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Israeli military detains driver, confiscates vehicle donated for transport of schoolchildren in South Hebron Hills

CPTnet | November 19,  2013

On 18 November 2013 at 11:00, Mufid Abu Qbeita—the driver for the students who live in the South Hebron Hills area that the Israeli military has designated as “Firing Zone 918”—was driving children back to their homes from Al Fakheit school. Israeli Security Forces and representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration stopped him near Al-Sfai, one of the villages in the Firing Zone, while he had six children in the car.

Soldiers took his ID and detained him for thirty minutes; afterwards, they told him to follow them to Gush Etzion Police Station. Two soldiers accompanied Abu Qbeita in the car. He had to leave all six children in Al-Sfai.

Abu Qbeita informed the soldiers that the jeep belonged to the Palestinian Ministry of Education and was donated by Japan, but they still forced him to drive to the settlement of Gush Etzion. After several hours, they released him, but the jeep remains at the police station. When Abu Qbeita asked why the soldiers had confiscated the jeep, they answered, “Because you were driving in the firing zone of the South Hebron Hills which is not allowed.”

CPT, EAPPI and Operation Dove take turns accompanying Abu Qbeita and the SUV from the city of Yatta into the Firing Zone during the week, in order to prevent incidents like the above occurring, but until recently, once in the zone, he had not faced problems. On 27 October, eight Israeli soldiers detained him, verbally abused him, and then beat him on his abdomen, face, and back. Afterwards, they forced him drive over spikes used to stop vehicles at army checkpoints to puncture the SUV’s tires.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Susiya resists mass demolition orders

“We will not give up; to give up is to die”

International Solidarity Movement | June 27, 2013

Susiya, Occupied Palestine – Today, June 27, 2013, the Israeli Civil Administration served thirty-four demolition orders in the Susiya village, which is in Area C and surrounded by the Israeli colony of Suseya.  Due to previous demolition orders, every existing structure in the village is now threatened with destruction if they do not obtain permits by July 17.

Original copies of all the demolition orders served today (Photo by ISM)

Original copies of all the demolition orders served today (Photo by ISM)

The residents of Susiya include more than thirty families, who were all evacuated from their homes in the old Susiya village and forced to relocate 200 meters to the southeast, in 1986.  Susiya residents collaborate with the nearby villages in Masafer Yatta, a closed military “firing zone,” also in Area C and threatened with demolition.  On July 15, a hearing will decide whether all the villages in Masafer Yatta can be evacuated by the military.  Hafez Huraini, leader of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee and himself a refugee from 1948, emphasizes that the villagers in Susiya are targeted simply for existing, so everything they do from grazing sheep to visiting family members in the nearby city of Yatta draws violence from the Israeli military and the local settlers.

Susiya has faced six mass demolitions since the establishment of the Israeli Suseya colony in 1983.  The last wave of demolitions in 2011 repeatedly displaced 37 people including 20 children [1]. Residents of Susiya, most of whom rely on subsistence agriculture, are subject to some of the worst living conditions in the West Bank.  Their houses were destroyed by Israeli forces and they now live in tents and shelters, paying more than five times the price nearby villages pay for water and consuming less than 1/3 of the WHO standard per capita [2].  Settlers have violently denied Susiya residents access to over 300 hectares of their land, including 23 water cisterns.  Documented cases of settler violence include beatings, verbal harassment and destruction of property.  Settlers then annex parts of the land by exploiting the Palestinian owners’ inability to access their land.

Of over 120 complaints that have been filed based on monitoring from Rabbis for Human Rights, regarding settler attacks and damage to property, around 95 percent have been closed with no action taken.  In 2010, when 55 Susiya residents petitioned the High Court to be granted access to their land, the State responded that it intended to map land ownership of the area.  Since then they have only closed to settlers 13% of the land Palestinians have been denied access to, reversing only one incursion [3].

Susiya has been the site of creative non-violent resistance for years, resistance that is continually met with brutality.  Events have included marches, picnics on land likely to be confiscated, and Palestinian “outposts.”  This coming Saturday Susiya will be part of a festival in the South Hebron Hills aimed at raising awareness about the situation of Masafer Yatta residents and stress their right to remain on their land [4].  In the words of Hafez Huraini, coordinator of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, “We will not give up.”

Sources:

[1] Strickland, Patrick O. “Palestine’s Front Line: The Struggle for Susiya.” Palestine Note RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2013.

[2] “Susiya: At Imminent Risk of Forced Displacement.” Susiya: At Imminent Risk of Forced Displacement – OCHA Factsheet (30 March 2012). N.p., Mar. 2012. Web. 27 June 2013.

[3] “South Hebron Hills.” Khirbet Susiya. N.p., 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

[4] Al Mufaqarah. “Al Mufaqarah R-Exist.” Weblog post. Al Mufaqarah RExist. N.p., 24 June 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rawabi: Israeli Model for “Neo-Palestinian” City

By Abbad Yehya | Al Akhbar | June 1, 2012

Ramallah – Halfway between occupied Jerusalem and Nablus, in middle of the West Bank and 9km north of Ramallah, private Palestinian funds, generously supported by Qatar, and protected by the occupation army, are building a city for the “new Palestinians,” as US General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator for Israel-Palestinian Authority in Tel Aviv, calls them.

Rawabi is a “Palestinian settlement” currently under construction at a cost nearing US$1 billion. It is located on a 6,300-dunum (6.3 square kilometers) piece of land seized by the Palestinian Authority (PA) through a decree signed by president Mahmoud Abbas in November 2009.

After a failed attempt by landowners to reverse the decision or reduce its impact, the land was bought by businessman Bashar al-Masri. On several occasions, al-Masri called on Israelis to buy apartments and houses in his city and become neighbors with the “new Palestinians.”

In the nearby village of Attara, residents whisper about Israeli officers who visit the city to eat breakfast with its developers. The visits are frequent and include officers from the Israeli Civil Administration accompanied by army units and border guards.

Villagers speak about soldiers who man the Attara roadblock, allowing everyone related to the Rawabi project to pass through while barring the flow of regular Palestinians.

Things were made clear following friendly conversations al-Masri had with the Israeli press. He sent out statements to appease “the neighbors” and inform them that everything is under control and security prevails, due to solid collaboration with the occupation army.

This is a new phase of spatial engineering. Israel went to war against the old camps and towns that were immune to infiltration during the intifada. It sought to destroy spaces of resistance in Palestinian towns. It even rebuilt Jenin in an exposed and permeable manner, financed by the United Arab Emirates.

Now, the architecture of Rawabi will suit the needs of the colonialist invaders. It will stand before them completely exposed. Ironically, the money for it also came from the Gulf. Thus, the architectural style bears a close resemblance to Israeli settlements.

Architect Lynn Jabri analyzed the building style in Rawabi. She compares the style to the criteria used to build Israeli settlements in mountainous regions, according to a guide used by the Israeli Construction and Housing Ministry. The same criteria are all applied in the city (with the exception of painting the roofs red for the Israeli air force to identify).

Jabri believes that “the search for a modern Palestinian architectural style remains superficial and does not exceed some formal features, without the proper understanding of local architecture. Actually, Rawabi’s “Palestinian” architects are proposing an architecture that looks Israeli.”

Bashar al-Masri considers the project to be part of building the Palestinian state. But he said in a “very friendly” interview with Israeli TV Channel 10 that he visited the Modi’in luxury settlement west of Ramallah to learn from the building experience there and create a better model.

On the way to the largest investment project in Palestine and inside the city itself, countless cameras monitor everything in sight. Nobody knows exactly who sits behind the monitors and sees all that is displayed.

The exposed nature of Rawabi is manifold: Broad streets, buildings aligned according to a strict plan, and a service center looking more like a control tower above the city. Thus, controlling the city becomes no more difficult than taking a pleasant ride in a military Jeep, as a young man from Ajoul, a village being suffocated by the project, likes to put it.

This is the other similarity with early Zionist colonies which erected control towers at the highest point in the settlement as part of their absolute security regulations.

Speaking about the sustainability of the project, Rawabi’s website asks visitors to plant a tree in the city because “the natural beauty of the country has been damaged by war, development, neglect, and climate change.”

The text fails to mention who carried out the ethnic and spatial cleansing of Palestine, destroyed its environment, then brought trees to plant and cover their crimes. Rawabi wants to mimic the Jewish National Fund’s project of planting trees in villages whose residents were expelled during and after the Nakba.

The city’s planners, enamored by Ramallah’s opulent neighborhoods, did not forget to build a mosque and a church. They even brought religious crews to run them following the inauguration of the city in front of potential clients and residents.

Rawabi does not tire of delegations and visitors. It is now on the map for international travelers, politicians, economists, even athletes. Al-Masri speaks proudly about his city, whether to Palestinian security officers or the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.

The city is in harmony with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s rhetoric of building a state and its institutions. It is part of the hackneyed propaganda about “the Palestinians’ right and worthiness to live.”

In following the rhetoric of the PA and its supporters, the project owners attempt to create a fantasy completely detached from the bitter reality.

Al-Masri speaks of the city’s five gates, leading to Jerusalem, Yafa, Nablus, Gaza, and Qatar’s Capital, Doha. The latter is the location of Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, which is jointly owned by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and al-Masri’s Massar International.

The separation walls, the segregation, and the Green Line, along with a bitter history of 64 years of occupation, are nowhere to be seen in Rawabi’s advertising campaign. “It has a superb view of the Mediterranean,” they say.

From the onset, the PA wholeheartedly supported the project. In May 2008, it held the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem in total collaboration with the Israeli army and government to finance two projects, Rawabi and the Rihan suburbs.

Thus, Rawabi is promoted as a solution to the deteriorating economic situation in language full of numbers: 10,000 new jobs in the city and the commercial activity of at least 40,000 residents.

But there is a deliberate disregard for the role of the occupation in the economic situation of Palestinians. Palestinian groups of all persuasions are either silent or complicit. This complicity is prevalent among the majority of elites and intellectuals who are afraid to challenge this “national” project and its unprecedented media juggernaut.

City planners say that Palestinian expertise has returned from outside the country to work on this city. But they fail to mention that the economic return is based on the occupier’s criteria and the time frame of the project.

Similarly, there is increased talk of the cultural and artistic life of Rawabi. We can now easily imagine the type of culture practiced in the city of “economic peace” so loved by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli press also like to talk about Rawabi. Israelis seem very interested in learning about this “new settlement.” Al-Masri was exclusively interviewed several times in the city by Channel 10, the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and others. The interviews were intended to put Israelis at ease and inform them that Rawabi is different from any other Palestinian city.

Israeli media is keen on comparing Rawabi, and some parts of Ramallah, with “Hariri’s Beirut.” There were open calls for Netanyahu and his defense minister Ehud Barak to participate in the inauguration. It is ultimately an outcome of Fayyad’s “silent revolution,” whose slogan is that Palestinians “are tired and weary of conflict and are looking for a new life.”

Al-Masri uses every occasion to insist that his company works under the regulations of the PA and its ministries, namely the Ministry of Local Government. It is expected to be transferred to a locally elected body following the delivery of apartments to the owners (the first batch will be delivered in 2013) and the markets to the investors.

The real estate firm, Bayti, will have an administrative and organizational function and will preserve the architectural style of the city and its neighborhoods. The exact scope of the private company’s authority is unknown. This will allow it to complete its spatial architecture with a social architecture consistent with neoliberalism, the socio-economic framework of General Dayton’s security plan.

One of the biggest ironies is that the only real opposition to the construction of the city came from Israelis living in nearby colonies. They started to attack the Palestinian workers until they were stopped through coordination with the Israeli army.

Israelis can enter the city as visitors, workers, and experts. Relationships with Israeli raw materials providers and experts are not even controversial. The Palestinian private sector, with all its factories and contractors, cannot provide even a third of what is required.

Knowing all of this, it seems that the settlement of Atiret, occupying the nearest hill, will be a friendly neighbor. Its residents could come to the more modern and opulent Rawabi for entertainment. The earlier misunderstanding will turn into mutual hospitality and neighborly relations.

Peace-mongers on both sides now have a model consisting of a new kind of Palestinian who gladly embraces the language of consumerism, malls, and international brands!

A few months ago, Rawabi was but a mere idea of a city for refugees who will be brought back based on strict selection criteria. Their return and residence in the city is promoted as a partial solution to the refugee question.

But such talk disappears beneath the haughty buildings of a durable city that goes against the temporary and impatient architecture of refugee camps. In Rawabi, glass will prevail, signifying the brittle and exposed nature of the setting. Its stones, “expensive and rare,” will not be fit to throw at an occupying soldier.

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Rawabi: Israeli Model for “Neo-Palestinian” City

Report: Israel issued 13,000 demolition orders against Palestinian real estate

Palestine Information Center – 26/05/2012

WEST BANK — Haaretz newspaper said the Israeli civil administration issued 13,000 demolition warnings against Palestinians accused of unlicensed construction in Area C of the West Bank.

The newspaper stated in a report that Israel intensified its construction restrictions on the Palestinian citizens in the villages and towns of the West Bank and seeks to prevent them from building through creating criminal files against them.

It said the civil administration increased the issuance of severe penalties against the Palestinians in all villages and towns located within Area C under Israel’s control.

Its report underlined that the civil administration was active recently in the demolition of many Palestinian homes and structures including schools in Al-Khalil city at the pretext of unlicensed construction.

The report pointed to the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs’ recent report which condemned Israel’s restrictions on construction permits for Palestinians and its demolition of their homes while encouraging settlement construction.

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Report: Israel issued 13,000 demolition orders against Palestinian real estate