The Myth Of Jewish Refugees From Arab Land

The Myth Of Jewish Refugees From Arab Land By Dr. Elias Akleh

Victimizing the Jews has been the successful old political trick Zionists have been using to gain international political sympathy for the Israeli cause, and to justify all aggression and terror the Israeli army perpetrates on Palestinians and on the neighboring Arab countries. Whenever the international views turn against Israel, due to its aggression, a new Jewish victimizing story pops up.

One such late story I happened to come across on page 106 of March 19th. 2007 issue of U.S. News Magazine, was titled “You deserve a factual look at… The Forgotten Refugees. Why does nobody care about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands?” The article was published as an advertisement by FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East), who claims to “publish the truth about Israel and the Middle East conflict in advertisements and letters to editors nationwide.”

The advertisement claims that there exist what it called Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and makes some comparison between these Jewish refugees and Arab refugees in an attempt to point to alleged international injustice when the UN spends “… many billions of dollars” on the Arab refugees while forgetting the Jewish refugees. The advertisement tries to avoid calling the Arab refugees by their true name: Palestinian refugees, in an attempt to deny any moral and legal responsibility of Zionist Israel in violating Palestinians’ human rights and creating Palestinian refugee problem.

The advertisement attempts to refute “A myth that Jews had an easy life in Muslim/Arab countries”. It claims that Jews under Islam were treated worse than second class citizens “governed by a system of discrimination intended to reduce Jews … to conditions of humiliation, segregation and violence”.

The truth is that Jews were treated, under Islam in the Arab World, better than any other place they had lived in the whole world at the time. They were treated like any other ethnic groups, e.g. Christians, with full citizenship that included freedom and rights like the rest of the citizens. They were allowed to live and worship freely in Jerusalem, where they were barred entrance by ancient Romans and European Christian Crusaders. When European Jews faced persecution since the start of Crusaders campaigns, they did not find any safe haven for themselves except in Islamic and Arab countries in North Africa and in the Middle East. Many of those Jews fought along side Muslim and Christian Arabs against the Crusaders, who called for the slaughter of every Jew for crucifying Jesus. In his book “Bitter Harvest” Palestinian scholar Sami Hadawi described this Jewish haven as follows:

“During the Middle Ages, North Africa and the Arab Middle East became places of refuge and a haven for the persecuted Jews of Spain and elsewhere… In the Holy Land they lived together in harmony, a harmony only disrupted when the Zionists began to claim that Palestine was the ‘rightful’ possession of the ‘Jewish people’ to the exclusion of its Moslem and Christian inhabitants”

The Jewish writer Dan Peretz described this situation in his book “The Arab Israeli Dispute” as follows: “Most Jews in Palestine belonged to old Yishuv, or community, that had settled there more for religious than for political reasons. There was little of any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tension began after first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880’s”

Although given freedom like any other citizens a group of the Jews, believing themselves to be the elite God’s chosen people, who should not mix and mingle with the others, “Goyims”, as been taught by their prophets, had isolated themselves into ghettos the same way they had lived throughout Europe. Those, who had the courage to venture out of the ghettos, had flourished and reached high employment positions in Arabic governments and societies. Many had become the financial and trade centers of the Arab World. This fact contradicts the advertisement claims that Jews “… were excluded from society, from government, and from most professions … They were barely tolerated and often… were victimized by vicious violence” Some extremist fundamentalist Jews, who had their noses up in the sky believing themselves to be the chosen people and better than all other nations, had invited rejection and intolerance from all nations, not just from Arabs, to such snobby racist attitudes.

The advertisement goes on further to claim that Jews in the Arab World were subjected to systematic violence and persecution after the establishment of Israel in 1948 and after Six Days War in 1967. “When Israel declared its statehood in 1948, programs broke out across the entire Arab/Muslim world. Thousands died in this violence… The vast majority of those Jews fled from where they had lived for centuries. They had to leave everything behind. Most of those who were able to escape found their way to the just-created state of Israel”

The programs, the advertisement does not clarify, were terrorist acts perpetrated by Zionists against Jewish communities in the Arab World, as well as throughout European countries to coerce the Jews to immigrate to Palestine to establish the alleged safe haven; Israel, on usurped Palestinian land. Zionist zealots and some mercenaries had fire-bombed Jewish synagogues and shops, damaged Jewish cemeteries, and painted hate graffiti to create anti-Jewish climate. Zionist offer of free transportation, free housing, and free salaries had encouraged a lot of Jews to surrender their fate to the Zionist plan. Those, who immigrated, had plenty of time to sell their properties before leaving.

The Arabs, contrary to the claims, did not subject their long-time neighboring Jews to violence since they distinguished between a Jew and a Zionist. Yet those Jews, who were disillusioned by Zionism and became “enemy combatants” and spies within the Arab World, had to be dealt with as such.

The advertisement brags about “Israel received every one of those Jewish refugees from Arab countries with brotherly open arms; it housed, fed and quickly integrated them into Israeli society”. It is true that Zionist Israel had received immigrant Jews, paid all expenses including transportation, rent, and monthly salaries until they were integrated in Israeli society. Yet this reception was not out of brotherly love. Those immigrant Jews were, deliberately, drowned into financial debt so that they could not leave Israel, after discovering the trap set for them, without repaying all the expenses plus interests. Young Jewish immigrants, and every new generation of their offsprings, have been conscripted into the Israeli terrorist army to kill and to be killed for the interests of rich pro-Zionist corporations of the West.

The advertisement repeats the old myth, that had been told and refuted so many times, that Palestinians had fled from Palestine after the Israeli occupation “… following the strident invocations of their leaders …so as to make room for invading Arab armies”, who according the advertisement will kill all the Jews so that Palestinians “could return to reclaim their properties and that of the Jews, all of whom would have been killed …” by Arab armies.

Palestinians, like any other people, would never leave their homes voluntarily, and Arab leaders had never invoked them to leave. Sami Hadawi refuted this claim in his book “Bitter Harvest” stating the fact that “British Broadcasting Corporation monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a US monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put”.

This myth aims to erase guilt and moral responsibilities off Jewish shoulders for perpetrating the cruelest and ugliest massacres against mostly unarmed Palestinian villagers, and parading their women and children in the streets of Jerusalem to terrorize the rest of the Palestinians into fleeing out of their villages for their lives and for their honor when Zionist terror organizations, such as Irgun and Hagana, spread the rumors of their plans to attack Palestinian villages. Jewish historian Ilan Pappe, in his book “The Link”, mentions this fact: “The Israeli forces expelled the Palestinians from every village and town they occupied. In some cases, this expulsion was accompanied by massacres of civilians as was the case in Lydda, Ramleh, Dawimiyya, Sa’sa, Ein Zietun and other places. Expulsion also accompanied by rape, looting and confiscation”.

During wars people panic and flee their homes searching for safety. Yet they have always been able to return to their homes when danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property, nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate properties of civilian population. Even if the claims were true that Palestinians left their homes on the commands of their leaders, they still have the right to return to their homes and properties that had been stolen by Zionist immigrants. This right is protected by international law as noted by the noted Jewish writer and thinker Professor Erich Fromm “In international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his right of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the Jews”.
Israel’s rejection of Palestinians’ right of return has been on the top of their political agenda, which led them to break all UN resolutions regarding this matter, break all international laws, violate Palestinians’ human rights, and reject all Arab peace initiatives.

The advertisement continues with its allegations “… the Arab countries resolutely refused to accept Arab refugees into their societies. They confined them into so-called refugee camps …to keep them as a festering sore and to make solution of the Arab/Israel conflict impossible. These refugees, whose number has by now miraculously increased from their original 650 thousands to 5 millions, are seething with hatred toward Israel, and provide the cadres for terrorists and suicide bombers”

The Arab countries, mainly Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, had received the majority of Palestinian refugees, who became a burden on the already impoverished economy of these countries, who, unlike Israel, were not receiving three billions of Dollars annually from the US. The majority of these refugees (now numbers about 7.5 million and not only 5 million) want to go back to their own homeland and their homes that were illegally occupied by terrorist Israelis. They fight to regain what is rightfully theirs, unlike the terrorist Israeli army, who fight to usurp lands of other people.

As for the solution of the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Arabs had offered Israel many peaceful solutions, yet Israelis categorically rejected them because without the conflict they could not keep usurping more lands to build “Greater Israel”. The latest Arab peace initiative of last month, March 2007, offered Israel to keep 78% of Palestine for permanent peace and normalization of diplomatic relationships with all Arab countries. Yet Israel, as usual, rejected this offer.

The advertisement acknowledges that “since 1947 there have been over 100 UN resolutions concerning Palestinian refugees, but there has not been one single resolution addressing the horrible injustice done to the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Arab states”

This paragraph refutes the advertisement’s claim by showing that the international community has recognized and acknowledged the existence of a genuine Palestinian refugee problem, and the non existence of the false called-for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. That is why “a special branch of the United Nation (UNRWA) exists for the maintenance of those refugees” (created by Israelis) as the article notices. Israel, backed by successive American administrations, had ignored those UN resolutions that aimed to solve the Palestinian refugees’ problem, rather than spending billion of Dollars “contributed by the US” as the advertisement objects. It, also, totally ignores the attention the world had focused on the issue of the Holocaust, the compensation in hundreds of billions of Dollars to Israeli Jews, making even the study of the Holocaust an international crime, and sentencing, fining and imprisoning all the renowned historians, who questioned some of its details.

The advertisement criticizes the Arab’s justifiable right to ask for compensations, and the Palestinian refugees’ legitimate right to return to their homeland, “what has been Israel for almost 60 years”, where Palestinian tribes had lived for over than three thousand years. It concludes by stating “But if there is to be any compensation, those forgotten Jewish refugees are certainly entitled to such compensation as much as the Arab refugees. Anything else would be an outrage and a great injustice”

The advertisement neglected to mention the most important point in this refugee issue, namely that the Palestinian refugees were forcefully ejected from their homes according to the Zionist ideology that is based on the idea of “people substitution”; the expulsion ‘transfer’ of Palestinians out of Palestine, and the implanting of Jews in their place. The idiom of “Jewish state is unthinkable without compulsory transfer of the Arabs to the Arab states” had been adopted since the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, and had been repeated by notorious Zionist leaders such as British Zionist Israel Zangwill, Haim Weisman, Theodor Herzl, Nahman Syrkin (founder of Social Zionism), Selig Soskin (director of Jewish National Fund), and many others.

On the other hand the so-called Jewish refugees (Zionist Jews) from Arab countries had plenty of time to plan their leave and to liquidate all their properties, and to be fed, resettled and compensated directly by American tax money, where the annual three billion Dollars financial aid pays almost $3,000.00 monthly for every Israeli, not mentioning all the economic aid and tons and tons of military equipment that are given freely to the terrorist Israeli army to inflict terror on Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians.

Finally the advertisement gives a comparison between bogus numbers of the Jews in some Arab countries before and after 1948; countries where Zionists had successfully transferred their Jewish population to occupied Palestine (Israel). It ignores to mention the large number of Jews, who are still living, flourishingly, in Northern African Muslim Arab countries, in Turkey, and even in Iran (the so-called extremist Islamic and terrorist supporting country), that houses the largest Jewish population, 25,000 of them, in the Middle East outside Israel, and are represented by a Jewish MP, Maurice Mohtamed.

The publishing organization (FLAME) of this so-called “factual look”, whose claimed purpose is the research, publication of facts, and exposing false propaganda about the Middle East, seems to do the exact opposite; it distorts the facts and spreads false propaganda instead.

The simple truth of the Arab/Israeli conflict had been reflected by Indian leader and peace teacher Mahatma Ghandi when he stated: “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France belongs to the French”


How israel’s apartheid affects land and housing ownership

Land Day 2017: Israeli authorities persist in discriminatory land housing policies against Arab-Palestinian citizens

Israel continues to sell property belonging to Palestinian refugees, place Palestinian land on the market for mass housing construction in West Bank settlements.

To mark the 41st Land Day, 30 March 2017, Adalah examined the most recent data and found that the Israel Land Authority (ILA) and the Ministry of Construction and Housing persist in their discriminatory policies against Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel in “state land” allocation policy. Examining data concerning land tenders published in 2016 by the ILA both in the State of Israel and in the territories occupied since 1967, Adalah also found that the ILA and the ministry also continue to place Palestinian land on the market for mass housing construction in illegal settlements in the 1967 Occupied Territories, and sell property belonging to Palestinian refugees, thereby further obstructing the likelihood for their right of return and land restitution
In the course of 2016, the ILA published tenders for the construction of 49,903 housing units in Jewish towns (not including 5,528 housing units in mixed cities with both Arab and Jewish populations). In addition, 4,524 housing units in the illegal settlements across the Green Line (West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights). By contrast, it published tenders for only for 4,151 housing units in Arab communities in Israel (6.4 percent), although the number of inhabitants in these towns and villages is more than double the number of settlers living in the 1967 Occupied Territories (approximately 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel, 90 percent of whom live in Arab localities as compared with over 606,000 Jewish settlers).
In addition, Israel published tenders for the construction of 49 industrial zones in 2016; five were in settlements, and nine of the tenders were published for industrial zones in Arab communities. In addition, 42 tenders for the sale of properties belonging to Palestinian refugees were also published, in contravention of international law


israel’s New law to legalise land theft does not make theft legal

New law to legalise land theft does not make theft legal

Destruction of Palestinian homes on Palestinian private land in Qalansawa, Israel. “They turned the town into one big military zone,” said journalist Samira Haj Yahia, who witnessed the demolitions. “We initially thought that they came to destroy one home. But we were stunned to see nine bulldozers and a massive police presence.” Electronic Intifada, January 2017.

Crime and punishment: Israel must face sanctions

Israel’s behaviour in passing a law legalising theft and looting [the Regulation Act] is similar to that of the criminal in Dostoyevsky’s famous novel ‘Crime and Punishment’

By Mustafa Barghouti, Al Ahram
February 22, 2017

While in Dostoyevsky’s famous novel, the criminal returns to the crime scene, the recent law of banditry and new settlement crimes passed by the Israeli Knesset has the criminal repeating his crime without realising he is thus uncovering his original crime committed in 1948, which he has deceived the world about for years when he robbed the Palestinians of their land after expelling most of them, destroying 400 Palestinian villages and intentionally Judaicising their towns such as Safad, Haifa and Akka.

Since the creation of “Israel” in 1948, we have not seen such arrogance and audacity as that of Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, Lieberman and Shaked, who recently claimed the West Bank is part of Israel and there is no place for a Palestinian state. Also, that they will annex the majority of the territories of the West Bank.

“The new law of theft” as described by Benny Begin, son of Menachem Begin, who could never be accused of being biased to the Palestinians, not only aims to legitimise annexing private Palestinian land to build illegal and illegitimate settlements, but goes even further. Namely, annexing West Bank territories without their population and eliminating the possibility of creating an independent Palestinian state. Overall, it definitively qualifies “Israel” as an apartheid and racist state, far more racist than the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Israel would not have dared commit this new crime if it wasn’t for the silence about its blatant crimes, Arab preoccupation with their own calamities, inter-Palestinian divisions, and the world’s hypocrisy about a “two-state” solution without the courage to impose sanctions on Israel. But enough is enough. It is time to exact punishment for the crime. There is no room for complacency or inaction or neglect.

Amer Makhlouf is among those whose homes were demolished in Qalansawa, a town in Israel, on 10 January. Photo by Keren Manor/ ActiveStills

Israel will never be deterred unless sanctions are enforced and ties are severed and all forms of normalisation are rejected. Most importantly, rejecting the dangerous idea proposed by Washington to hold an Arab-Israeli security meeting after all it has done. Israel will not be deterred unless it is immediately and without hesitation referred to the International Criminal Court and all forms of security coordination with Israel are severed.

Each European country that believes in a two-state solution must now recognise the Palestinian state if it has not done so already. Each country that respects and upholds international law must now tell Israel it will impose sanctions if it does not desist and rescind the law of theft and end settlement activities.

The world is witness to instances when failure to protect international law resulted in serious consequences, with the rise of Nazism and fascism, and subsequent calamities for humanity as a whole.

We, Palestinians, who are steadfast in our homeland, will remain as we are. A thorn in the side of our oppressors, a weight on their chests, patient in the face of their arrogance, clenching the smouldering coal to protect our rights, history and identity.

Palestinian physician, activist, and politician, Mustafa Barghouti serves as General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative (PNI), also known as al Mubadara. He has been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006 and is also a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 by Mairead Maguire, who won the prize in 1976. He is also a tireless advocate of nonviolent resistance against occupation and has served as the President of the International People’s Health Council.

They may have killed the notion of a Palestinian state, or what is called the “two-state solution,” but this will not annul our existence or weaken our resolve. Our enemies will find themselves unable to force us to submit to slavery and apartheid. If they don’t want a two-state solution, they will find themselves facing a one-state solution. Punishment will not only be exacted against their new crime, but their original and more horrendous crime.

There is no crime without punishment.


“Today, the Israeli Knesset shifted from a path to establish a Palestinian state, to a path of extending sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. Let there be no doubt, the Regulation Bill is what will spearhead the extension of [Israeli] sovereignty,” said a smiling Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, after the coalition agreed to forge ahead with the measure.

Outpost bill cheered, jeered as step toward annexing West Bank, Times of Israel, December 5th, 2017

 Israel admits to building homes on private Palestinian land

Ynet magazine, November 15th, 2016

Last week, when we visited Ofra, we heard from the residents who were placing their hopes in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Bayit Yehudi ministers passing the “Regulation Bill” that would retroactively legalize their homes, sparing them from demolition. Two days later, after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, they sounded far more optimistic. Now, they’re hoping the momentum created across the Atlantic Ocean would embolden the government to pass the “Regulation Bill.”

UN Sec. Council Votes to Condemn israel’s Illegal Settlements

UN Sec. Council Votes to Condemn Settlements

Vote Is 14-0 With the United States Abstaining

Netanyahu: Obama ‘Colluded’ Against Israel With UN

For the first time in 36 years, the United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution criticizing the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, calling them an obstacle to the two-state solution, and calling on Israel to reverse the expansions of the settlements. The vote was unanimous, 14-0, with only the United States abstaining.

The resolution was initially scheduled for vote on Thursday as an Egypt-sponsored measure, but Egypt withdrew it in the face of Israeli lobbying, and a push from US President-elect Donald Trump. The identical resolution was raised today by Malaysia, Senegal, Venezuela, and New Zealand, and finally got its vote.

Israeli officials again scrambled to try to block the resolution, suggesting the US owed them a veto, though that ultimately did not happen. Egypt voted in favor of the resolution despite blocking it yesterday, insisting that the delay was just a “procedural” matter and that Egypt supports Palestinian statehood more than anyone.

US Ambassador Samantha Power insisted that abstaining from the vote was in keeping with long-standing US policy, saying that they agreed with the language of the resolution, and that’s why they didn’t veto it. She also railed against the United Nations in general for not being sufficiently pro-Israel, saying the legitimacy of the UN is at stake in allowing such resolutions.

Israeli officials have indicated that the resolution will not effect any of their policies, and that they will continue with the expansion of settlements, irrespective of what the UN vote says.

Stolen Palestinian land will never belong to israel

The ways of making seized Palestinian land ‘legally’ Israeli

Land Takeover Practices Employed by Israel in the West Bank

Press release on position paper by Yesh Din
September 27, 2016

The position paper titled “Land Takeover Practices Employed by Israel in the West Bank”, published by Yesh Din, reviews and analyzes some of the methods used by various official Israeli bodies to take over land in the West Bank, as well as the results of legal proceedings undertaken by Palestinian residents, with Yesh Din’s help, in order to fight the land grab.

A survey of the proceedings in which Yesh Din represented Palestinian residents of the West Bank before the courts and various Civil Administration committees provides an overall picture of the practices and manoeuvres the Israeli authorities use in order to increase the reservoir of land meant to serve Israeli interests in the West Bank.

International law prohibits the exploitation of the occupied territory to serve the needs of the occupier. Therefore, increasing the amount of land Israel builds on requires either legal acrobatics designed to create the appearance of the rule of law, or brazen defiance of the law while law enforcement authorities turn a blind eye.

The legal proceedings led by Yesh Din, and others, have challenged the state, especially with respect to unauthorized outposts in the OPT. These proceedings have forced Israel to expose its policy regarding the issue. One example is that after many years of claiming that any illegal construction must be removed, regardless of the status of the land, more recently, Israel’s official position has been that illegal construction on privately owned Palestinian land must be removed, but, any illegal construction on public land would be retroactively authorized.

As a result of the new position presented by the state, illegal construction on privately owned Palestinian land has stopped almost completely. However, there is a trend of declaring land in the West Bank as public land, or as it is commonly referred to, state land. Though public land is meant to serve the needs of the local population of the occupied territory – in practice, the Civil Administration allocates public land almost exclusively for the use of the settlements.

In order to implement this new policy, all state authorities and Civil Administration bodies have been mobilized to favour offenders and find administrative and procedural solutions that would allow the retroactive authorization of structures or communities, instead of fulfilling their duty to enforce the law and protect the property of the local population in the occupied territory, as required under international law and according to the rulings of Israel’s High Court of Justice.

Palestinian land south of Jericho, confiscated by Israel then retroactively legalised as Israeli state land, 2015. Photo by Bernat Armangue/AP

Land take-over practices employed by Israel in the West Bank (pdf file)
To read or download full report, click the headline above

Chapter 1, Background.

One of the key aspects of Israel’s control over the West Bank is its effort towards the control of land. This effort takes place mostly in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, and it is partly manifested in the thriving settlement enterprise which Israel has established in this area. According to international humanitarian law, the establishment of Israeli communities inside the OPT– settlements and outposts alike – is forbidden.

Yet, despite this prohibition, Israel began building settlements in the West Bank almost immediately following its occupation of the area. Over the years of occupation, successive Israeli governments have initiated, approved, planned and funded settlements in the West Bank, and have instituted a system of benefits and financial incentives to encourage Israeli citizens to relocate to these settlements.

Twentyfour local and regional Israeli councils are currently active in the West Bank. These councils govern 126 settlements, where approximately 385,900 Israeli citizens live. In the 1990s, as a result of international pressure and obligations, the official building of new settlements stopped. At the same time, in order to sustain the West Bank settlement enterprise, beginning in the mid-1990s, settlements began being established without official support from the State of Israel, but with help and involvement (both directly and indirectly) from public bodies and authorities representing the State. These settlements were referred to as “unauthorized outposts”.

There are currently 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, all in Area C, with an estimated population of 10,000. Eighty of the unauthorized outposts were either partially or completely built on privately owned Palestinian land. The jurisdiction areas of many settlements are much larger than the area they actually use.

In 2013, the total area under the jurisdiction of settlements, including regional councils, stood at 1.2 million dunams (roughly 120,000 hectares), or 63% of Area C.5 In practice, the area covered by the settlement enterprise is larger, as it also includes the unauthorized outposts, many of which are outside local council jurisdiction areas, as well as their farmland.

IDF soldiers on manoeuvres at a firing zone, Palestinian land seized in the West Bank. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Palestinians are barred from entering all of these areas, by virtue of a “closed military zone” order which prohibits entry without a permit. The settlements command an area that is larger than their residential, built-up portion. Each community has a system of access roads, and each is assigned vast areas intended to ensure the residents’ safety. Many settlements include farmland, industry and commerce zones, green areas and parks, and in many of them the distance between the houses is so large, that the space they take up has no direct correlation to the number of people living in them.

Fence enclosing the Israeli settlement of Tekoa built on seized Palestinian land in the West Bank. Photo by Emily Harris/NPR

Settlements and outposts are constantly expanding, which means constant efforts to take over more land. Israeli takeover of land in the West Bank is pursued in many different ways, including: building residential and public buildings on Palestinian land as a way of creating a “fait accompli”, agricultural invasions, putting up fences around certain areas, installing structures, building roads, declaring certain areas archeological sites or nature reserves, confiscating land, declaring land as public land, declaring land as a military firing zone, attempts to have land registered by the Primary Registration Committee and more. These takeover methods fit into two broad, and somewhat complementing, categories. One category involves invading Palestinian land and using it for Israeli purposes, the other involves denying Palestinians access to land, in order to prevent them from using it for their own needs.

Legal action has proved more effective than the dangerous protests always made by Palestinians about the seizure of their land. This protest marks the 40th anniversary of ‘Land Day’ demonstrations against land confiscations by the Israeli government.

Crowds marched from the Palestinian villages of Arraba and Deir Hanna to Sakhnin to commemorate the 1976 demonstrations in which six Palestinian citizens of Israel were shot dead by Israeli police and more than 100 people were injured.

The occasion marked one of the first displays of mass coordinated action by Palestinians inside Israel, after the government published plans to expropriate around 20,000 dunums (almost 5,000 acres) of land from Sakhnin and Arraba. The land was later used to establish Jewish settlements and a military training camp.

Some of the methods Israel uses to take over land involve breaking the law. These are cases in which there is no dispute that the land in question belongs to Palestinians (whether privately owned, or public land that belongs to the natural blocs of Palestinian villages), yet still, the land is used to build structures or roads, unlawfully, without permits and without any enforcement measures by the authorities.

Another type of land grab involves more systematic, institutionalized practices Israel uses in order to change the classification and use of West Bank land. This allows Israel to expropriate possession and use of this land from Palestinian residents, in order to serve Israeli interests. Using methods available within the law, such as issuing seizure orders for military purposes, issuing public land declarations, confiscating land for public use and using various planning tools, Israel uses its bureaucracy to transfer more and more land to Israeli control and possession.

These methods share a single purpose: reducing Palestinian access to, and use of, land around Palestinian villages and communities, for the ultimate goal of effecting the loss of Palestinian connection to the land and their ability to hold on to it. Through this gradual process, more and more land is handed over to Israeli control and use, mostly to the settlements and outposts that are scattered throughout the West Bank.

Land grabs limit Palestinians’ freedom of movement, their ability to live off the land and deprives them of their personal connection to the land, their history and their collective culture.

Aside from the clear land grab, Israeli takeover of land in the West Bank has additional grave repercussions, as it severely undermines Palestinians’ freedom of movement and their ability to live off their land. It also deprives them of their personal connection to the land, their history and their collective culture.

Over the past decades, Yesh Din has been working to protect Palestinian property rights, and help Palestinians handle various manifestations of land grab involving breaches of the law, or acts that exceed authority. This legal activity has been carried out in different instances in Israel and the West Bank, primarily the High Court of Justice. Other organizations and private lawyers work alongside Yesh Din to fight for the rights of Palestinians, and to challenge Israel’s land grab policy. The results and repercussions results and repercussions presented in this document are the fruit of these joint efforts.

This report is an interim summary of Yesh Din’s legal activity in this field. It offers a glimpse into the range of practices used to keep Palestinians off land in the West Bank and help Israel take over more and more land, both overtly and covertly. This report does not purport, nor can it purport, to cover all the practices used to drive Palestinians out of land located in the West Bank. However, after ten years of legal activity, it is broad enough to attest to the wide variety of measures used, and the degree of State involvement in these actions.

In addition, a summary and analysis of the State’s responses to petitions and other legal proceedings launched by Yesh Din, and a review of the decisions made in these cases, provides an indication as to the State’s willingness to give remedy to Palestinians who are faced with illegal attempts to dispossess them and drive them away from their land.

This document groups the scores of proceedings in which Yesh Din has helped Palestinian landowners, according to seven different practices used by Israel to take over land. An explanation is provided for the type of legal proceeding used to challenge each practice, together with information on how many such proceedings Yesh Din’s legal team has filed and what issues these proceedings have covered. We have also collated the results of proceedings that were concluded.

Since legal results do not always translate into access to land, in this section, we separate the formal results of the proceedings from the results on the ground, as well as further developments that arise from the discrepancy between the legal results and the situation on the ground. Even in cases in which the court ruled in favour of landowners, the reality in the West Bank being what it is, in practice, many of these landowners do not manage to exercise their rights to the land – to access it or to cultivate it.

In some cases, Israeli security forces deny or restrict Palestinians’ access to land. In other cases, although the military does permit access (either permanently or subject to prior arrangements), Palestinian landowners are fearful of entering land that is close to settlements or outposts, feeling that their mere presence on the land puts them in danger. In the sections relating to the results of proceedings, we have included references to the significance and ramifications attached both to the rulings themselves and to their implementation. In these sections, we have attempted to provide a wider context for the implementation of the court decisions, and the practices that have developed following the legal proceedings.

An overview of all proceedings reveals that the immediate, main outcome of the legal pressure put on the State as a result of the petitions was the near complete cessation of illegal construction on privately owned Palestinian land. This was previously the main method for developing and expanding settlements and outposts. Most construction currently takes place on public land or survey land.

The pressure created by the proceedings that challenged illegal construction has also led to an official, dramatic change in Israel’s policy regarding the outposts. Ever since the building of outposts began in the 1990s, Israel’s official position has been that the outposts were unlawful and should be dismantled. In 2011, a vivid shift took place, and the State is now actively seeking legal ways to retroactively authorize the outposts and turn them into official settlements, which are considered legal under Israeli law. One clear feature of the legal work is that the legal remedy is not necessarily dependent on a ruling. Though some petitions have led to precedent-setting decisions ordering the removal of illegally – constructed structures, many petitions were stricken in the early stages of the proceedings, without a judicial decision being handed down, because State authorities had taken action to restore landowners’ rights following the submission of the petition.

In some cases, the State quickly provided the remedy sought in the petition, without a judicial decision, in order to avoid a judgment it would have to follow in similar cases in the future. In these cases, when remedy is given before a judgment is delivered, the specific remedy is obtained, but the achievement is lacking on the point of principle and does not preclude future use of the same injurious practice. In the cases in which the court did issue a judgment, the State’s attempts to delay, circumvent and even avoid upholding it have been rather conspicuous. Given these attempts, in recent years, the High Court has given the State extended periods of time to implement the court’s decisions, and stressed the obvious – the State must comply with the schedule set forth in these decisions. This document ends with a table of proceedings with references to all the petitions and judgments mentioned in it.


This only happens in occupied Palestine

This only happens in occupied Palestine

Dr Daud Abdullah | MEMO | October 7, 2016


Dr Daud Abdullah | MEMO | October 7, 2016

After a visit to Hebron in 1996, the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said wrote, “The present situation cannot last, there are too many inequities and injustices at the heart of Palestinian life.” Two decades on, there is no end in sight to the wretched conditions he deplored back then. On the contrary, they have grown worse.

Not even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s controversial decision to attend the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres was enough to bring about a token suspension of the daily torment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Immediately after his return to Ramallah, Israel declared Tel Rumeida, a neighbourhood in the Governorate of Hebron, to be a closed military area.

As is always the case when such closures are imposed, Palestinian students and residents who attempted to attend classes or go about their daily affairs were told to return to their homes until the 600 illegal Jewish settlers living in Hebron had observed their religious festivities. These celebrations are expected to last several days and so the ancient Ibrahimi Mosque was also closed to Muslim worshippers for six days.

Like their Muslim compatriots who are routinely denied access to their mosques, Christian Palestinians in Bethlehem and Jerusalem must also have permits to worship in their churches from which they are separated by the eight-metre high “security” wall. Before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Christians made up 18 per cent of Palestine’s population. Today, they account for less than 1.5 per cent. For reasons of political correctness, western politicians and church leaders have turned a blind eye to the real causes of this exodus; they have chosen instead to look for a scapegoat in alleged “persecution by Muslims”. That is palpable nonsense and plays into Israel’s nefarious hands.

In Hebron, life is far from normal for its 200,000 Palestinian inhabitants at the best of times. Every aspect of their lives is overshadowed by the activities of the settlers who now live illegally among them, with full military protection courtesy of the Israel Defence Forces. Palestinians must contend with the hideous road blocks and military checkpoints that swamp the old city and its environs. Recent reports confirm that more than 1,000 residential apartments have been vacated because of the harassment affecting the local Palestinian population. This was entirely predictable; Israel’s closure of more than 800 commercial businesses was meant to do exactly that — make life so intolerable for the locals that they will leave “of their own accord”. In Zionist terminology this is known rather sinisterly as “silent transfer.”

Elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, the system of inequity and injustice described by Edward Said is no less punitive. The predominantly farming community in Qalqiliya has been virtually encircled by Israel’s apartheid wall, with farmers separated from their land. More than 170,000 men, women and children are similarly locked in by the wall in Bethlehem. Former US President Jimmy Carter found it appalling that they had to obtain “permanent resident” permits from the occupation authorities in order to continue living in their own homes.

It does not take much to recognise the similarities between the Israeli permit system and the hated South African Pass Laws. Just as it was illegal for black Africans to enter designated “white areas” in South Africa so too is it illegal for Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip to visit Jerusalem, for example, without military permission. At present, the general rule is that only those aged 45 years or over are considered for a permit. While there are, of course, subtle differences, the South African jurist John Dugard has pointed out that the common features between South African apartheid and Israel’s version are discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation.

Under these repressive and degrading conditions it was only a matter of time before a third intifada erupted in the occupied territories. Israel’s determination to seize Palestinian land for its settlements; its closure and desecration of religious sites; and its extrajudicial killings have all provided the combustible mix that has fuelled the intifada for the past year. The sheer number of settlers (more than half-a-million) and military checkpoints scattered across the West Bank (more than 500) also make the conditions ripe for anger and disaffection to fester.

Throughout their long struggle against Zionist colonisation, Palestinians have staged several uprisings. Once in motion these have never been easy to suppress. Being the weaker of the two parties militarily and politically, the Palestinians have on every occasion suffered untold human and material losses. Yet, for every successive generation, it has been considered to be a price worth paying for their freedom from Israel’s brutal military occupation.

The nature and course of the uprisings have always been unpredictable. This is especially the case today since there is no single political faction that has emerged clearly to lead or coordinate events on the ground. In the absence of any serious political initiative, and given Israel’s determination to maintain its occupation and dominance over the Palestinians, it is only reasonable to expect the current intifada to continue well into the future. In this regard, Edward Said was right: there will be no end to Palestinian efforts to end the prevailing system of inequity and injustice of a kind which only happens in occupied Palestine.

israel ramps up house demolitions as an instrument of expropriation

Israel ramps up house demolitions as an instrument of expropriation

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions–UK (ICAHD–UK) , Newsletter
16 September 2016

Demolitions and displacement
An increasing number of demolitions this summer


This image is from a handy interactive map produced by B’tselem.

During July – August this year, at least 2,800 Palestinians had their livelihoods affected by displacement and demolitions, with 42 communities affected over the two months. The figures for demolitions over the first 8 months of the year have increased by 50% in comparison to all of 2015. In sharp contrast, it will have taken 7 years from an Israeli state ruling agreed in 2011 (on 17 illegal Israeli outposts built on Palestinian land since 2001) to be finally fully evacuated next year. Unfortunately this is but a small success when considered alongside the 463 illegal settlement units confirmed for advancement at the beginning of this month (out of a total 2,623 new units planned this year alone, according to Peace Now). This article also outlines the stark inequality in how Israel differentiates between the need for demolitions to be used as a deterrent for Jews and Palestinians.

This systematic destruction of Palestinian livelihoods is explicitly linked to the advancement of new settlements, many of which are illegal under Israeli as well as International law. As Amos Gvirtz, long-standing critical Israeli peace activist and former ICAHD Chair writes in a recent article, since the 1970’s the Palestinian “population has doubled itself… but permits to construct solutions for this natural increase in population are non-existent. And thus the army forces them to violate its laws when they claim their human right to shelter.“

11 of the 28 structures destroyed in just one fateful week in August, including residential shelters, latrines and a water cistern, had previously been provided as humanitarian assistance. This brings the number of aid items destroyed or confiscated since the beginning of 2016 to 223, more than double the figure for all of 2015. Yet Netanyahu repeatedly tries to negate the existence of the Occupation and settlers, and has attempted to reframe the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and turn it on its head. Read Jonathan Cook’s or Gideon Levy’s important articles concerning this, and remember that the next study tour in November will meet with Jonathan Cook for a briefing and field trip.

Here you can read the story of one man’s self-demolition first hand, making him, his wife and 3 young children homeless. Sometimes homes are also invaded with excessive damage caused before a demolition order is even issued, and this article documents the trend of night raids by soldiers as a method of granting the demolition orders which take a serious toll on the social and psychological well-being of Palestinians. Reactions can result in emotional numbness, feelings of anxiety, and troubled sleep, but could also extend to flashbacks, hyper-alertness, avoidance, and more. There are also others whose homes haven’t been issued a demolition notice, yet are collapsing in on them, as these pictures of cracks following Israeli excavation in Silwan near Jerusalem’s Old City testify.

One example of many of damge to houses in Silwan

This infographic (from OCHA) below referring to the beginning of 2016 in comparison to previous years is a great way to see the increase in scale we are looking at this year:


Additionally, for the first time we have seen Israel demolish a home in occupied Syrian Golan Heights, after denying building permits to locals as is traditional in I/P, and expanding settlement construction in the area. We believe that Israel will continue to act with impunity in such ways until the international community holds it to account, and this is our challenge!

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