opposed peace talks in recent years while, as they see it, Israel is building on land that is part of those talks.

6. Has Israel ever dismantled settlements?

Yes, on a few occasions, most notably in 2005, when it removed all 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip. Israel decided these small, isolated settlements were too difficult to defend in a territory where the Jewish residents accounted for less than 1 percent of the population.

The evacuation of the settlements was deeply divisive within Israel, and Israel’s security forces had to drag some settlers from their homes kicking and screaming. The episode demonstrated that Israel could remove settlers, but it also showed how much friction it creates inside Israel.

7. What are the proposed solutions?

Kerry on Wednesday outlined the general approach: land swaps. Under this scenario, the largest Jewish settlements, which are near the boundary with Israel, would formally become Israeli territory. In exchange, Israel would turn over an equal amount of its current land that would become part of a Palestinian state.

In addition, settlements deep in the West Bank, far from Israel, would be disbanded. It would be a difficult political move for an Israeli prime minister, but it would also be difficult for a Palestinian leader to accept a peace deal without removing settlements.

Settlement Population stats

West Bank

  • Almost 400,000 Israeli citizens lived in the 121 officially recognised Israeli settlements in the West Bank

East Jerusalem

  • Over 300,000 Israeli citizens (both Jewish citizens of Israel and Arab citizens of Israel) lived in settlements in East Jerusalem
  • A number of Palestinian non-Israeli citizens (as opposed to Arab citizens of Israel) also reside in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem

Golan Heights

  • over 20,000 Israeli citizens lived in settlements in the Golan Heights

Vox Israeli Settlements, Explained

Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of Worlds Human Rights

HOUSING RIGHTS – FORCED EVICTIONS AND DEMOLITIONS

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,the Israeli authorities demolished 1,089 homes and other structures built without Israeli permits, an unprecedentedly high number of demolitions, forcibly evicting more than 1,593 people. Permits remained virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain.Many of the demolitions were in Bedouin and herding communities which the Israeli authorities planned to transfer against the residents’ wishes. The authorities also collectively punished the families of Palestinians who carried out attacks on Israelis by demolishing or making uninhabitable 25 family homes, there by forcibly evicting their inhabitants.The authorities also demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes and other structures inside Israel that they said were built without permits, mostly in Bedouin villages in theNegev/Naqab region. Many of the villages were officially “unrecognized”.

Haaretz: How the Israeli Army Takes Palestinian Land and Hands It to Settlers

45 settlements have been built on Palestinian land requisitioned for military purposes. A new study explains how

Dror Etkes, a researcher of Israel’s settlement policy, wants, as usual, to put things in order. In a new study he will be publishing this week, he focuses on the history of orders to seize Palestinian land, issued by generations of army commanders in the West Bank (not including the part that was annexed to Jerusalem). More than 1,150 seizure orders have been issued from 1969 to the present. After subtracting those that were revoked or that overlap, it turns out that this particular trick enabled Israel to take over more than 100,000 dunams (25,000 acres) of Palestinian land. More millions of dunams of Palestinian land have been stolen in other ways, which Etkes has been researching too.

The declared purpose for such seizure is security and military needs. On the website of the Military Advocate General, the body that advises the army on legal issues, this goal is stressed. Etkes quotes at length from this source in his study: In accordance with the laws of belligerent occupation detailed in customary international law, an occupying power is prohibited from confiscating the private property of a local population in an area under its belligerent occupation. [But] the commander of the area has the authority to take possession of private land if there is a military need. … Exercising this authority does not invalidate landowners’ rights of possession, although they are temporarily prevented from holding and using the land. … The word temporary is used, because the occupation is meant to be temporary, and because military needs may change.

Surprise surprise. Some 40 percent of the area officially seized for military and security needs have been allocated over the years to settlements (a quarter of the total area is indeed used for military purposes and another quarter is occupied by the separation barrier). The governments of the Alignment, the Labor Party’s predecessor, started this tradition. They allocated 6,280 dunams to settlements – 28 percent of the approximately 22,000 dunams that have been seized for military use in those years. As expected, the rise of Likud to power has seen a huge spike in allocation to settlements of land that was originally seized for military use. From Likud’s victory in May 1977 to the end of 1979, more than 31,000 dunams were seized. Out of this total, 23,000 were allocated to settlements – that is, 73 percent.

If we thought this method was quashed by the High Court of Justice ruling in the case of the settlement of Elon Moreh – which was handed down in October 1979 and placed restrictions on the authority of an Israeli military commander in the West Bank to seize land for settlement construction – it turns out we were wrong. Because for three years, commanders continued under Likud to issue seizure orders for security needs that benefited the settlements: Out of some 11,000 dunams seized, 7,040 dunams were given to 12 new settlements. (The dates on some of the orders are unclear; therefore they are not included in the breakdown above that Etkes produced at Haaretz’s request. But the goal of those orders, too, is clear: settlement. And they apply to areas amounting to about 2,000 dunams).

Following the High Court ruling on Elon Moreh, Israel found a surer method of robbery: declaring Palestinian land to be state land (that is, for Jews), in a very lenient interpretation of an Ottoman law on the matter. The raw material from Etkes’ research is digital maps and layers of data given to him by the Civil Administration (through gritted teeth) by dint of the Freedom of Information Law. According to this information, Etkes estimates that since the 1980s, Israel has declared some 750,000 dunams as state land, out of approximately 5.7 million dunams in the West Bank. (Reminder: This column does not recognize the legality of the Israeli definition of Palestinian land as state land, and even less the legality of their transfer to Jews).

As usual, Etkes delved deeply into the takeover of Palestinian land. Out of some 40,000 dunams allocated to 45 settlements in only 73 seizure orders, only about 43 percent are in use for built-up areas and agriculture. The rest – 57 percent – stands empty. Imagine an Israeli peace government in 1994 declaring that as a first confidence-building step, any piece of land seized for settlements on which there is no construction would be returned to their legal owners (Palestinian local councils, towns and individuals). By the way, 45 percent of all Palestinian lands seized by these orders (including for purely military purposes) is not in use. It is left for us to conclude that the main idea is for Palestinians not to be able to cultivate their lands, build on them, pasture their animals, hike and picnic in them.

Until 1989, such orders did not have an expiration date, only a date when they go into effect. This indefiniteness was challenged in 1989 when Bethlehem resident Naim Juha petitioned the High Court against the seizing of his family’s land. The court approved the seizure, but ordered that it be limited in time. Since then new orders appear with an expiration date, which is extended as needed. The orders from before the Juha petition remain infinite.

The study will appear in Hebrew, Arabic and English on the website of the civil society organization Etkes established in 2012, Kerem Navot. The title: “Seize the Moral Low Ground”.

Vox: Trump just made a highly controversial decision about Israel — again

Trump’s Golan Heights decision, briefly explained.

The United States will now recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel — a massive change in American foreign policy that will likely benefit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The surprise announcement by President Donald Trump about the disputed territory is in keeping with his full-throated support for Netanyahu and embrace of right-leaning Israeli positions. The questions now are if the decision will complicate the administration’s efforts to bring peace to the region and if the move will help Netanyahu’s reelection chances next month.

The answers to both, according to experts, are “yes.”

The Golan Heights, as Neri Zilber wrote for Vox, is a “strategic area of elevated land situated along Israel’s northern border with Syria. For decades it was part of Syria … [but] Israel conquered the region during the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.”

That’s why Trump’s decision is so controversial: Most other countries see Israel as illegally occupying the plateau. But on Thursday, Trump tweeted, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

The move was not totally unexpected. Last May, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, showing that he had no qualms about breaking with decades-long American policy in the region. And an annual human rights report released by the State Department last week referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” — not “Israeli-occupied,” as was customary.

That’s all made Netanyahu happy. He took no time to praise Trump’s announcement, tweeting his thanks only 16 minutes after Trump’s missive and telling the president in a phone call later that day that “you’ve made history.”

And there’s a really good reason for Netanyahu’s glee: it might help him stay in power.

Here’s a brief explanation of why Trump’s decision is so stunning, and how it could help the US president’s closest ally in the Middle East.

Why the US hasn’t recognized the Golan Heights until now

Experts told me there are two main — but connected — reasons why no other American leader made the decision Trump just did.

First, by formally recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights — territory it took from Syria decades ago — Trump has effectively endorsed forcibly taking land from other countries.

That might embolden world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin to refer back to this moment when he defends his nation’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, says Martin Indyk, who served as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013 to 2014. “It sets a dreadful principle,” he added.

What’s more, the Netanyahu-led Israeli right wing has wanted Israel to further occupy the West Bank — a chunk of land east of Israel mainly inhabited by millions of Palestinians, which would make up the heart of any future Palestinian state — for years, and might feel Trump just gave them the green light to do so.

Second, Trump’s move undermines standing international laws. There are two in particular that are pertinent.

UN Security Council Resolution 242, known more commonly as the “land for peace” resolution, has been in place since the end of the Six-Day War. It has formed the backbone of the decades-long peace process between Israel and Arab states, according to Brookings Institution fellow Khaled Elgindy, mainly because it affirms that regional countries can’t take land from others.

“Without 242, there is no peace process as such, only an arbitrary reality determined by Israeli power and endorsed by the US,” he said.

Then there’s UN Security Council Resolution 497, adopted in December 1981, which notes that “the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible” and, more to the point, “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void.”

But now that Trump has made a decision that defies both resolutions, some experts wonder if the region’s tepid peace will hold. “So there’s a real for Egypt, Jordan, & other Arabs now: how confident are they in US commitment to the treaties they signed [with] Israel, given Trump’s action today?” Tamara Wittes, a Middle East expert also at the Brookings Institution, tweeted after Trump’s announcement.

In other words, Trump has just complicated America’s policy toward the Middle East. But he likely doesn’t care too much, since he just delighted one of his closest allies in the region, Netanyahu.

Trump’s decision greatly helps Netanyahu

The Trump administration is extremely close to Israel’s prime minister. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Israel, and Netanyahu will visit the White House next week.

The reason for these visits — and Trump’s Golan Heights announcement — seems pretty clear: Netanyahu faces a tough election in April.

Netanyahu needs the help because he could soon be indicted on corruption charges by Israel’s attorney general, and he’s running against a popular former Army chief.

So here comes Trump to the rescue, giving Netanyahu a major win that could boost his chances of victory.

“It’s a blatant interference in Israeli domestic politics on behalf of his friend Bibi Netanyahu on the eve of an election that has no justification or basis in US national interest,” Indyk, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “There was no burning need for this.”

It therefore seems that Trump upended American bipartisan consensus just to help a friend. That might make him a nice guy in Netanyahu’s eyes, but the move will likely be considered disastrous by many others.

“The administration is likely once again to be completely isolated internationally,” Elgindy said.

The National: How Israel is working to remove Palestinians from Jerusalem

Business Insider: Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company

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Arbitrary Arrests, Detentions and Torture

ARBITRARY ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS

The authorities detained or continued to imprison thousands of Palestinians from the OPT, holding most of them in prisons in Israel, in violation of international law. Many prisoners’ families, particularly those in Gaza, were not permitted entry to Israel to visit their relatives in prison. The Israeli authorities

Amnesty International Report 2016/17203continued to arrest hundreds of Palestinian children in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. Many were subjected to abuse by Israeli forces including beatings and threats. The authorities held hundreds of Palestinians, including children, under renewable administrative detention orders based on information that they withheld from the detainees and their lawyers. The numbers held under such orders since October 2015 were the highest since 2007;more than 694 were held at the end of April2016 (the last month for which reliable data was available). Some detainees undertook lengthy protest hunger strikes; Palestinian detainee Bilal Kayed remained on hunger strike for 71 days. He was released without charge in December. Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah ended their hunger strike on 22 December after 90 days without food. Three Israeli Jews held as administrative detainees were released. The authorities gave circus performer Mohammed Faisal Abu Sakha two additional six-month administrative detention orders in June and December, based on secret evidence. His first six-month detention order had been issued in December 2015.Palestinians from the West Bank who were charged with protest-related and other offences faced unfair military trials, while Israeli civilian courts trying Palestinians from the Gaza Strip issued harsh sentences, even for minor offences. Mohammed al-Halabi, a Gaza-based humanitarian worker, was denied access to his lawyer and interrogated intensively for three weeks after his arrest in June. He was charged in August with embezzling money from the charity World Vision and passing itto Hamas, the de facto administration in Gaza. World Vision said it had not seen any substantive evidence to support the charge.

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT

Israeli soldiers, police and Israel Security Agency (ISA) officers subjected Palestinian detainees, including children, to torture and other ill-treatment with impunity, particularly on arrest and during interrogation. Reported methods included beatings, slapping, painfuls hackling, sleep deprivation, use of stress positions and threats. Although complaints alleging torture by ISA officers have been handled by the Ministry of Justice since2014, and more than 1,000 had been filed since 2001, no criminal investigations were opened. Complaints that the Israeli police used torture or other ill-treatment against asylum-seekers and members of the Ethiopian community in Israel were also common. The UN Committee against Torture conducted its fifth periodic review of Israel, criticizing continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment, impunity, and the authorities’ failure to proscribe torture as a crime under the law. Israeli officials noted that legislation criminalizing torture was being drafted by the Ministry of Justice, but it was not put before the Knesset (parliament).In September the High Court upheld a2015 law allowing the authorities to force-feed hunger-striking detainees; the law was not used in 2016.

Further Research

Morning Star: Israel accused of medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners

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Israel Detention and Torture of Palestinian Children

“They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13” Haaretz: ‘Endless Trip to Hell’: Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies

“Prisons, where the Palestinian children are detained, lack the international criteria for children and prisoners’ rights. They suffer from lack of proper food, hygiene, ventilation and lighting, as well as from pest infestations, congestion and a lack of medical treatment. They also suffer from a lack of proper clothing.  They are completely cut off from the outside world, have no family visitation, no social workers and are detained with old prisoners. Israeli criminals who beat them and sexually abuse them.” Middle East Monitor: Some 220 Palestinian children in ‘inhumane’ Israel jails

“8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000” Israel Palestine News: Testimonies from some of the 8,000 Palestinian children Israel has imprisoned

Aljazeera: Rise in Palestinian children held by Israel ‘alarming’

Jerusalem – A jabbing pain in his shoulder and thigh roused Obada from his sleep at 3am. In the half-light, the 15-year-old could make out eight masked men surrounding his bed, their rifles pointed at him.”I felt terrified,” he said of the experience of being arrested in February from his home in the village of al-Araqa, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Obada is one of more than 100 Palestinian children who, in recent months, have found themselves dragged from bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, according to children’s right groups. Testimonies like Obada’s feature in a new report, No Way to Treat a Child, compiled by Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), a group monitoring Israeli violations of Palestinian children’s rights.

The 440 children currently in military detention are the highest total since the Israeli army started issuing figures in 2008 – and more than double the number detained this time last year. 

During his arrest, Obada said he was hit with a rifle butt, blindfolded and his hands tied with a plastic cord that cut into his flesh. “The soldiers dragged me out of the house without allowing me to say goodbye to my family and without telling me why and where they were taking me,” he said. Over the next fortnight, according to Obada, he was repeatedly beaten. Indignities included being locked overnight in a small toilet cubicle and assaulted with a taser when he protested.

For 12 days, his only break from solitary confinement was to be taken from his cell to an interrogation room where he was tied tightly to a chair, slapped and threatened. He was repeatedly questioned about his ties to two school friends, Nihad and Fuad Waked, who had been killed a few days earlier during an attack on soldiers. Obada’s account of his arrest and detention accord with a pattern of abuse similar to other children’s testimonies, said Ivan Karakashian of DCIP.

Three-quarters of children reported being physically assaulted during their detention. In nearly 90 percent of cases, parents had no idea where their child had been taken, and in 97 percent of interrogations, no parent or lawyer was allowed to be present.

Some 60 percent of children were then transferred to prisons in Israel, in violation of international law, where, typically, they waited three months for their first family visit, as relatives struggled to get entry permits to Israel. Such abuses contrast strongly with the rights guaranteed to children both in Israel and in the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Karakashian told Al Jazeera that “the goal [of the detentions] is to terrify the population so that they will submit and not resist the occupation”. DCIP said it was alarmed not only by the rapid rise in the number of arrests since last October, but by the growing number of young children being locked up. More than 100 of those currently in prison are aged between 12 and 15.

Further Research

DCIP: REPORT: No Way to Treat a Child

Haaretz: ‘Endless Trip to Hell’: Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies

Middle East Monitor: Some 220 Palestinian children in ‘inhumane’ Israel jails

972mag: Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel

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Israel State Violence Campaign

UNLAWFUL KILLINGS

Israeli soldiers, police and security guards killed at least 98 Palestinians from the OPT in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; eight in the Gaza Strip; and three in Israel. In addition, one Palestinian citizen of Israel, responsible for killing three Israelis in Tel Aviv on 1 January, was killed by Israeli police inside Israel. Most of those killed were shot while attacking Israelis or suspected of intending an attack. Some, including children, were shot when they were posing no immediate threat to others’ lives and appeared to be victims of unlawful killings. Extrajudicial executions Some of those killed appeared to have been victims of extrajudicial executions. They included 16-year-old Mahmoud Shaalan, shot dead by Israeli soldiers at a Ramallah checkpoint in February; Mohammed Abu Khalaf, killed in February by Israeli border police in East Jerusalem; and Maram AbuIsmail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim, who were shot dead at Qalandia checkpoint in April by private contractors employed bythe Israeli Ministry of Defence.

EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE

Israeli forces used excessive, sometimes lethal, force against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, killing 22 and injuring thousands with rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition. Many protesters threw rocks or other projectiles but were posing no threat to the lives of well-protected Israeli soldiers when they were shot.

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Water Access

“The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.”
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 15, para 1

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Amnesty International: The Occupation of Water

“The legacy of Israel’s 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories has been systematic human rights violations on a mass scale. One of its most devastating consequences is the impact of Israel’s discriminatory policies on Palestinians’ access to adequate supplies of clean and safe water.

Soon after Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in June 1967, the Israeli military authorities consolidated complete power over all water resources and water-related infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). 50 years on, Israel continues to control and restrict Palestinian access to water in the OPT to a level which neither meets their needs nor constitutes a fair distribution of shared water resources.

In November 1967 the Israeli authorities issued Military Order 158, which stated that Palestinians could not construct any new water installation without first obtaining a permit from the Israeli army. Since then, the extraction of water from any new source or the development of any new water infrastructure would require permits from Israel, which are near impossible to obtain. Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation continue to suffer the devastating consequences of this order until today. They are unable to drill new water wells, install pumps or deepen existing wells, in addition to being denied access to the Jordan River and fresh water springs. Israel even controls the collection of rain water throughout most of the West Bank, and rainwater harvesting cisterns owned by Palestinian communities are often destroyed by the Israeli army. As a result, some 180 Palestinian communities in rural areas in the occupied West Bank have no access to running water, according to OCHA. Even in towns and villages which are connected to the water network, the taps often run dry.

While restricting Palestinian access to water, Israel has effectively developed its own water infrastructure and water network in the West Bank for the use of its own citizens in Israel and in the settlements – that are illegal under international law. The Israeli state-owned water company Mekorot has systematically sunk wells and tapped springs in the occupied West Bank to supply its population, including those living in illegal settlements with water for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes. While Mekorot sells some water to Palestinian water utilities, the amount is determined by the Israeli authorities. As a result of continuous restrictions, many Palestinian communities in the West Bank have no choice but to purchase water brought in by trucks at a much high prices ranging from 4 to 10 USD per cubic metre. In some of the poorest communities, water expenses can, at times, make up half of a family’s monthly income.

The Israeli authorities also restrict Palestinians’ access to water by denying or restricting their access to large parts of the West Bank. Many parts of the West Bank have been declared “closed military areas”, which Palestinians may not enter, because they are close to Israeli settlements, close to roads used by Israeli settlers, used for Israeli military training or protected nature reserves.

Israeli settlers living alongside Palestinians in the West Bank – in some cases just a few hundred meters away – face no such restrictions and water shortages, and can enjoy and capitalize on well-irrigated farmlands and swimming pools.

In Gaza, some 90-95 per cent of the water supply is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Israel does not allow water to be transferred from the West Bank to Gaza, and Gaza’s only fresh water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population and is being increasingly depleted by over-extraction and contaminated by sewage and seawater infiltration.

The resulting disparity in access to water between Israelis and Palestinians is truly staggering. Water consumption by Israelis is at least four times that of Palestinians living in the OPT. Palestinians consume on average 73 litres of water a day per person, which is well below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended daily minimum of 100 litres per capita. In many herding communities in the West Bank, the water consumption for thousands of Palestinians is as low as 20 litres per person a day, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). By contrast, an average Israeli consumes approximately 300 litres of water a day.

Further Research

Aljazeera: Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians

Aljazeera: Water deal tightens Israel’s control over Palestinians

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Freedom of Movement

“Palestinians waiting to go through an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian mobility is restricted by 99+ permanent checkpoints and 250+ flying checkpoints. [Photo by Samir Abed-Rabbo]” Institute for Middle East Understanding ( IMEU )

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Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of Worlds Human Rights

“Israel’s military blockade of the Gaza Strip entered its 10th year, continuing the collective punishment of Gaza’s entire population. Israeli controls on the movement of people and goods into and from Gaza, combined with Egypt’s almost total closure of the Rafah border crossing and funding shortages, damaged Gaza’s economy and hindered post-conflict reconstruction. Some 51,000 people were still displaced from the 2014 war, and unexploded ordnance from that conflict continued to cause civilian deaths and injuries. The number of Palestinians leaving Gaza via the Erez Crossing declined during the year, as the Israeli authorities denied, delayed or revoked permits for businesspeople, staff of international organizations, and medical patients and their companions.

Israeli forces maintained a “buffer zone” inside Gaza’s border with Israel and used live fire and other weapons against Palestinians who entered or approached it, killing four and wounding others. Israeli forces also fired at Palestinian fishermen in or near the “exclusion zone” that they maintained along Gaza’s coastline.

In the West Bank, the Israeli authorities severely restricted the movement of Palestinians on a discriminatory basis, particularly around illegal Israeli settlements and near the fence/wall. In response to Palestinian attacks on Israelis, the military authorities imposed collective punishment, revoking permits of attackers’ family members to work in Israel and closing off entire areas and villages.”

Btselem: Restrictions on Movement

“Restricting movement is one of the main tools that Israel employs to enforce its regime of occupation over the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians within the Occupied Territories, between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, into Israel, and abroad. Only Palestinians are restricted in this manner, while settlers and other civilians – Israeli and foreign – are free to travel.

Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the Occupied Territories lies completely at the mercy of the state’s whims, the instructions given to soldiers at the local (DCO), and the way in which they implement them. This state of affairs forces Palestinians to live in constant uncertainty, making it difficult to perform simple tasks and make plans. A Palestinian leaving home in the morning cannot know whether he or she is going to make it work – on time or at all – or to keep a medical appointment, visit family or catch a movie. She might make it, or she might be delayed at a checkpoint for hours, detained and humiliated by soldiers. She may have to turn around and go back the way she came. She may get arrested.

The restrictions on movement and the uncertainty they generate also bear implications for the Palestinian economy and its development potential. In several reports on the issue, the World Bank found that these restrictions are a major factor impeding economic stability and growth in the Occupied Territories. Reasons include delays in the arrival of goods, non-arrival of raw materials, the separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the inability to set schedules and meet them.

The present situation

Israel manages the Occupied Territories as three separate, unrelated areas: the Gaza Strip, which it has held under blockade for more than a decade; the West Bank, where it exercises full military control; and East Jerusalem, which it has annexed to its sovereign territory. Israel allows Palestinians to travel between these areas only if they obtain a special permit, which it rarely issues.

As part of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, Israel prohibits Palestinians from entering and leaving the area except in extremely rare cases, which include urgent, life-threatening medical conditions and a very short list of merchants. Israel limits import into Gaza and almost completely prohibits exports out of it. This policy has driven the Gazan economy to collapse, pushing unemployment there over the 40% mark.

In the West Bank, Israel controls all entry and exit points – including those leading to East Jerusalem, which it has annexed. Israel uses this control not only to block Palestinians from entering sovereign Israeli territory – even if only in transit to and from the Gaza Strip – but also to monitor all travel abroad from the West Bank, often denying this right based on its .

Inside Jerusalem, Israel has installed checkpoints that cut the Palestinian neighborhoods on the other side of the Separation Barrier off from the rest of the city. This forces 140,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites to cross busy, crowded checkpoints in order to enter their own city.

Israel also controls Palestinian travel inside the West Bank. Two major checkpoints split the West Bank in three: The Za’atara checkpoint between Nablus and Ramallah, which is staffed some of the time, and the Container checkpoint east of Abu Dis, which is always staffed. The traffic arteries, together with other checkpoints and roadblocks, direct all Palestinian traffic moving between the north and south of the West Bank into the roads that are controlled by these two checkpoints. The military has also installed iron gates at the entrances to the vast majority of West Bank villages, allowing it to isolate them within minutes and with minimal personnel.

As of January 2017, there are 98 checkpoints in the West Bank:

  • 59 permanent checkpoints located deep within the West Bank, 18 of them in Area H2 in the city of Hebron, where Israeli settlement enclaves have been established. Some of these checkpoints are constantly staffed, some only at daytime or for part of the day, and some are hardly ever staffed. Inspections at the checkpoints vary, but are often random.
  • 39 staffed checkpoints, which are considered points of entry into Israel although most are located several kilometers into the West Bank. These checkpoints are always staffed, and inspections are rigorous.
  • According to 2017 figures provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2,941 flying checkpoints were counted along West Bank roads (an average of 327 a month) until the end of September. A total of 5,587 flying checkpoints were counted in 2016.  According to OCHA, as of January 2017, there were 476 unstaffed physical obstacles along West Bank roads – including dirt mounds, concrete blocks, and fenced-off segments. Of these, 124 were gates installed at the entrances to villages – 59 of them closed and 65 open most of the time, except when the military decides to close them

To View list of checkpoints click here.

The restrictions on movement within the West Bank have institutionalized the separation between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. The main network of roads was built to serve settlers, on land expropriated from Palestinians. Israel completely prohibits Palestinians from using about 40 kilometers of these roads – including almost eight kilometers of Route 443 and almost seven kilometers within the city of Hebron, near the settlements established there. Another 20 kilometers of these roads are partially off limits to Palestinians.

In addition, Israel has created an alternate network of roads intended for Palestinians only. Referred to as “fabric-of-life roads”, they were also paved on land expropriated from Palestinians and include tunnels and bypass roads. According to OCHA, Israel has paved 49 kilometers of such roads, including 43 tunnels and underpasses. While this network does allow for vehicular travel between the Palestinian “islands” that Israel has created throughout the West Bank, Israel still prevents territorial contiguity between these communities. This road network also allows Israel to easily cut off traffic between different parts of the West Bank.

The permit system

To enforce the movement restrictions, Israel instituted a permit system that requires all Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories to obtain a permit in order to enter Israel, East Jerusalem included, for any purpose whatsoever – including work, medical care and family visits. Palestinians must obtain a permit in order to transit through Israel for travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As part of its blockade policy, Israel refuses to issue such permits to residents of Gaza, with rare exceptions.

In attempting to obtain these permits, Palestinians face an arbitrary, entirely non-transparent bureaucratic system. Applicants have no way of assessing the chances that their applications will be approved or how soon. Many applications are denied without explanation, with no real avenue for appeal. In addition, permits already granted are easily revoked, also without explanation.

Since October 2003, Israel has also been enforced a permit system in the “seam zone” – areas severed from the West Bank by the Separation Barrier, often separating landowners from their land. Under this system, Palestinian farmers must apply for permits to access their own land and renew them repeatedly. Restrictions are imposed on anyone who is not a landowner, and on bringing in farming equipment.

Background

Initially, after the occupation began, Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could travel almost entirely freely. Tens of thousands worked in Israel. Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and Israel maintained family ties; students from Gaza studied in West Bank universities; and extensive trade took place among Palestinians, no matter where they lived.

In January 1991, during the Gulf War, Israel changed its policy, introducing a demand that any Palestinian wishing to enter Israel or East Jerusalem, including for the purpose of travel between the West Bank and Gaza, must obtain a personal permit from Israel. This policy split the Occupied Territories into three separate areas – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza – leaving travel between them entirely dependent on Israel’s approval.

The impact of this policy change was not immediately apparent. In the first few months, a great many permits were issued and for relatively long durations. As a rule, most Palestinians were still able to routinely enter Israel or travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, Israel gradually reduced the number of permits issued and they became harder and harder to obtain, until, in March 1993, after Palestinians from the Occupied Territories killed nine Israeli civilians and six members of the Israeli security forces, Israel imposed full closure “until further notice”.

To enforce the closure, Israel installed checkpoints along the Green Line (the boundary between the Israel’s sovereign territory and the West Bank), between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, and on the Gaza border, and required Palestinians wishing to cross them to obtain a permit. These permits are canceled every time the military imposes a “complete closure” on the Occupied Territories, such as on Jewish holidays. The military often revokes Israeli entry permits after attacks, too – sometimes for all Palestinians in the West Bank, sometimes for residents of the attacker’s community, and sometimes, only for his or her family members.

Over the course of the second intifada, Israel imposed severe restrictions on Palestinian movement even inside the Occupied Territories. In the West Bank, it installed dozens of checkpoints and hundreds of physical obstacles – such as dirt mounds, concrete blocks and ditches – and also began building the Separation Barrier. Some of these obstacles have been removed and others have become permanent checkpoints, but altogether they formed the most extensive, longest-lasting restrictions on Palestinian movement since the beginning of the occupation, disrupting the daily lives of all residents.

Israel put up checkpoints inside the Gaza Strip as well, dividing it into three separate areas. In 2005, it implemented the Disengagement Plan, withdrawing its permanent military presence from Gaza, which made travel there free again. In June 2007, after Hamas took power, Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip – a policy still in effect today – prohibiting, with rare exceptions, entry and exit.

Further Research

Middle East Monitor: Gaza cancer patients complain about Israeli restrictions on their treatment

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Occupation Law

Adalah: The Discriminatory Laws Database

“Adalah’s Discriminatory Laws Database (DLD) is an online resource comprising a list of over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.  The discrimination in these laws is either explicit – “discrimination on its face” – or, more often, the laws are worded in a seemingly neutral manner, but have or will likely have a disparate impact on Palestinians in their implementation.

These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention. Some of the laws also discriminate against other groups such as gays, non-religious Jews, and Palestinian refugees.

Click to explore the Discriminatory Laws Database

Background

Successive Israeli governments regularly enact legislation which excludes, ignores, and discriminates against the Palestinian Arab minority. Since the establishment of the state, Israel has relied upon these laws to ground their discriminatory treatment of Arab citizens and allow the unequal status and unequal treatment of Jewish and Arab citizens to persist.

Adalah’s General Director, Hassan Jabareen, on discriminatory laws enacted during 2009-2012:

From 2009 to the present, the Israeli elections have brought to power the most right‐wing government coalitions in the history of Israel, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Members of Knesset (MKs)  in these governments have introduced and continue to table a flood of discriminatory legislation.

These new laws and bills seek, inter alia, to dispossess and exclude Palestinians from the land; turn Palestinians’ citizenship from a right into a conditional privilege; undermine the ability of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their parliamentary representatives to participate in the political life of the country; criminalize political expression or acts that question the Jewish or Zionist nature of the state; and privilege Israeli Jewish citizens in the allocation of state resources.

Amnesty International: 50 years of Israeli Occupation: Four Outrageous Facts about Military Order 101

“Did you know that Israel has been banning Palestinians from organizing any protests for 50 years? This is what daily life under Israeli occupation is for Palestinians.

27 August marks 50 years since Israel issued Military Order 101, a law that punishes Palestinians for peaceful political expression. Anyone breaching the order faces imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a hefty fine. 50 years on, Military Order 101, which is almost as old as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, continues to apply to Palestinians in the West Bank, and may be enforced at any time.

Here are four facts that bring home the true impact of this draconian law on the daily lives of Palestinians.

1- Unless an Israeli military commander provides authorization in advance, Palestinians in the West Bank are banned from attending and organizing a procession, assembly or vigil of 10 or more people for a political purpose, or where a speech is being made on a political subject, or for a matter that may be construed as political, or even to discuss such a subject.

Since 1967, Israel’s authorities have arrested and detained hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, under military orders. Many were detained under Military Order 101 solely for attending peaceful protests that were deemed to be political.

Farid al-Atrash and Issa Amro are two Palestinian human rights defenders currently on trial in an Israeli military court. They face a series of charges, one of which is “participation in a march without a permit,” which is not an internationally recognized criminal offence. They were marching peacefully on 26 February 2016 to protest Israel’s settlements (the Israeli colonies unlawfully established in the OPT) and discriminatory restrictions on movement imposed in the old city of Hebron.

The right to freedom of peaceful assembly, along with the rights to freedom of expression and association, are enshrined in human rights treaties to which Israel is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2- The display of flags or emblems, and the publication of any document or image with politically significant content, without a permit from an Israeli military commander is banned.

Over the last 50 years, Palestinians have been arrested and detained for displaying a poster in a room, if it was deemed political, and for raising the Palestinian flag. Such acts continue to be criminalized despite the fact that in 1993 Palestinians signed a peace accord with Israel that was meant to recognize their political rights. Since then, Palestine has achieved non-member observer status at the United Nations (UN), and more than 135 UN member states recognize Palestine as a state. And yet, raising the Palestinian flag in the West Bank or displaying the ‘wrong’ poster in a room is still a criminal act under Israeli military orders, unless an Israeli army commander authorizes it.

One of the charges against Issa Amro in his ongoing military trial relates to him attending a protest “without a permit” while wearing a T-shirt with “I have a dream” written on it, and waving the Palestinian flag. Such actions were interpreted as political and therefore criminal.

3- Verbal or other expressions of support or sympathy for the activities and aims of any organization deemed illegal under military orders is prohibited. This includes many Palestinian political parties and student unions.

Supporting a political party or a student or trade union that Israel deems to be a “hostile organization”, by waving a flag, signing a hymn or chanting a slogan in a public place, can get you arrested under Military Order 101.

In some cases, arrest and detention are accompanied by torture and other ill-treatment. Palestinians from all walks of life, including journalists, students, teachers, farmers, politicians and drivers, have been affected by this order.

4- Anyone breaching Military Order 101 faces imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a hefty fine.

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi was sentenced to four months in jail and fined 5,000 Israeli shekels (about US$1,280 at the time) on 6 November 2012 for his involvement in peaceful demonstrations against Israeli settlements. As part of a plea bargain, the military judge also imposed a three-month suspended sentence that was to remain active for three years. Bassem Tamimi said he felt compelled to make a plea bargain because he was breaching Military Order 101.

Virtually all cases of Palestinians brought before Israeli military courts end in convictions. Most convictions are the result of plea bargains. This is because Palestinian defendants know the entire system is so unfair that if they go on trial, they will be convicted and given a longer sentence.”

How Israel’s citizenship laws allows Jews in and keeps Palestinians out

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Denial of Citizenship

“Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.

Hufftington Post: 10 Things Palestinians Can’t Do Because Of The Israeli Occupation

Most Palestinians can’t enjoy the rights of citizenship.

“Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are effectively a stateless people, who, for the most part, lack rights to citizenship in any sovereign nation.

Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem are technically eligible for citizenship, but Israel only granted citizenship to about half of Palestinian applicants from 2003 to 2013. And the application process has all but halted over the past three years, according to a Times of Israel report. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can only vote in municipal elections.

For Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank, gaining Israeli citizenship is all but impossible. It’s even difficult for Palestinians with an Israeli parent to gain citizenship. Being married to an Israeli does not grant Palestinians the right to live in Israel.

Under the Law of Return, anyone who is a non-Israeli Jew or is related to a non-Israeli Jew can be almost automatically granted citizenship. Palestinian refugees who fled Israel during the 1948 war are denied that opportunity and can’t reclaim the land and possessions they were forced to leave behind.

This is particularly important when it comes to voting rights in Israel. Israeli politicians and policies directly impact Palestinians’ lives, but without Israeli citizenship, Palestinians cannot vote in national elections. Palestinians from the occupied territories who live in Israel are only allowed to vote in municipal elections.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, a governing body that has some authority in parts of the West Bank, last held presidential elections in 2005.”

The Times of Israel: Israel almost entirely halts citizenship approvals for East Jerusalemites

Since Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, it has formally offered residents living in that area the option to apply for Israeli citizenship. Until around a decade ago, very few did, as the vast majority identified, and still do identify, as Palestinian. Recent years, however, have seen a surge in the number of Palestinians seeking Israeli citizenship. But Israel, which in the decade from 2003 to 2013 denied or delayed about half of the citizenship applications by East Jerusalemites, has more recently been failing to accept almost all of them, The Times of Israel has established.

Currently, there are some 350,000 Arab East Jerusalemites, around 37 percent of the capital’s population. As permanent residents, they pay taxes and are entitled to state benefits like healthcare and social security. However, they cannot vote in national elections, apply for an Israeli passport, nor run for mayor in their own city. They can vote in municipal elections, yet most choose not to, in protest of what they — and the broader international community — consider Israel’s illegal occupation of their land. Around 80% of East Jerusalemites live under the poverty line, according to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.

If this was normalization, they’d make it easier

Sara (not her real name), a 20-something female who didn’t want her age or profession published for fear she may be identified, said she applied two and a half years ago for Israeli citizenship.

As an East Jerusalemite, she has no citizenship and therefore no passport, and wanted one because she travels a lot for work. As things stand, she can only leave the country with temporary documents and must get a visa every time she does, no matter where she goes. She said she became sick and tired of the hassle.

The large majority of East Jerusalemites have Jordanian passports — a remnant of the time Jordan controlled their neighborhoods between 1948-1967 — but no Jordanian citizenship.  Sara refuses to be a part of such a system.

“If I get a Jordanian passport, it means I’m a part of the Jordanian state. But I don’t belong to there. I belong here, to the place I was born, where I live, where I pay taxes and where I work. I do all my obligations. I should be able to live here as a citizen, not a resident,” she told the Times of Israel.

East Jerusalemites, like all permanent residents seeking Israeli citizenship, must give up any other citizenships, passports, or residency statuses — like a US green card — on gaining Israeli citizenship. (Different rules apply to those seeking citizenship under the Law of Return, who may retain foreign passports.) In the case of most East Jerusalem applicants, that means renouncing Jordanian citizenship.

Since applying for Israeli citizenship, Sara said, her hassles have compounded. Every six months, she goes to the Interior Ministry’s office to check on the status of her application, and each time is asked to bring in updated documents.

When she asks why her application is taking so long, “they have no answer for me except for that it’s a long line,” she said. Her own conclusion: “They aren’t rushing to give citizenship to East Jerusalem residents. As much as they can elongate the process, they do.”

Is Sara concerned about her application for Israeli citizenship contributing to “normalization” — a term used to describe the strong taboo of Palestinians cooperating in any way with the Israeli government and sometimes with Israeli civilians?

“At the end of the day, if this was normalization, the government would give us citizenship with ease,” she said. “But we work so hard to get it. In order for normalization (to take place), the other side has to accept you and welcome you. But they (Israel) don’t welcome us — the opposite,” she said.

What East Jerusalemites must prove

In seeking citizenship, East Jerusalemites must meet the same Israeli legal requirements as any foreign national who has attained permanent residency status in Israel — perhaps through marriage, or having come to Israel to play for a sports team.

As in the case of Sufyan Dabash, the primary reason requests for citizenship are denied to East Jerusalemites is because they cannot prove Jerusalem is their “center of life.”

Adi Lustigman, an independent Israeli attorney who has worked extensively with East Jerusalemites seeking citizenship, said proving center of life includes (but is not limited to): producing three years of water, electricity and municipal tax bills, bank slips, confirmation by social security offices and letters from employers, and if one has children, their vaccination records.

For some East Jerusalemites, producing the bills is impossible, as their homes get these resources outside of the state companies. Additionally, rent may have been agreed upon without a formal contract, and those who work in construction — a popular career — switch workplaces often, so can’t get a letter saying they’ve been working in the same place for three years.

Hadad told The Times of Israel many East Jerusalemites have difficulty proving Jerusalem is their “center of life.” Even for the ministry itself, she said, confirming an applicant’s “center of life” is so arduous that the process almost always takes more than a year.

Why the surge in citizenship requests?

The majority of East Jerusalemites apply for Israeli citizenship for one reason, according to Ahmad al-Khalidi, a field worker in East Jerusalem: to ensure they won’t be expelled from the city.

“They consider themselves to be Palestinians, but request citizenship to guard their residency status,” he said. Al-Khalidi’s contention has some corroborative evidence.

Despite the state having transferred its authority onto their neighborhoods after 1967, Israel applies the 1952 “entry into Israel law” to them. This law, which was not legislated with East Jerusalemites in mind, gives the Interior Ministry the right to revoke the residency status of anyone who has been out of the country for seven years, has received the status of permanent resident in a foreign country, and/or became a citizen of a foreign country.

In 1995, without any public statement, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the Interior Ministry began demanding East Jerusalemites prove the capital was their center of life. Retroactively, thousands of families were legally liable to have their residency statuses revoked — and that’s what happened, with revocations in many subsequent years reaching numbers beyond anything East Jerusalemites had previously experienced.

This policy hit its peak in 2008, during which an unprecedented 4,577 East Jerusalemites had their residency statuses revoked, according to Interior Ministry statistics obtained by Hamoked, an Jerusalem-based rights group. This was nearly four times more than in any year since 1967.

The following year, the number of applications by East Jerusalemites for citizenship jumped from 1,025 to 1,656 — a 61% leap and by far the highest increase since 1967.  Lustigman said some of her East Jerusalemite clients say they want to “live in equality and be the same as anyone else.” But many she said, specifically say they want citizenship because they are afraid they may need to go abroad, or their children may need to go abroad, and may not be allowed to return if they are away for more than seven years.

“If they aren’t citizens, the state can take away their residency status like flies,” she said.

The ‘ridiculous’ Hebrew requirement

“Doesn’t meet requirements,” was the second-most cited reason for denying citizenship to East Jerusalemites. The majority of cases in this category of refusal, according to a response from the ministry, related to the failure to prove sufficient Hebrew-language proficiency. (A rejection by Israel’s security establishment was the third most-cited reason for denying East Jerusalemite citizenship applications.)

The ministry said that by law, all permanent residents seeking Israeli citizenship, not just East Jerusalemites, must learn Hebrew. This requirement has been in force since 1967.

Lustigman, however, argued that it’s “ridiculous” to force East Jerusalemites to learn Hebrew, when Arabic, their native tongue, is an official language of Israel. She added that there is a clause in the law that would allow the ministry to waive the Hebrew requirement for East Jerusalemites, and said it was choosing not to provide such an exemption.

Additionally, the Hebrew test is not standardized, according to Lustigman and several applicants who spoke to The Times of Israel. Rather, it consists of speaking and writing on a random subject chosen by an interviewer from the ministry, who judges on the spot whether the applicant has strong enough Hebrew to become Israeli.

According to Khaled Salhab — who is by default the highest ranking East Jerusalemite in Jerusalem City Hall, because he’s an aide to a Jerusalem city council member — the Hebrew requirement is troublesome for applicants from East Jerusalem because the language is hardly taught in their schools.

Around 20-30% of schools in East Jerusalem are managed by the Palestinian Authority or the Waqf (Muslim Trust); in these schools, no Hebrew is taught. But the schools directly managed by the city or private schools funded by the municipality, Salhab said, aren’t much better. Hebrew is given around the same amount of hours as sports, he said.

Salhab said he went to a city-funded school and didn’t know “a word of Hebrew” when he finished the 12th grade. Today, he is fluent in Hebrew, after paying thousands of dollars to take courses at the Hebrew University.

New York Times:  Not All Israeli Citizens Are Equal

“I’M a Palestinian who was born in the Israeli town of Lod, and thus I am an Israeli citizen. My wife is not; she is a Palestinian from Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Despite our towns being just 30 miles apart, we met almost 6,000 miles away in Massachusetts, where we attended neighboring colleges.

A series of walls, checkpoints, settlements and soldiers fill the 30-mile gap between our hometowns, making it more likely for us to have met on the other side of the planet than in our own backyard. Never is this reality more profound than on our trips home from our current residence outside Washington.

Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is on the outskirts of Lod (Lydda in Arabic), but because my wife has a Palestinian ID, she cannot fly there; she is relegated to flying to Amman, Jordan. If we plan a trip together — an enjoyable task for most couples — we must prepare for a logistical nightmare that reminds us of our profound inequality before the law at every turn.

Even if we fly together to Amman, we are forced to take different bridges, two hours apart, and endure often humiliating waiting and questioning just to cross into Israel and the West Bank. The laws conspire to separate us.

If we lived in the region, I would have to forgo my residency, since Israeli law prevents my wife from living with me in Israel. This is to prevent what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to as “demographic spillover.” Additional Palestinian babies in Israel are considered “demographic threats” by a state constantly battling to keep a Jewish majority. (Of course, Israelis who marry Americans or any non-Palestinian foreigners are not subjected to this treatment.)

Last week marked Israel’s 64th year of independence; it is also when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” during which many of Palestine’s native inhabitants were turned into refugees.

In 1948, the Israeli brigade commander Yitzhak Rabin helped expel Lydda’s Palestinian population. Some 19,000 of the town’s 20,000 native Palestinian inhabitants were forced out. My grandparents were among the 1,000 to remain.

They were fortunate to become only internally displaced and not refugees. Years later my grandfather was able to buy back his own home — a cruel absurdity, but a better fate than that imposed on most of his neighbors, who were never permitted to re-establish their lives in their hometowns.

Three decades later, in October 1979, this newspaper reported that Israel barred Rabin from detailing in his memoir what he conceded was the “expulsion” of the “civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000.” Rabin, who by then had served as prime minister, sought to describe how “it was essential to drive the inhabitants out.”

Two generations after the Nakba, the effect of discriminatory Israeli policies still reverberates. Israel still seeks to safeguard its image by claiming to be a bastion of democracy that treats its Palestinian citizens well, all the while continuing illiberal policies that target this very population. There is a long history of such discrimination.

In the 1950s new laws permitted the state to take control over Palestinians’ land by classifying them “absentees.” Of course, it was the state that made them absentees by either preventing refugees from returning to Israel or barring internally displaced Palestinians from having access to their land. This last group was ironically termed “present absentees” — able to see their land but not to reach it because of military restrictions that ultimately resulted in their watching the state confiscate it. Until 1966, Palestinian citizens were governed under martial law.

Today, a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot. And although Palestinians make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, the 2012 budget allocates less than 7 percent for Palestinian citizens.

Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.

The failure of Israeli and American leaders to grapple with this nondemocratic reality is not helping. Even if a two-state solution were achieved, which seems fanciful at this point, a fundamental contradiction would remain: more than 35 laws in ostensibly democratic Israel discriminate against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

For all the talk about shared values between Israel and the United States, democracy is sadly not one of them right now, and it will not be until Israel’s leaders are willing to recognize Palestinians as equals, not just in name, but in law.”

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Withholding of Tax Revenue

Wikipedia: Withholding of Taxes Collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians

“As of 2016, Taxation in the State of Palestine is subject to the Oslo Accords, notably the Protocol on Economic Relations or Paris Protocol, which was signed in 1994 by the PLO and Israel. The Paris Protocol established a customs union, which essentially formalized the existing situation where the Palestinian economy was merged into the Israeli one. Formally, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is entitled to collect taxes from the Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, but some 75% of the total tax revenue was as of 2014 collected by Israel on behalf of the PA and transferred on monthly basis. Israel has occasionally withheld the taxes it owes the Palestinian Authority.

Background

Until 1967, the West Bank was subject to the Jordanian system of taxation; Gaza to the Egyptian. Neither territory had previously had economic ties with Israel. After Israel had occupied the Palestinian territories, the economic relations with the former rulers were cut and Israel launched a partial integration of the territories into its own economic structures in the form of an incomplete customs union. The Israeli labour market was opened up to Palestinian workers and in 1972, one out of four Palestinian workers had found employment in the Israeli economy.

The taxes paid by settlers and Israeli soldiers who live in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem flow directly into the Israeli treasury. This includes income taxes.  Institutions and businesses in settlements pay taxes to the municipalities, albeit they enjoy tax benefits, thus contributing to the sustenance of the settlements. This includes corporate taxes and water taxes

In 1994, the Gaza–Jericho Agreement and the annexed Protocol on Economic Relations (Paris Protocol) were signed by the PLO and Israel, which created both the Palestinian Authority and a formal customs union.

The tax clearance system

Israel collects taxes on Palestinian imports on behalf of the PA and transfers the results on monthly basis. Israel forces all Palestinian imports (and its exports as far as allowed by Israel) to go via Israel. Within the West Bank, all goods are unilaterally routed by Israel via military checkpoints and crossings through the Israeli West Bank barrier.  Palestine highly depends on goods and services sold in Israel and intended for consumption in the Occupied Territories, on which Israel charges value added tax (VAT) and revenues from foreign imports on behalf of the PA. As a result, tax clearance is the largest source of Palestinian public income. Also income taxes as well as some insurance fees deducted from the wages of Palestinians employed in Israel and the Israeli settlements are collected by Israel.

Early 2006, the Palestinian Authority directly collected in the West Bank Area’s A and B approximately $35 million per month from taxes and other charges; Israel turned over about $50 million of collected taxes per month. In December 2012, the tax revenues collected by Israel were put at some $100 million a month. In 2014-2015, the revenue was about $160 million per month. The Authority’s self-generated revenue collected by Israel account for about 70-75% of the total government’s income.

Israeli withholdings as means of pressure

The large proportion of Israeli-collected taxes in the PA’s budget makes the PA vulnerable to unilateral suspension of clearance revenue transfers by Israel. As early as 1997, Israel began to abuse the clearance system for political reasons and to unilaterally settle bills unpaid by Palestinians. Israel has frequently suspended hundreds of millions of dollars for accumulated periods of some 4 years. While the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation unilaterally issues excessive late payment penalties and interest charges, Israel did not pay interest on money it did not transfer to the PA.

Political reasons for suspension varied from Palestinian violence to the election of Hamas in the PA, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and the demand for international recognition.

  • 1997: Following a bombing in Jerusalem, Israel suspended the transfer for two months.
  • 2000: Following the start of the Second Intifada, Israel withheld Palestinian revenue for two years.
  • 2006: Following the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Israel suspended the tax transfers for more than a year.
  • 2008: In June 2008, Israel retained a large part of the taxes in an apparent retaliation for PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad‘s lobbying at the European Union not to upgrade the Israel–European Union relations.
  • 2011: After a Fatah–Hamas reconciliation attempt in May, and during October and November 2011 in response to Palestine’s bid for full membership in the United Nations and admission to UNESCO, Israel refused to transfer collected taxes.
  • 2012: In response to Palestine securing an upgraded status in the UN pursuant to United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19, Israel withheld the December 2012 tax transfer, to the amount of $100 million.  Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months”.  The withheld money will be used to pay Palestinian debts to the Israel Electric Corporation, and Lieberman also said that the Palestinians had a major debt with the Israeli water authority (Mekorot) that would have to be paid. Both the Israel Electric Corporation and Mekorot are primarily owned by the government of Israel. The Foreign Affairs Council of the Council of the European Union released a statement calling on Israel to “avoid any step undermining the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority” and stating that “Contractual obligations, notably under the [Protocol on Economic Relations], regarding full, timely, predictable and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues have to be respected.” On 9 December 2012, Mahmud Abbas warned he may refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it continues to withhold tax revenues at a meeting of the Arab League at which other members agreed to make up the shortfall in revenues.
  • 2014: Following the April 2014 Gaza Agreement, Israel again withheld taxes as a punitive measure, in order to unilaterally settle debts.
  • 2015: In December 2014, Palestine submitted a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over crimes committed “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and acceded to the Rome Statute to become a states party to the Statute. Israel suspended the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues to the PA as punishment for 4 months until April 2015.

Washington Post: Israel withholds tax revenue from Palestinian Authority as dispute escalates

“The Israeli government plans to withhold at least $127 million in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli official confirmed Saturday, as tensions between the two sides escalated.

The move appears to be a response to Palestinian attempts to join the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The decision comes after a week of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as “unilateral moves” by the Palestinians. They included trying to win passage of a U.N. resolution imposing a time frame for a peace accord and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory. The Palestinians have also said they will sign 16 international treaties, including one that would make them members of the ICC, as the international court is known.

The U.N. resolution did not pass in the Security Council. But if the Palestinians’ application to the ICC is successful, it would give them the ability to request investigations of alleged atrocities by Israel. That could include probing Israel’s actions last summer in the Gaza Strip, where it fought a 50-day war with the militant Palestinian group Hamas. More than 2,000 Gazans were killed in the fighting, according to U.N. figures. Israel maintains that a significant number of those slain were militants who fired rockets at Israeli communities…

…The Israeli government’s decision to freeze the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians from custom and excise duties — funds the Palestinian Authority relies on to pay salaries and provide public services — appears likely to cause a further flare-up.”

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Israel Colonialism 

Settler colonialism

Apartheid

Dehumanization

Settler colonialism

Huffington Post: Israeli Settler Colonialism Is The Obstacle To Peace

5865611415000029019165b9The Hagana (Zionist militia) force Palestinians out of Haifa at gunpoint in May 1948.

As Israel chooses increased self-isolation in response to rightful condemnation from the UN Security Council (DEcember 2016) and John Kerry attempts to resurrect a two-state solution, we must remember that the scope of the Israeli settler colonial project is not limited to its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli settlements are, in one word, imposing. They assert the will of the Israeli government upon an occupied Palestinian land and its population, commanding control over facts on the ground – the allocation and use of resources, freedom of movement, land ownership. Their geographical placement and architecture contribute to this imposing nature. As I traveled between Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, and Beit Jala during my first trip to Palestine years ago, the settlements of Har Homa and Gilo, which house more than 65,000 illegal settlers, dominated the panorama. High rise apartments built upon the hilltops, the lights shining through unshuttered windows at night made the compounds look foreign and invasive, like spaceships hovering over Palestinian territory.

These settlements are also illegal under international law and, in a move last week that took many by surprise, the United States refused to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns continued settlement construction. The move was not entirely unprecedented, as previous Democratic and Republican administrations have wielded their power at the UN to condemn Israeli settlements for decades. The abstention was unprecedented for the Obama administration, however, which has consistently shielded Israel from critical UN resolutions over the past eight years.

Predictably, Israel has taken the only route available to a country drowning in the perils of exclusivist ethno-nationalism, a disposition that has been perpetually stoked by Benjamin Netanyahu in his quest to construct and maintain the most far-right government in Israeli history. The path is one of severe self-isolation, creating an absurd parallel universe where Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev asserts that “the Americans…were never our friends” and Netanyahu warns New Zealand’s foreign minister that their support for the resolution amounts to a “declaration of war.”

But Israel has a much larger problem in relation to its international legitimacy, one that the state has, since its founding, obsessively labored to obfuscate. That is, Israel is a settler colonial state, and not just because it builds settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

As the late Patrick Wolfe reminded us, settler colonial invasion is a structure, not an event. Israeli settler colonialism cannot be reduced to Minister of Education Naftali Bennett’s rhetoric about annexing the West Bank or the announcement of a new settlement bloc in East Jerusalem. The genesis of Israeli settler colonial invasion dates back to decades before the first “settlement” – as we commonly conceive of them today – was constructed. The state’s very existence is necessarily accompanied, as all settler projects are, by a legacy of foundational violence. The ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionist forces during the early twentieth century displaced at least 750,000 Palestinians and destroyed more than 400 of their villages. This is to say that, when the latest UN resolution notes that the Security Council wishes to “[reaffirm] the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,” it is imperative to also recognize the territory acquired through the force leveled by Zionist militias in the lead up to Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.

Once declared, the primary goal of the settler colonial state is supersession, where the newly imposed settler structure becomes a de facto hegemonic order, replacing that which is indigenous through the elimination of the native. When Israel defends its “right” to build settlements on what is left of Palestinian territory, it expands the explicit face of its settler project while beclouding the deeper settler colonial roots that can be found within “Israel proper.” In other words, as dictated by the mainstream discourse, Tel Aviv is not a settlement because Ma’ale Adumim is. But the two must be seen in a continuum, for as Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion wrote to his son in 1937, “[A] Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning…We shall organize an advanced defense force – a superior army which I have no doubt will be one of the best…At that point I am confident that we would not fail in settling in the remaining parts of the country…We must expel [the] Arabs and take their place.”

It is also this settler colonial reality that renders the most commonly prescribed political process for negotiated peace in the region completely impotent. The Peace Process purports to seek the establishment of a Palestinian state while Israeli settler colonialism explicitly denies that possibility. To speak plainly, there is no room for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state within the Zionist – and now Israeli – political imaginary. It cannot exist. The two-state solution is not dead; it was, in fact, never alive. As such, Secretary of State John Kerry’s anachronistic warnings of the potential demise of the two-state solution, such as those he issued again in his speech on Wednesday, amount to little more than an American effort to avoid the eventual blame of history books for the failure of negotiations.

The Oslo Accords offer a perfect glimpse into this dynamic. Considered far and wide as the most hopeful and potentially productive moment in the annals of the Peace Process, the Declaration of Principles have been hailed for decades as an astonishing breakthrough in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. But what has come of these agreements? For more than two decades since their signing, every final status issue – refugees, Jerusalem, borders, settlements – has been deferred, while security and economic arrangements meant to buttress Israel’s position of strength have remained the center of attention. Life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continues under a complete military blockade that has rendered the territory in danger of becoming uninhabitable by 2020. The Israeli settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has nearly tripled. This is all to say that, two decades after the shining moment of the Peace Process, we have never been farther away from the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Yes, international condemnation of the current phase of the Israeli settlement enterprise is important, but a substantial challenge to this reality cannot stop at a UN resolution. The possibility of a political settlement is bleak not because the situation is “complicated” or because of Palestinian intransigence, but precisely because settler colonialism is particularly and staunchly resistant to decolonization efforts. If Kerry and his cohort truly wish to help reach a just peace in historic Palestine, the effort must be toward the comprehensive dismantlement of this system of settler domination. Perpetual calls for segregation within a nationalist framework while ignoring the ills of Israeli settler colonialism will continue to reap exactly what the Peace Process has produced in the past two-and-a-half decades: precisely nothing.”

Shalom Rav: Yes, Zionism is Settler Colonialism

“Is Zionism “settler colonialism?” It’s an important question that is increasingly invoked in public debates over Israel/Palestine – and BDS in particular.

While I personally do believe Israel to be a settler colonial state, I think it’s critical to understand what we mean when we use this term, what it means in the context of Israel/Palestine, and its implications for the wider struggle against systems of oppression in the US and throughout the world.

Let’s start with the definition itself. Many people use the term “settler colonialism” and “colonialism” interchangeably, but they are not in fact the same thing. Colonialism is defined by the Collins Dictionary as “the policy and practice of a power in extending control over weaker peoples or areas.” Historically speaking, it generally refers to specific European imperial powers during a period that lasted from the 16th to mid-20th centuries.

“Settler colonialism,” is a different concept, as Professor of Anthropology Tate A. LeFevre explains:

Though often conflated with colonialism more generally, settler colonialism is a distinct imperial formation. Both colonialism and settler colonialism are premised on exogenous domination, but only settler colonialism seeks to replace the original population of the colonized territory with a new society of settlers (usually from the colonial metropole). This new society needs land, and so settler colonialism depends primarily on access to territory. Britain, for example, implemented the doctrine of “terra nullius” (“land belonging to no one”) to claim sovereignty over Australia. The entire continent was thereby declared legally uninhabited, despite millennia of Aboriginal occupation.

In other words, while colonialism typically refers to events, settler-colonialism is viewed as an ongoing process. Professor LeFevre puts it this way: “Settler colonialism is premised on occupation and the elimination of the native population, while colonialism is primarily about conquest.”

Given this definition, the claim that Zionism is a form of settler colonialism it is not at all inappropriate and certainly not anti-Semitic (as some of the more vociferous Israel advocates will often claim).

There is, for instance, a striking similarity between the British colonial concept of “terra nullius” and the early Zionist slogan, “a land without a people for a people without a land.” This is not say that Zionists viewed the land as literally empty – they most certainly recognized the existence of an Arab population in Palestine. It does mean, however, that they did not always factor its indigenous inhabitants into their equations – and when they did, it was invariably as a problem to be dealt with.

The father of modern Zionism made this clear in his diary when he wrote of Palestinian Arabs:

We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries whilst denying it any employment in our own country.

David Ben-Gurion expressed similar intentions in a 1937 letter to his son Amos (who was critical of his father’s intention to support the 1937 Peel Commission partition plan):

My assumption (which is why I am a fervent proponent of a state, even though it is now linked to partition) is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning…

The establishment of a state, even if only on a portion of the land, is the maximal reinforcement of our strength at the present time and a powerful boost to our historical endeavors to liberate the entire country.

We shall admit into the state all the Jews we can. We firmly believe that we can admit more than two million Jews. We shall build a multi-faceted Jewish economy– agricultural, industrial, and maritime. We shall organize an advanced defense force—a superior army which I have no doubt will be one of the best  armies in the world. At that point I am confident that we would not fail in settling in the remaining parts of the country, through agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbors, or through some other means.

Thanks to Israeli historians such as Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev and Ilan Pappe, we now know that the creation of Israel was accomplished through “some other means.”  More recently, journalist Avi Shavit recently made reference to this ignoble history in his book, “My Promised Land.” The most chilling chapter (which was reprinted in the New Yorker magazine) describes in detail the depopulation of the Palestinian village of Lydda.

Even more chilling are Shavit’s musings on the meaning of this tragic event:

Looking straight ahead at Lydda, I wonder if peace is possible. Our side is clear: we had to come into the Lydda Valley and we had to take the Lydda Valley. There is no other home for us, and there was no other way. But the Arabs’ side, the Palestinian side, is equally clear: they cannot forget Lydda and they cannot forgive us for Lydda. You can argue that it is not the occupation of 1967 that is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but the tragedy of 1948. It’s not only the settlements that are an obstacle to peace but the Palestinians’ yearning to return, one way or another, to Lydda and to dozens of other towns and villages that vanished during one cataclysmic year. But the Jewish State cannot let them return.

Many who reject the “Zionism as Settler Colonialism” label often argue that this claim ignores the historic and Biblical connection of the Jewish people to the land – and that Jews are its “true indigenous people” who have been longing for a return and restoration to their ancient homeland for centuries.

Leaving aside the use of a profoundly ahistorical document such as the Bible as justification for the establishment for a modern Jewish nation state, let’s look more closely at the Zionist claim of Jewish indigeneity to the land.

It is certainly true following the destruction of the Temple in 73 CE and the spread of the Jewish people throughout the diaspora, Jewish tradition continued to maintain an important attachment to the land of Israel. Eretz Yisrael (“the Land of Israel”) is a central subject in many sacred Jewish texts and numerous traditional Jewish prayers express a longing for a return of the Jewish people to the land. It is also true that there have been small Jewish communities in historic Palestine throughout the ages and that pilgrimage to Eretz Yisrael was considered to be a mitzvah  (“or sacred commandment”.)

However, it is important to note that the Jewish attachment to this land has traditionally been expressed as an inherently religious connection. From its very beginnings, Judaism has spiritualized the concept of the land. Moreover, throughout the centuries, rabbinical authorities strictly prohibited an en masse return to the land in order to establish a Third Jewish Commonwealth. Such an act was viewed as an anathema – a profane forcing of God’s hand. The restoration of the Jewish People to the land would only occur with the coming of the Messiah and the onset of the Messianic Era.

It is against this context that we must understand Zionism as a modern political movement, arising in the 19th century as an explicit rejection of Jewish tradition. While Judaism was a diaspora-based religion that taught God could be found anywhere in the world, Zionism preached “shlilat hagalut” (“negation of the diaspora”), advocating for a literal return to the land in order to establish a modern Jewish nation state. Influenced by the European nationalisms of its day, Zionism sought to create a new kind of Judaism and indeed, a new kind of Jew.

This radical revisioning of Jewish life and culture in many ways represents the exact opposite of indigeneity. Indigenous peoples by definition maintain unique cultural and linguistic practices distinctive to their presence in a particular land. Zionism created a completely new Hebraic Jewish culture – one that was deeply influenced by a European Ashkenazic ethos and transplanted into the Middle East. To be clear: this is not to say that Jews have no connection to this land and no right to live there, only that the claim of Jewish indigeneity is ideological, rather than factual – and that this claim has had a devastating impact on the actual indigenous people of this land.

Other critics of the settler colonialist label point out that there is no such thing as a discrete “Zionism;” that this movement was historically made up of many different Zionisms, not all of which shared the same political goals. There were, for instance, cultural Zionists such as Ahad Ha’am who did not share Herzl’s desire of a Jewish political state but rather advocated for a gradual colonization of Palestine that would make it the center of a Jewish cultural renaissance. There also Zionists such as Judah Magnes and Hannah Arendt, who believed in the creation of a bi-national Jewish/Arab state in Palestine.

These variants of Zionism represent an important fact of history. But it is also true that they are precisely that: part of the historical past. If Magnes or Arendt were living today, they would surely be considered “anti-Zionist”. In the end, the form of Zionism that ultimately triumphed was the political Zionism advocated by those who sought to create a sovereign Jewish state in historic Palestine. And it was this Zionism that aimed to solve the problem of Palestine’s indigenous population “through some other means” – that is, by means of settler colonialism.

In one of the most comprehensive treatments I’ve yet read on this subject, Bennett Muraskin writes:

Zionism is described by its supporters as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, but it must be recognized that until the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the land it sought to liberate had a minority of Jews, consisting mainly of recent Europeans immigrants living under the protection of an imperial power. When the British turned against the Jewish colony, the Zionists succeeded in liberating themselves, but in the war it fought with the Palestinian Arabs and Arab armies, the Zionists dispossessed the native population.

In this sense, Israel is a colonial settler state.

Muraskin, however, then goes on to list the ways that make Israel different from other settler colonial states.  His intention, I assume, is to leave open the possibility that it somehow isn’t. This equivocal attitude is obvious from the outset – Muraskin’s article is actually entitled “Is Israel a Colonial Settler State? Perhaps but with Lots of Provisos.”

In the end, however, I believe these “provisos” only demonstrate that Zionism represents but one form of settler colonialism. One obvious difference is that Israel was created by what began as a small movement, not an existing colonial power such as Great Britain, France or Belgium. However it is also true that Israel could never have been created without the help of great world powers (Britain and later the US) who supported the creation of the Jewish state because it advanced their own imperial agendas. James Baldwin put it very aptly in 1979: “The state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of the Western interests.”

In the end, this insight explains why the debate over this term is more than just academic or semantical. Israel’s oppressive policies against the Palestinians do not exist in a vacuum. They are but part of a larger hegemonic system of white supremacy and institutionalized racism that exists in the US and throughout the world.

As Professor LeFevre writes, “Settler colonialism does not really ever ‘end.’”  Perhaps the first step in that direction is to call it out for what it really and truly is.”

Apartheid

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Wikipedia: Apartheid

Apartheid (“separateness”) was a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1991. It was based on white supremacy and the repression of the majority of the population – black and mixed-race (“Coloured”) Africans – for the benefit of the politically dominant group, white Afrikaners.

AJ+ Apartheid Explained

Wikipedia: Accusations of apartheid

“Comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel are increasingly made. Israelis recoil at the analogy, but the parallel is widely drawn in international circles.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a group in Israel with support from several EU states, asserted in 2008 that the separate road networks in the West Bank for Israelis and Palestinians, the expansion of Jewish settlements, restriction of the growth of Palestinian towns and discriminatory granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources are “a blatant violation of the principle of equality and in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa”.”

Israel Law Resource Center: ISRAELI APARTHEID – A Basic Legal Perspective

Outline of Legalized Discrimination in Israel

“In order to fulfill its goal to provide extraordinary assistance to thousands of immigrant Jews coming to live in Israel (many of whom were extremely impoverished and/or traumatized by their experience in the holocaust), the Israeli legislature (the Knesset) began passing laws that gave them special privileges in Israeli society above other peoples already living in Israel, which meant legalizing discrimination in their favor. This legalization of discrimination began immediately in 1948(Kretzmer, 1990; Jabareen, 1998).

In most democratic societies, such special assistance to needy families and individuals focused on one group only is done through non-government charitable organizations set up by other members of that same group who are doing alright. But in Israel, this was done by the government itself, who, in a democracy, is supposed to serve all citizens equally. This is why it qualifies as discrimination (no matter how well-intentioned), which is illegal according to international law (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1976)).

This discrimination in Israel manifests in six categories:

  • 1. Land Laws – Creation of Arab Ghettoes.
  • 2. Immigration & Citizenship Laws.
  • 3. Military Veteran Benefits.
  • 4. Special Positions and funding for Zionist Organizations in Government and Jewish Organizations and Events leads to Discriminatory Application of Government Programs.
  • 5. Inhumane Supression of Rebellion (up to 1966).
  • 6. Racist Harassment in Daily Life Tolerated by Government Officials.

One of the most illustrative ways to study discrimination is to study the actual laws of discrimination because this is the form that is actually finally accepted by the official law-making legislature of the country (in Israel – the Knesset), and then put into action.

If there is a significant difference between the laws and what is actually practiced in the country, then this is illustrative of what the leaders of the country think that they should appear to the world to be practicing, and also that they are aware that what they are actually practicing is considered wrong or illegal by the rest of the world.

In Israel the laws are pretty much what is actually practiced. Where there is a difference, the legal details that look bad or are illegal are hidden in regulations that are not found in the actual laws that are readily available to the public, but instead are either unpublished, or are difficult to find – for example they might only be found in the offices of the government agency that is supposed to implement them. This is especially true of many of the Israeli military orders in use in the occupation in the adjacent Palestinian territories(Shehadeh, 1985).

4. OFFICIAL U.N. LEGAL DEFINITION OF APARTHEID

Below is the official legal definition of apartheid. It is instructive to compare Israeli legalized discrimination to the official definition of apartheid.

INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON THE SUPPRESSION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF APARTHEID (18 July 1976)

  • Article I
    • 1. The States Parties to the present Convention declare that apartheid is a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.
    • 2. The States Parties to the present Convention declare criminal those organizations, institutions and individuals committing the crime of apartheid.
  • Article II
    • For the purpose of the present Convention, the term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:
      • a. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:
        • i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
        • ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
        • iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;
      • b. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;
      • c. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
      • d. Any measures, including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;
      • e. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;
      • f. Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.”

In the following chapters we examine the above 6 categories of Israeli legalized discrimination in terms of the actual laws by which they are implemented, and then in Part III, we analyze them according to the official definition of apartheid to see if there is a legal fit.

ISRAELI LEGALIZED DISCRIMINATION

(Click on this link to read any chpater)

  • 1. Land Laws – Confining Arab citizens to small areas of Israel – Ghettoes
  • 2. Immigration & Citizenship Laws
  • 3. Military Veteran Benefits Discrimination
  • 4. Special Government Positions for Zionist Organizations leads to Discrimination in Government Services
  • 5. Inhumane Suppression of Rebellion (up to 1966)
  • 6. Racist Harassment in Daily Life

…Now the analysis through comparison of Israeli legalized discrimination as found in the laws of the State of Israel to the 6 categories of crimes outlined in the International Covenant On The Suppression And Punishment Of The Crime Of Apartheid (1976):

  • 1. Denial of life and liberty to a racial group (for example by murder, serious bodily harm (torture, degrading punishment, etc.), infringement on their freedom or dignity, arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment:The strongest evidence of these types of human rights violations within Israel was the use of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 in the Palestinian population centers, but their use ended in 1966. These regulations actually include arrest and imprisonment without formal charges or trial amongst their measures.But, there is not significant evidence of widespread torture within Israel since its creation.All massacres of Palestinian civilians and POW’s by Zionist forces that would qualify as killing of a racial group occurred prior to the creation of the State of Israel. They would probably qualify as genocide, but I don’t believe they can be used as evidence that Israel is an apartheid state per se.Displacement of 750,000 civilians in 1948 (and Zionist forces were involved in this), and then forbidding them from returning to their homes after the end of the fighting probably would be considered inhumane punishment. It was done for security reasons, but it was also done so that the Zionists could then have a majority in the country they were about to create. Many actually consider this to be an example of Ethnic Cleansing.
  • 2. Deliberate imposition of inhumane living conditions:Palestinian Arabs are forced to live in poverty because of confinement in ghettoes, deliberate denial of many benefit programs (for example through discrimination in veteran benefits and area-based programs), and because their group is denied equal influence in government decision making (because Zionist organizations are given special positions throughout Israeli government).On the surface this appears to be only the side-effect of the government trying to give special privileges to the Jewish population, rather than the direct affect of malicious attempt to hurt the Arab population.But because the Israeli government knows this is happening, and continues to not do anything significant about it, then this would probably qualify as deliberate impoverishment, which would probably qualify as subjecting a racial group to inhumane living conditions based on their religion.
  • 3. Legislation forbidding a racial group from full participation in the society they live in through the denial of their basic human rights such as right to work, education, organize trade unions, peaceful association, movement, speech, etc.:Clearly the legislature of Israel has passed laws isolating Palestinian Arabs in small parts of the country separate from the main areas of commerce and culture. And clearly the legislature has passed laws keeping the Palestinian Arabs from enjoying many of the benefit programs generally available in Israeli society. Plus, in addition to the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 described above, which allowed such things as imprisonment without charges or trial, there are two instances where the Knesset has passed laws that interfere with civil rights – the 9th Amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset (1985), which inhibits free speech of politicians, and the Amutot Law (1980) which inhibits freedom of association.
  • 4. Confining a racial group to small areas separate from the rest of the country – generally called ghettoes, or bantulands (in South Africa):Israeli land policy turns most land in Israel into State land, and then up until recently, forbade leasing of State land to non-Jews for residence. Even though the discriminatory leasing is winding down, the end result is still that Palestinian Arabs are legally confined to small areas of land within rural Israel (now less than 5%), and outside these areas, they are essentially only allowed to lease lands which were once their own.. This fits the above part of the official legal definition of Apartheid.
  • 5. Exploitation of the labor of the racial group, especially forced labor:Within Israel, there is no evidence that Palestinian Arabs are enslaved or forced to work against their will, but there is evidence of wage discrimination where Arabs are not paid as much as Jews for the same type of work.
  • 6. Oppression of rebellion against apartheid, specifically because they oppose the apartheid system of their country:Although there are a wide range of political and legal services organizations allowed to exist in Israel which actively oppose and fight against the legalized discrimination found in Israel, which forms the basis of the claim that Israel is an Apartheid State, there were numbers of ways that their ability to fight against Apartheid were inhibited legally.The most important example was the use up to 1966 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 within the Palestinian population centers, which are described above.But, in addition to this, politicians who wish to run for membership in the Knesset are inhibited from speaking about equal rights because of the 9th Amendment of 1985, to the Basic Law: The Knesset, and the Amutot Law of 1980 which inhibits membership in non-profit organizations that might work for controversial goals (also described above).

This analysis shows that there are number of examples practiced by the State of Israel for all 6 categories of crimes found in the official definition of the crime of Apartheid.

Thus, this analysis shows that Israel practices Apartheid – is an Apartheid State.

IV. CONCLUSIONS

This article examines violations of human rights and international law in legal terms and in terms of the complex of laws found in the State of Israel. But it is important to remember that these legal violations represent very real suffering – very intense suffering, which naturally would lead to intense rage. So, in the Middle East, when we actually visit the conflicted areas, we do not find abstract legal patterns, but real people suffering and dying, families being made homeless, falling into poverty, and being destroyed. When we remember this, then we can begin to understand the rage.

But no one seriously concerned with justice, freedom and equality, would ever support violent terrorism and the random killing of civilians, but it is important not to condemn an entire rebellion for one tactic which we might disagree with. It is important to look at the big picture – the historic context of the rebellion to see the truth of what is going on. And thus we can do this, and consequently support the overall rebellion, while condemning that one tactic which we disagree with.

The Palestinian/Israeli conflict is distinguished by multiple tragic ironies.

The Zionists chose a place to start a country in order to create a place where they would be safe, but they have so antagonized the native peoples of that area, that the area has now become a war zone where no one is safe.

The Zionist set out to build a democracy distinguished by its practice of justice, freedom and equality, but this goal conflicted with its other national goal to create a Jewish State where the Jewish people would be taken special care of. In addition, they chose a region to do this in where the Jewish people are actually the minority. The end result is a nation that is known for its massive violation of human rights, international law, its system of legalized discrimination, and its practice of ethnic cleansing (in order to make the Jewish people the majority population in the area), exploitation and oppression, and possibly genocide in the territories it occupies.

The Israelis want the world to see their opponents as terrorists, but nothing undercuts international law and reform more than the Israelis being able to get away with multiple violations of international law and morality, with the aid and support of the United States of America, who supposedly is trying to spread democracy across the world.

In fact, resentment and anger toward Israel, and support for it by the USA, is one of the main factors motivating world terrorism.

The Israelis want opponents declared to be anti-Semites, but nothing spreads anger and resentment for Israel more than their own illegal inhumane practices.

The Jewish people used to be known as an oppressed minority, but now because of the efforts of the Israeli government to identify the Israeli government and its practices with the Jewish people, there is now tremendous growth of anti-Semitism (hatred against Jews) across the globe, and the Jews are now being identified with inhumane unjust violation of laws, instead of as victims of injustice.

Besides hatred based on religion being wrong and immoral, this is also unfair because there are many Jews, including within Israel, who oppose the inhumane and illegal policies and practices of the Israeli government.

The Jewish religion is known for its tradition of law and justice, but now the Israelis have built a country which was originally intended to be a refuge for the Jewish people, has now become known for its inhumane violations of law.

The Israelis have obviously lost their moral compass, and it is hurting everyone.

Israeli actions and policies in the occupied territories and toward the Palestinian people within Israel are holding up progress in building up international relations across every divide and difference, because poorer people have come to resent how the Israeli government is getting away with so much wrong.

The world must stop the Israeli government now, so that the suffering and killing will finally stop, so that a sense of justice can be felt in the Middle East, and the rest of the world, which will lessen the attraction of terrorism, and that international law can be redeemed, and thus the world can get back to developing international law and order to protect international humanity and its prosperity.

The Israeli government must not be allowed to get away with violating international law with impunity. This not only allows tremendous suffering to continue, which is immoral, but it undermines international law in general by setting an example that it can be violated without receiving consequences. This undermines international law and order, and sets back the world to more dark, primitive times when the strong dominated the weak, and the individual suffered without recourse to assistance or justice.”

Adalah: The Discriminatory Laws Database

“Adalah’s Discriminatory Laws Database (DLD) is an online resource comprising a list of over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.  The discrimination in these laws is either explicit – “discrimination on its face” – or, more often, the laws are worded in a seemingly neutral manner, but have or will likely have a disparate impact on Palestinians in their implementation.

These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention. Some of the laws also discriminate against other groups such as gays, non-religious Jews, and Palestinian refugees.

The database, published in Arabic, Hebrew and English, summarizes the contents of each law, the circumstances of the law’s enactment, and the grounds for its classification as a discriminatory law. Where available, translations of the laws into English and/or Arabic are made available alongside the original Hebrew texts.

With the DLD, Adalah aims to raise awareness of these laws and the damaging impact they have on Palestinians in multiple spheres of life, and to challenge the commonly-repeated claim that Israel is a democratic state in which all citizens enjoy equal rights under the law.

Click to explore the Discriminatory Laws Database

Background

Successive Israeli governments regularly enact legislation which excludes, ignores, and discriminates against the Palestinian Arab minority. Since the establishment of the state, Israel has relied upon these laws to ground their discriminatory treatment of Arab citizens and allow the unequal status and unequal treatment of Jewish and Arab citizens to persist.

Adalah’s General Director, Hassan Jabareen, on discriminatory laws enacted during 2009-2012:

From 2009 to the present, the Israeli elections have brought to power the most right‐wing government coalitions in the history of Israel, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Members of Knesset (MKs)  in these governments have introduced and continue to table a flood of discriminatory legislation.

These new laws and bills seek, inter alia, to dispossess and exclude Palestinians from the land; turn Palestinians’ citizenship from a right into a conditional privilege; undermine the ability of Palestinian citizens of Israel and their parliamentary representatives to participate in the political life of the country; criminalize political expression or acts that question the Jewish or Zionist nature of the state; and privilege Israeli Jewish citizens in the allocation of state resources.

Op-eds and articles:

Dehumanization

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Pamela Geller’s (right) American Freedom Defense Initiative’s Islamophobic ad campaign

The Nation: The War Between the Civilized Man and Pamela Geller

“The story began in August, when Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative splashed a series of crude, anti-Muslim advertisements across San Francisco buses. It has continued into September and October with Geller and AFDI splattering the ads across ten of New York City’s busiest subway stations as well as Metro stations in Washington, DC, and light-rail trains and busses in Portland, Oregon. In all four cities, the transit authorities expressed dismay at the ads, which feature Geller’s signature mix of Islamophobia and ultra-Zionism. And both the New York and DC transit authorities initially rejected them. But after Geller sued (with the help of anti-Muslim agitator and attorney, David Yerushalmi), federal judges gave Geller the go-ahead to offend. The ads went up. Their message: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” And then, in smaller letters sandwiched between two Stars of David: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” …

…For all the outrage aroused by the ads, there has also been screeching silence, particularly from the far-right precincts of the Jewish community, where Geller-style Islamophobia often gets a warmer reception than many would care to admit. The lobbying behemoth, AIPAC, has remained notably mute about the subway campaign, as have the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America, according to Open Zion’s Sigal Samuel. “We have no comment at this time,” an anonymous Orthodox Union spokesperson told Samuel. As for the Zionist Organization of America, it has also kept mum, though the president of its Los Angeles chapter, Paul Schnee, made his position pungently clear in August when he penned a piece praising Geller’s San Francisco bus ads.

“I’m sure I speak for many members of the public when I thank Ms. Geller for her efforts in courageously defying political correctness and speaking the truth about the nature of both Israel and America’s religiously inspired enemies,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, conservative pundits have gone full mic in support of the ad, spraying editorial pages with pro-Geller vitriol and bluster. At the English-language Jerusalem Post, Israel Kasnett published a hyperventilating piece titled “Support the civilized man,” in which he declared that Geller “has it right” and urged the West to “stop apologizing to the Muslim world, get behind Israel and defeat Jihad.” More recently, William McGurn published a piece in The Wall Street Journal in which he opined, “Whatever the agenda of those behind this ad might be, the question remains: What part of that statement is not true?”

If all of this neocon blather is predictable, it is also unforgivable. Out of the whole, overstuffed universe of bigots and haters, Geller should be an obvious pariah, a fringe figure whose role as the muse of Anders Breivik, if nothing else, should have made her an extremist non grata. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled her organizations, Stop Islamization of America and AFDI, hate-groups. So has the ADL. To denounce Geller’s bigotry poses almost as little political risk as denouncing David Duke’s. To applaud it is as inexcusable as complimenting his sheet…

…Though Geller and her crew are fringe elements, they are not random or spontaneous, idiopathic lesions on the healthier whole. They are, quite sadly, part of this country, outcroppings of something big and ugly that has been seeping and creeping through the body politic for years. In the decade since September 11, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry has become an entrenched feature of our political and social landscape. It lurks in the hidden corners of everyday life—in classrooms and offices and housing complexes—as well as in the ugly scenes that occasionally explode into public consciousness. In the special registration of Middle Eastern men after 9/11. In the vicious campaign against Debbie Almontaser, the American Muslim school teacher who tried to open the Arabic-language Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) and was tarred as an extremist. In the attack on the Park51 Islamic center, more commonly (if less accurately) known as the Ground Zero mosque. In the New York Police Department’s selective surveillance of Muslim communities. And that’s just New York City. All of these instances should have called on our horror and outrage, and in all too many of them, society hasn’t lived up…

…As Donna Nevel, a founding member of Jews Against Islamophobia, told me in an e-mail, “The Geller ads do not operate alone but take place in the context of the NYPD surveillance program and the ongoing targeting of the Muslim community and communities of color in this city.” The same goes for the country.”

Haaretz:  The Dehumanization Process Is Reaching Its Peak

“The scenes happen almost daily: Stabbing, shooting, sometimes a lynching. (There is already a learned public debate in Israel: Lynching, for or against?) After that the body lies on the road, sometimes covered and sometimes not, the curious and the security forces looking at it as someone looks at a hunting trophy, a few of them taking selfies as a memento.

In one of the most shocking pictures spread on the social media in the past few days, we see an armed settler in Hebron, wearing a kippa of course, standing smiling and amused in front of the body of a Palestinian whose blood is flowing from his head. The blood is spreading on the road and the happy settler is taking pictures with his cell phone, to show the kids at home.

The expectation that one of the curious passersby looking at the bodies will also think about what he sees there, and in particular about who he sees, is not realistic. These are moments of anger and lust for revenge, and these are days of incitement, in Israel too, and the bleeding body on the street is not the body of a person; it is, in the eyes of many, a carcass.

But a few minutes earlier it was still a human being, with desires, feelings and dreams, some unacceptable and twisted, but how is it possible not to think about them, if just for a moment not to try to understand them and their intentions? How is it possible not to think about what they did on their last night? Their last day? Before they left for their journey of death and suicide – after all, they knew their chances of escaping with their lives was slight. What motivated them? What did they think they would achieve? What did they want to achieve? Who were they and what happened to them in their lives?

You don’t have to be a supporter of the Palestinian struggle or a hater of Israel for these thoughts to pass through your mind. You also don’t need to be impressed by the bravery of this dead young man – and he had a great deal of courage – nor do you need to see him as a hero. Only to see him as a human being, like all human beings, who was led by something into extreme behavior, into criminal, unnecessary actions that will not bring any benefit to him or his people.

How many Israelis even think about this? And what other way is there to wage a war on terror, if not to try to understand and deal with the motive, and not just the desperate result? But it’s as if no motive exists, and the Israeli agenda prefers to ignore it. Even just mentioning it could possibly, heaven forbid, remind us that these are the bodies of human beings, a manner of thinking that has become forbidden and dangerous.

Here lie their bodies. Some of them were killed because of the despair, which everything has already been written about, some because of the hatred it gave birth to. Not a single one of them was born to kill, every one of them had a mother and father who wanted something else for their children. They were very young in their deaths, maybe too young to understand that there is no benefit whatsoever in their deaths and no justice in stabbing an elderly Jewish woman, a passerby.

But a few minutes earlier they were still human beings, and the very recognition of this is considered in Israel to be a subversive thought, outrageous and infuriating. This fury is suspect: It is part of the process of denial of the occupation. You do not need to admire their actions, nor to justify them, to admit that these are people who are no different in any way from the soldiers and the mob across from them lusting for revenge.

It would even be possible to put aside this (essential) discussion if all of them deserved death – certainly they don’t – and still relate to them as human beings. The debate in Israel is different, of course. The long, systematic process of dehumanization is now reaching its peak, when the Palestinian dead lying on the road, and not just the living, are also considered inhuman. That is why it is possible to take your own smiling picture next to a bleeding corpse and feel so good about it. Here, too, lies the key to everything: As long as they are not considered human beings, even if they are “terrorists,” there will be no justice, and of course no peace, either.”

Truthout: The Bombing of Gaza and the Dehumanization of the Palestinian People

“In light of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, we can arrive at one conclusion: in order to support it one must show a complete and total disregard for the lives of Palestinians, or at the very least believe them to be worth less than that of their Israeli counterparts. Proponents of the bombing, including the Israeli government, maintain that they are merely defending human life from the unacceptable assault of the rockets. Yet, their own actions in just a few weeks have already taken far more human lives than the rockets have in over a decade. Even more jarring is the topsy-turvy world the Israeli government and their supporters seem to inhabit. In this world aggression is labeled defense and the narrative used to justify said inversions bares little relation to realty. No mention is made of what precipitated the latest round of violence nor is any mention made of the larger context–decades long policies of oppression directed towards the Palestinian people. None of this matters since after all the Palestinians don’t seem to matter.

The loss of civilian life is always a tragedy. Indeed, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have declared the rockets fired on Israel from Gaza to be a war crime. Yet, the death and destruction of these rockets, which has claimed 61 lives in an eleven year period, hardly begins to compare to the destruction and death rote on by Israel’s so-called defense. So far Israel’s actions, which have lasted just a few weeks, have claimed the lives of more than 100 Palestinians living in Gaza. This number can sadly only be expected to rise. During the last Israeli bombing of Gaza, which can only be described a massacre, 1,4000 Palestinians were killed during what Amnesty International called “22 days of death and destruction.” Body counts are never a legitimate war aim and there is no magic number of human lives taken that makes a war justified or unjustified. However, it is totally fallacious for a party to declare itself to be defending human life when its actions kill far more people than the actions it purports to stop.

The asymmetry and disproportionate violence is not the only problem with the pro-war narrative. The centerpiece of this narrative, that Israel is “responding” to the rocket fire of Hamas therefore we must forgive Israel for killing scores of civilians, is false. During this round of violence, like during Operation Cast Lead, it is Israel that broke the ceasefire by killing a Palestinian child. The simple reality is that Israel’s defense isn’t defense at all, it is aggression.

This narrative also neglects the fact that Gaza is completely blockaded by Israel. Noam Chomsky has called Gaza an “open-air prison”– a sentiment shared by the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron. Human rights groups and humanitarian bodies like Amnesty International and the International Commission of the Red Cross have used another word to describe situation–”collective punishment”–a practice that is illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

How does one justify overlooking the factual reality that Israel’s actions are not a response to the rockets, that it is Israel who time and time again has broken the ceasefire, and has engaged in decades old policy of oppression and occupation? Simple: Israel’s actions are defensible only if one takes the view that Palestinian life is worth less than Israeli life. This is why Israel’s right to “defense” is infinite and extends to “defending” itself from responses to its aggression while the Palestinians only recourse to the latest round of aggressive military action or much older policies of colonization, occupation, blockades, etc. can only be tacit acceptance. This critique is not even one of violent or nonviolent resistance–nonviolent actions, such as the global civil society campaign for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions, or the call for an arms embargo on Israel, are denied as being illegitimate responses. No resistance by the Palestinian people to Israel’s multifaceted aggression and oppression is ever allowable.

War always rests on the dehumanization of the “enemy.” The dehumanization of the Palestinian people long predates the latest violence—indeed, it is a prerequisite for Israel’s decades-long expansionist policies. Certainly, Israel and its defenders will claim that these policies too are for security, but a state that refuses to define its borders while building colonial outposts for civilian populations in an allegedly hostile territory is not a state that seeks security.”

Further Readings

Fars New Agency: Ben Norton: Israel Is the Master of Racism and Dehumanization

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Israeli Rightwing Government Parties

Now World: The Rise of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu | NowThis World

Washington Post: Israeli electoral committee bans Arab candidates, allows extreme right to run

A decision by Israel’s electoral committee to ban two Arab parties and a candidate from a third Arab-led slate from running in elections, while allowing a far-right-wing candidate despite recommendations from the attorney general to ban him, was sharply criticized Thursday by leaders of Israel’s Arab community.

The ruling was called unreasonable and racist, and it sparked fears among Israeli Arabs that the country’s 1.8 million Arab citizens could be further politically marginalized ahead of April 9 parliamentary elections.

The decision to ban the parties, which are running on a united ticket, and candidate, Ofer Cassif, followed petitions submitted by three right-wing factions, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

The two parties and Cassif now plan to appeal to the Supreme Court next week, and a panel of nine judges will make a final ruling on whether they can run in elections for the parliament, called the Knesset.

In a hearing Wednesday of the Central Elections Committee, it was argued that the two parties, Balad and the United Arab List, as well as Cassif — a politics professor and the only Jewish candidate for the Arab-majority Hadash party — had either expressed views supporting terror or rejected Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

“Those who support terrorism will not be in the Israeli Knesset!” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Parties and individuals can be disqualified if they reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, incite racism, or express support for an enemy state or for terrorist organizations.

Hanin Zoabi, an outgoing parliamentarian for Balad, faced such petitions in the past for expressing support for Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, and for calling Israeli soldiers murderers.

But Adalah, a legal center advocating for Arab minority rights in Israel, said the bans were politically motivated, “reflecting the McCarthyist persecution of those whose views are not acceptable to Israel’s political right.”

Hassan Jabareen, the group’s general director, said that there have long been attempts to disqualify Arab candidates but that this was the first time a Jewish candidate was banned for holding left-wing views. He said this was due to a deal struck recently between Netanyahu and the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and because of a nationalistic nation-state law — which declared Israel a national homeland for Jews and prioritized Jewish-only communities — passed last year.

[Contentious nation-state law declaring Israel the Jewish homeland approved by lawmakers]

Arab citizens comprise roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population. Since the country was founded in 1948, Arabs have been encouraged to run for political office, and in the last election an amalgamation of four Arab-led parties known as the Joint List became the third-largest faction in the Knesset.

[Israel’s Arab political parties have united for the first time]

But that arrangement broke down, leading to two separate slates. The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) joined with the Arab Movement for Renewal (Ta’al), and the National Democratic Assembly (Balad) joined with the United Arab List (Ra’am). Recent polls project Hadash-Ta’al to win nine seats in the 120-seat parliament and Balad-Ra’am around five.

The Central Elections Committee decision to ban Balad-Ra’am and Cassif came hours after it rejected a petition submitted by left-wing parties and a recommendation by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to stop Otzma Yehudit leader Michael Ben Ari from running.

Translated as “Jewish Power,” Otzma Yehudit includes followers of the extremist U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose original party, Kach, was outlawed in Israel and is designated as a terrorist organization in the United States.

To widespread criticism Netanyahu last month reached a deal with the group, paving the way for it to gain at least one seat in the Knesset.

[American Israel lobby condemns Netanyahu deal with far-right party]

Hadash party leader Ayman Odeh said it was ironic that “Kahanists, who believe Israel should be only for the Jews and that the Arab population should be forcibly transferred, are now seen as legitimate, while those who advocate for peace are not allowed to run for the Knesset.”

While the case for Balad-Ra’am and Cassif will be heard next week by the Supreme Court, some Arab politicians are worried that the electoral committee’s decision will further sideline Arab citizens and discourage them from going to the polls.

Balad candidate Heba Yazbak said that Arab voters already felt marginalized and that if the ban on her party is not reversed, calls to boycott from within her community would be magnified.

“What is happening in Israel today is very dangerous,” she said. “And we are worried that the coming government will make us feel even more excluded from this country.”

Further Reading