Disengagement law repeal advances, EU and UK condemn

15 March 2023

Source: News websites

By Al Mayadeen English 

A new bill repealing the disengagement law passed in 2005 has passed in Knesset’s first reading.

Saleh Abu Diab, a Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah, takes part in a protest against his possible eviction after an Israeli court accepted Jewish settler land claims, in his neighborhood in Al-Quds on June 11, 2021 (Reuters).

Several EU member states, as well as the UK, denounced the Knesset’s approval of a bill that will allow Israeli settlers to return to areas across the West Bank that were previously evacuated as part of the 2005 Israeli-known Disengagement Law, which represented the liberation of Gaza and the partial liberation of the West Bank.

The Palestinian foreign ministry denounced the Knesset’s decision and called on the international community to denounce the bill as well, and to pressure the Israeli government to back down from the decision.

“Proceeding with steps to enact this legislation is a dangerous escalation in the conflict and a belittling of the efforts exerted to reduce tension and achieve calm,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said.

On Monday, a joint statement by the UK, France, and other EU countries, urged “Israel” to refrain from “demolishing Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank and East-al-Quds [Al-Quds] during the month of Ramadan,” as they referenced the forced evacuation of Palestinian families from the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.

The statement noted that the signatories found it “very worrying that Israeli authorities intend to continue” the domicide of Palestinians and declared their “strong opposition to Israel’s settlement expansion policy.” 

Read more: All Israeli settlements are illegal, they must stop: UN Chief

Disengagement law repeal

In February 2023, the Israeli occupation’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill revoking clauses of the 2005 Disengagement Law, which had led to the dismantling of four illegal Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, as well as all the settlements and military presence in the Gaza Strip.

At the time, The Times of “Israel” said that “the bill, which only relates to the parts of the law pertaining to the northern West Bank, is key to the current government’s goal of legalizing the illegal settlement outpost of Homesh.”

On Monday, the bill passed its first reading in the Knesset, and the introductory text of the repeal read: “There is no longer any justification to prevent Israelis from entering and staying in the evacuated territory in northern Samaria [West Bank], and therefore it is proposed to state that these sections [of the disengagement law] will no longer apply to the evacuated territory.”

Read more: Row over illegal West Bank settlement outpost splits Israeli cabinet

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Israelis racing to obtain foreign passports: Israeli media

 February 25, 2023

Source: Israeli Media

By Al Mayadeen English 

According to Israeli media, a large number of settlers seek to resettle somewhere else, showing a possibility of reverse migration out of Palestine.

Protesters carry a large copy of the Israeli “Declaration of Independence,” during a protest against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new occupation government to overhaul the judicial system, near the Knesset, “Israel’s” parliament in al-Quds, February 20, 2023. (AP)

Israeli media reported on Friday that Israelis are rushing to acquire foreign passports to relocate and live elsewhere because “Israel” is no longer a viable option.

“More Israelis are afraid of what is happening, and there is an increase in the percentage of applications for foreign nationality,” one expert told Channel 12, stressing that settlers are asking where is a better land to resettle in and where they can transfer their money, adding: “people in ‘Israel’ are preparing the ground for ’emigration’.”

A few days ago, former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that there is a real threat of civil war breaking out in “Israel.”

Bennett, during an interview with Israeli Channel 12, said that the occupation’s government and the opposition should “take a week off from legislating and protesting and sit down to negotiate the proposed judicial amendments” by Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

“A settlement can be reached regarding the judicial amendments,” Bennett said. “There are things that must be fixed and changed, but we should not go from one extreme to another.”

Around 100,000 Israelis gathered outside the Knesset in occupied Al-Quds on February 20 to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform plans, organizers said earlier in the night.

Israeli settlers have for months been taking to the streets in the thousands to protest the government’s judiciary reforms.

“We can already declare a huge success. [The number of protesters is] approaching 100,000 in the Knesset [parliament] area. This is a huge force of civil resistance to a coup. At the moment of truth, the people of ‘Israel’ stood up to stop the danger to Israeli democracy,” the organizers said on Twitter.

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‘Israel’ claims UN ‘biased’ over statement on settlement expansion

21 Feb, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Israeli occupation claims that the United Nations is biased after the organization issued a statement condemning the illegal Israeli settlement expansion.

A drone photo shows a construction site of a new neighborhood in the illegal “Neve Daniel” settlement in the “Gush Etzion” settlement block at the occupied West Bank, occupied Palestine, February 15, 2023 (EPA Photo)

The United Nations is biased and is ignoring “Palestinian terrorism”, claimed Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen claimed on Tuesday after the UN Security Council issued a statement merely condemning illegal Israeli settlement expansion and expressing concern over the occupation’s plans to further expand its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli occupation government announced last week its decision to legalize nine illegal settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and initiate a project to build some 10,000 houses for illegal Israeli settlers on UN-recognized occupied Palestinian territories.

The Foreign Ministers of France, Italy, and Germany, and the Secretaries of State of the United States and the United Kingdom opposed “Tel Aviv’s” plans to expand its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“The one sided statement of the Security Council, that ignores the Palestinian terrorism, the incitement and the financing of the terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority, is a stain on the UN which continues to be biased and one-sided, and indirectly gives a green light to the Palestinian terror organizations,” Cohen said on Twitter.

The United Nations Security Council expressed on Monday its “dismay” with the Israeli occupation government’s plans to legalize settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. The UNSC issued a statement warning that these measures “impede peace“.

“The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution,” the Council said in a statement supported by all 15 members but which does not have the binding force of a resolution that was being mulled last week.

The Israeli occupation was quick to criticize the declaration, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed it denied the “historic rights” of the Jewish people.

“The UN Security Council has issued a one-sided statement which denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland,” Netanyahu’s office claimed in an official statement.

Furthermore, the occupation’s premier’s office said the statement “fails to mention the Palestinian terror attacks” that took place over the past few weeks in reference to the resistance operations that were conducted against illegal Israeli settlers in various places all over occupied Palestine. 

The draft resolution that was being mulled, reportedly proposed by the United Arab Emirates, had called on the Israeli occupation to “immediately and completely cease” settlement activities in occupied Palestinian areas.

The draft, condemning “all attempts at annexation, including decisions and measures by Israel regarding settlements, including settlement outposts” had been dropped, AFP diplomatic sources said Monday, saying it would be replaced by the new statement issued by the president of the UNSC.

Furthermore, the draft resolution reiterated the demand that the occupation “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The United States opposed the resolution and shot it down with its UNSC veto, with the White House saying it was “deeply dismayed” by the plans.

UN diplomats said that in order to avoid having to use its veto to block the resolution, Washington has encouraged Palestine and its allies in the UNSC to consider drafting “a more symbolic” joint statement condemning the Israeli cabinet’s announcements.

The Biden administration is trying to avoid a diplomatic crisis with the UNSC over Israeli plans for settlement expansion, in light of a recent draft resolution that would demand “Israel” to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

According to multiple diplomats familiar with the situation, the US was successful in delaying the resolution proposed by the Palestinians and their supporters.

The Security Council would likely accept a weaker presidential statement similar to the resolution on Monday, according to the diplomats, rather than a resolution. That said, Presidential statements have become part of the council’s record but are not legally binding because they require the support of all 15 council nations.

US pressures UNSC to abandon vote against Israeli settlement expansion

Feb 21, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The United Nations Security Council, after reversing on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion, issues a mere statement denouncing the issue.

A view of the occupied West Bank illegal settlement of Eli, occupied Palestine, February 14, 2023 (AP Photo)

    The United Nations Security Council expressed on Monday its “dismay” with the Israeli occupation’s government’s plans to legalize settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. The UNSC issued a statement warning that these measures “impede peace”.

    “The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution,” the Council said in a statement supported by all 15 members but which does not have the binding force of a resolution that was being mulled last week.

    The Israeli occupation was quick to criticize the declaration, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed it denied the “historic rights” of the Jewish people.

    “The UN Security Council has issued a one-sided statement which denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland,” Netanyahu’s office claimed in an official statement.

    Furthermore, the occupation’s premier’s office said the statement “fails to mention the Palestinian terror attacks” that took place over the past few weeks in reference to the resistance operations that were conducted against illegal Israeli settlers in various places all over occupied Palestine. 

    The UNSC declaration should “never have been made, and the United States should never have joined it.”

    The draft resolution that was being mulled, reportedly proposed by the United Arab Emirates, had called on the Israeli occupation to “immediately and completely cease” settlement activities in occupied Palestinian areas.

    The draft, condemning “all attempts at annexation, including decisions and measures by Israel regarding settlements, including settlement outposts” had been dropped, AFP diplomatic sources said Monday, saying it would be replaced by the new statement issued by the president of the UNSC.

    Furthermore, the draft resolution reiterated the demand that the occupation “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

    The United States opposed the resolution and shot it down with its UNSC veto, with the White House saying it was “deeply dismayed” by the plans.

    UN diplomats said that in order to avoid having to use its veto to block the resolution, Washington has encouraged Palestine and its allies in the UNSC to consider drafting “a more symbolic” joint statement condemning the Israeli cabinet’s announcements.

    At the same time, Washington denounced a recent Israeli security cabinet announcement regarding the legalization of nine illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    The UNSC “strongly opposes all unilateral measures that impede peace, including, inter alia, Israeli construction and expansion of settlements, confiscation of Palestinians’ land, and the ‘legalization’ of settlement outposts, demolition of Palestinians’ homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians,” the statement read.

    Palestine’s envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, stressed the fact that it was a unanimous stance by the Security Council.

    “We have a united front,” he said. “To isolate one side is a step in the right direction. We are fast approaching a breaking point that no one should care to explore.”

    He concluded that the message needed to be “translated into a time-bound action plan at concerted effort by the UN and its member states to set us on a different path. One that leads to freedom, justice, and peace.”

    The Biden administration is trying to avoid a diplomatic crisis with the UNSC over Israeli plans for settlement expansion, in light of a recent draft resolution that would demand “Israel” to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory.

    According to multiple diplomats familiar with the situation, the US was successful in delaying the resolution proposed by the Palestinians and their supporters.

    The Security Council would likely accept a weaker presidential statement similar to the resolution on Monday, according to the diplomats, rather than a resolution. That said, Presidential statements have become part of the council’s record but are not legally binding because they require the support of all 15 council nations.

    The UN diplomats said Palestine has rejected the US proposal and is pushing for the draft resolution to be brought to a vote on Monday, noting that talks on the resolution are ongoing, but the text and the timing for the vote could change, as per The Times of Israel.

    What would a veto on settlements mean?

    During the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, President Joe Biden would face political difficulties if the resolution on settlements is vetoed. 

    According to diplomats, the efforts against the draft resolution included Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Sullivan’s deputy Brett McGurk, Middle East top diplomat Barbara Leaf, and special envoy for Palestinian affairs Hady Amr.

    Moreover, the Palestinian push for a resolution comes as the new Israeli extremists’ government reaffirmed its commitment to building new settlements in the West Bank, which is further exacerbating the situation in Palestine, as the extremist occupation seems to be bent on changing the status quo in the occupied territories, pushing Palestinians to further defend themselves against Israeli aggression.

    It is noteworthy that in December 2016, the UNSC passed a resolution against the Israeli occupation’s settlements expansion, 14 out of the council’s 15 members voted in favor, while the US, under then-President Barack Obama, abstained.

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    Democracy cannot be saved when it never existed in ‘Israel’: NYT

    Feb 20, 2023

    Source: New York Times + Al Mayadeen English

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    The New York Times publishes a piece explaining that democracy cannot exist in an ethnocracy, thus making “Israel” a non-democracy from inception until today regardless of intra-Israeli differences.

    IOF soldier restraining a scared Palestinian boy in Ramallah, Palestine August 28, 2015 (Reuters).

    The New York Times published a piece by Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism and political science, titled “You Can’t Save Democracy in a Jewish State” in which the writer explained why “Israel” is not a democracy despite continuous claims by its officials on the importance of “saving democracy”.

    Beinart discussed the topic following an era of unprecedented chaos in “Israel”, where Israeli demonstrators claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government has imperiled efforts to “preserve ‘Israel’ as a Jewish and democratic state.

    Former Prime Ministers Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett and former minister Benny Gantz have also voiced their concerns on “saving democracy” in recent days. However, Beinart marked a significant difference in what is happening in “Israel”, which has been likened to anti-populist demonstrations elsewhere in the world. 

    “The people most threatened by Mr. Netanyahu’s authoritarianism aren’t part of the movement against it,” said Beinart and explained that very few Palestinians have joined the ongoing demonstrations.

    According to the professor, the anti-Netanyahu movement is “a movement to preserve the political system that existed before Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition took power, which was not, for Palestinians, a genuine liberal democracy in the first place.” More clearly, the NYT report argued, “It’s a movement to save liberal democracy for Jews.”

    Beinart further made the argument to depict “how illiberal the liberal Zionism” can be. He used one example from the Lapid era, where he argued that then-PM Lapid “implored the Knesset to renew a law that denies Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who are married to Palestinian citizens the right to live with their spouses” inside the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

    In a more blunt approach, the professor explained, “For most of the Palestinians under Israeli control — those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip—’Israel’ is not a democracy,” adding, “It’s not a democracy because Palestinians in the Occupied Territories can’t vote for the government that dominates their lives.”

    Beinart also made reference to Gaza being an open-air prison and the Palestinian Authority being “a subcontractor, not a state.”

    Read more: Palestine warns of dangers of approving Israeli Apartheid bill

    Significantly, the Jewish professor re-examined a 2018 incident wherein a number of Palestinian legislators presented legislation “to anchor in constitutional law the principle of equal citizenship.” At the time, Beinart said the speaker of the Knesset refused to even discuss the topic because it would “gnaw at the foundations of the state.”

    The country “belongs to Jews like me, who don’t live there” the professor said, adding “but not to the Palestinians who live under its control, even the lucky few who hold Israeli citizenship.” This is a reality from long before the Netanyahu coalition came to power, the NYT piece highlighted before concluding that “this is the vibrant liberal democracy that liberal Zionists want to save.”

    Democracy in time of domicide

    To further double down on the contradictive rhetoric of democracy in a Jewish-led occupation state, it is worth putting into context the incidents.

    The protests in “Tel Aviv” and Al-Quds have occurred without any connection to the Israeli occupation’s security cabinet approval the “legalization” of nine illegal Israeli settlement outposts and the advance of nearly 10,000 “settlement units” in the occupied West Bank, which were established by settlers without the approval of Israeli governments.

    The United Nations Security Council, shortly after, on February 16, considered a draft resolution that would demand “Israel” to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory,” Reuters reported.

    According to Reuters, the text “reaffirms that the establishment by ‘Israel’ of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

    Read more: “Israel’s” weapon of choice: Anti-Semitism

    The draft resolution also condemns moves toward the further seizure of land by the Israeli occupation, including the “legalization” of settlement outposts.

    However, On February 20, it was reported that according to multiple diplomats familiar with the situation, the US was successful in delaying the resolution proposed by the Palestinians and their supporters.

    The UN diplomats said that in order to avoid having to use its veto to block the resolution, Washington has encouraged Palestine and its allies in the UNSC to consider drafting “a more symbolic” joint statement condemning the Israeli cabinet’s announcements.

    Democracy in time of genocide

    The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided, on January 26, the Jenin camp in Occupied Palestine’s West Bank using force the camp had not seen in years. The raid left residents and popular resistance groups with no choice but to defend themselves and confront the occupation forces. This raid was happening in parallel to intra-Israeli divisions.

    The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the martyrdom of 10 Palestinians during the genocidal raid on Jenin. It is also worth noting that as part of the raid that was launched against Palestinians, the IOF prevented ambulance crews from entering the region.

    Democracy in time of apartheid

    Amnesty International released a report last year in February that asserted once and for all that the Israeli regime is forcing a system of apartheid on Palestinians.

    Amnesty said the Israeli system is founded on “segregation, dispossession and exclusion”, which amount to crimes against humanity, and its findings were documented in a report that shows the Israeli seizure of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcibly displacing people, and denying them citizenship.

    Read more: Al-Naqab and Diyar Bir Al-Sab’…The social composition and the people

    This is the second report by an international rights group to accuse “Israel” of enforcing an apartheid system, the first being Human Rights Watch whose report was released in April 2021. As per Israeli custom, it accused Amnesty of anti-semitism.

    The organization further said that “Israel” was enforcing a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians in all areas under its control “in Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], and against Palestinian refugees, in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.”

    The measures employed by the Israeli regime against Palestinians include: restrictions on Palestinian movement in occupied territories, underinvestment in Palestinian communities in pre-1967 occupied territories, preventing the return of Palestinian refugees. 

    Even more so, “Israel” forcibly displaces Palestinians, and tortures and kills them extrajudicially in order to maintain a system of “oppression and domination”, which constitutes “the crime against humanity of apartheid”.

    “Laws, policies and practices which are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.”

    “Israel is not a democracy”

    In an interview with Foreign Policy, the former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Alon Liel, made brazen statements that sharply cut through arguments that the Israeli establishment continues to push; Liel openly stated “Israel” is not a democracy. 

    “‘Israel’ always says it’s a democracy. The government always says we are the only democracy in the Middle East and we are part of the West. But in real terms, we are not a democracy with the occupation, and we are only part of the West when it suits us,” Liel argued. 

    Democracy devoid of rights

    The Palestinian Prisoners Information Office confirmed on February 16 “that the occupation prison administration is tightening the screws even more on ‘Megiddo’, ‘Gilboa’, ‘Nafha’, ‘Ramon’, and the ‘Negev’ prisoners, by imposing new punitive measures that affect their daily lives.”

    Israeli media talked about the decision of extremist Israeli Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir who ordered showering time to be reduced to four minutes per prisoner.

    On February 4, Palestinian prisoners sent a message from inside the Israeli occupation prisons asking their citizens to prepare to wage a major battle against the oppression of Ben-Gvir. The prisoners later announced the beginning of the “days of rage”, which will culminate in a hunger strike that will begin in the month of Ramadan, to continue until they are liberated from their captivity.

    Read more: No such thing as leftist, centrist, or rightist in Israeli government

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    UN Secretary-General Reiterates All Jewish Settlements are Illegal under International Law

    February 15, 2023

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo: via Facebook)

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated on Monday that “all of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law and a substantial obstacle to peace.”

    Guterres made his comment as he expressed his deep concern about the Israeli government’s announcement that it is “legalizing” nine settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank.

    Such outposts are illegal under international and even Israeli law.

    “If these measures are implemented, they would further undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution,” Guterres’s spokesman told journalists.

    The UN head called for an end to unilateral measures that undermine prospects for a political solution on the basis of UN resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements.



    FEBRUARY 8TH, 2023


    Before being re-elected in 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley, which makes up approximately 30% of the occupied West Bank, if he remained in power. After months of speculation, Netanyahu nixed his promise in the summer of 2020 as part of Israel’s normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

    Yet with Netanyahu back in office again and leading a right-wing extremist coalition, annexation of the Jordan Valley is back on the agenda.

    In January, Israeli member of parliament, Danny Danon, announced his plans to put forward a bill to annex the region. According to Jewish News, the bill he is preparing seeks to apply “Israeli law to all areas of the Jordan Valley,” including the “industrial areas that serve them, the archaeological sites in the area and the access roads to these areas.”

    Additionally, settler-colonists with the Sovereignty Youth Movement have collected more than 1,000 signatures for a petition demanding the government annex the Jordan Valley. While the Sovereignty Youth Movement and Danon did not respond to MintPress News’ requests for comment, Danon told Jewish News:

    The annexation of the Jordan Valley is a significant issue for Israel from an historical, economical as well as crucially, from a security perspective. We know that there is support for the application of Israel’s sovereignty of the Jordan Valley, both in the government’s coalition as well as in the opposition.”

    Rabbi Arik Ascherman, an activist and director of Israeli non-profit Torat Tzedek, explained that Israeli proposals to annex the Jordan Valley were not exclusively dominated by the right. Rather, Israelis across the political spectrum largely agree on annexing the Jordan Valley for security purposes.

    Settlement construction in the Jordan Valley was initially the brainchild of Israel’s Labor Party brought forth by Labor Minister Yigal Allon as part of the Allon Plan, a draft partition agreement following Israel’s capture of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Establishing settlements in the Jordan Valley was seen as a strategic move to defend against then-existing threats from the east. Today, while those threats have disappeared, the argument of security still persists.


    Being in the Jordan Valley is like hiking through a landscape painting. Jagged cliffs soften into plateaus. Mountains transform into sandy waterfalls and eventually descend into lush ravines. The area is coveted for its natural beauty and agricultural capability. The mineral-rich soil, unique climate, and plentiful water resources has made it a hotspot for farming year-round and therefore an economic necessity.

    “It’s a very rich area, not just for agribusiness, but even for tourism and enjoying nature,” Rashed Khudairy, Coordinator of the Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign and resident, told MintPress News.

    But in between the flocks of grazing sheep, jumping gazelles, and banana plantations, there are remnants of past lives. On a muddy hilltop, a family home lays in ruins. A lone shoe left on stone floors whose walls have been dismantled serves as just a wisp of a memory. Facing constant violence, families in the Jordan Valley often leave their land of their own accord.

    “The settlers just came and they tore down the shepherd’s structures and threatened him with knives,” Ascherman said, referring to a Palestinian shepherd who fled his land after harassment from nearby settlers. In other cases, shepherds plowed their fields but never returned to harvest out of fear of settler attacks.

    Construction of outposts – extensions of Israeli settlements built without the government’s approval – began in 2013 in the Jordan Valley, but sharply increased from 2016. While settlements are legal under Israeli law, outposts are not. Both are illegal under international law.

    Jordan Valley
    Palestinian farmers harvest onions, whose export was later banned by Israel, in Jordan Valley in the West Bank, Feb. 10, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP
    Jordan Valley
    The illegal Jewish-only settlement of Ma’ale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley, June 30, 2020. Oded Balilty | AP

    There are 20 outposts in the Jordan Valley, according to 2020 data from settlement watchdog, Peace Now. Unlike the first Labor Party settlements, Ascherman explained, these colonies are often made up of violent radicals.

    “What’s changed in the last seven years or so has been the influx of all the outposts, which are much more ideological, much more aggressive, much more likely to be violent, much more committed to driving out the Palestinians than some of the veteran settlements were,” Ascherman said. And as the settlements expand, the violence increases. Last February, a new outpost, known as Moshe’s Farm, was established.

    A female shepherd, who spoke to MintPress News under condition of anonymity, lives near Moshe’s Farm and explained that the settlement development has significantly impacted the community’s ability to graze their livestock. “They’re suffocating us, because we used to go far in that direction,” she said, pointing toward the mountains. “And now it’s limited because of the new outpost.”

    Many of the Bedouin shepherds MintPress News spoke to wished to remain anonymous, given that speaking out may cause the Israeli government to take punitive action against them. “Whenever settlers see us with the sheep, they chase us or they chase the sheep with their tractors, in order to push us further back,” She said. “So this is why many people here have been selling their sheep.”

    Lost wages and looming poverty has become the norm in the Jordan Valley, with more and more shepherds selling their livestock.

    Ascherman explained that a lack of grazing area has pushed shepherds to rely on store-bought feed instead, thereby reducing their income.  “[Shepherding] can become no longer economically viable,” Ascherman said. “And we know shepherds who have just sold their flock and moved into the cities, which is just what Israel would like to see happen.”


    Proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley would turn the West Bank into Swiss cheese and  erode any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state there. What a takeover of the valley would look like remains unclear, but the understanding is that rural land would be annexed while major cities like Jericho would fall under control of the Palestinian Authority.

    “The very real Israeli policy is not only to try to eventually annex the Jordan Valley, but to clear Palestinians out as much as possible from Area C, which comprises 60% of the occupied West Bank and has fewer Palestinians to begin with, and concentrate them in the urban areas,” Ashcerman said.

    Some shepherds in the Jordan Valley fear official Israeli annexation may lead to mass demolitions. Nearly every structure in the Jordan Valley has been served a demolition or stop-work order. Yet these demolitions have not been executed thanks to lawyers’ efforts in receiving temporary injunctions to halt demolitions.

    Along with demolition concerns, shepherds have also noticed an uptick in settler violence since December, when Netanyahu formed a coalition government consisting of outspokenly racist politicians. “Settlers have come with their sheep even closer to where we live,” a shepherd who wished to remain anonymous said. “My friend’s car broke down and settlers came and attacked him.”

    Throughout the Jordan Valley, settlers and the army work in tandem together to create an unlivable environment for Palestinians. The army has designated large swathes of land as military training zones, served demolition orders, and ignored Palestinian complaints regarding settler violence, while settlers harass, tear down structures, and prevent Palestinians from grazing or harvesting.

    Khudairy explained that the army often works at the direction of the settlers. And this military-settler collaboration is really where annexation is manifesting. “Since Netanyahu mentioned they were going to annex the Jordan Valley, settler municipalities and councils started doing the work on the ground,” Khudairy said. “They come with Israeli soldiers to confiscate cars and tractors.”

    The majority of Palestinians and solidarity activists in the Jordan Valley are unaware of what the future may hold. But whether annexation is imminent or not, for most, the Jordan Valley is already de facto annexed.

    Feature photo | Israeli soldiers guard equipment against the Palestinians as their home is demolished in the northern Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. Nasser Ishtayeh | Sipa via AP Images

    Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

    Israel endorses construction of nearly 1,200 new settler units in occupied al-Quds

    Thursday, 02 February 2023 6:46 PM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 02 February 2023 6:59 PM ]

    A general view shows the illegal settler enclave of Nof Zion located in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in East al-Quds. (File photo by Reuters)

    In flagrant defiance of the international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s illegal settlement expansion activities and land grab policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israeli authorities have approved plans for the construction of more than a thousand new settler units in al-Quds.

    The Palestinian Information Center reported on Thursday that Israeli officials have given the green light for plans to build nearly 1,200 units as well as other structures for commercial and public purposes on confiscated Palestinian lands in the neighborhoods of al-Thuri, Jabel al-Mukaber and Sur Baher, as well as in the illegal settlements of Kiryat HaYovel, Arnona and Katamonim.

    Emboldened by former US president Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

    Much of the international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.

    More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

    All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

    Israeli far-right government seeks increasing illegal settlement units soon.

    Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

    The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.

    Many Palestinians believe the Israeli plans to annex one-third of the already occupied West Bank, including parts of the strategic Jordan Valley, is only a formality and that a de facto Israeli occupation of their land has been underway for many years.

    Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:




    A series of Israeli raids targeted resistance sites in Gaza
    Punitive occupation measures against the Palestinians
    Palestine: The Time of Great Rifts


    ‘Israel’ Plans to Build 18,000 More Settler Units in Occupied West Bank

    January 26, 2023 

    By Staff, Agencies

    Zionist media sources reported that the current far-right administration in Tel Aviv is planning to take unprecedented steps to pave the way for further expansion of unlawful settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

    According to ‘Israel’ Hayom newspaper, Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has begun discussing measures to speed up and increase the construction of settlements in the West Bank, in defiance of international law.

    Netanyahu, War Minister Yoav Galant, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich met earlier this week to finalize the process.

    During the meeting, some of the components of the plans were revealed, said the ‘Israeli’ newspaper.

    These steps include approving the establishment of some 18,000 new illegal settler units in the coming months and creating a separate body that would approve the construction of non-residential buildings, such as industrial companies, among other things.

    The approval of such steps could result in a massive increase in the population of Zionist settler communities in the occupied West Bank over the coming years, the paper added.

    In December, Netanyahu issued a policy statement on the part of his incoming cabinet, calling expansion of the regime’s illegal settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories and elsewhere a top priority.

    The cabinet, he announced, “will advance and develop” the illegal settlements throughout the occupied territories, including “in the Galilee, the Negev Desert, the Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

    The Zionist occupation regime proclaimed existence in 1948 after occupying huge swathes of regional territories during a Western-backed war.

    It occupied more land, namely the West Bank, which includes East al-Quds, the Gaza Strip, and Syria’s Golan Heights in another such war in 1967.

    Ever since, Tel Aviv has built more than 250 settlements upon the occupied lands and deployed the most aggressive restraints on Palestinian freedoms there. Between 600,000 and 750,000 Zionist settlers occupy the settlements.

    All ‘Israeli’ settlements are illegal under the international law due to their construction upon occupied territory. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the regime’s settlement activities through several resolutions.

    “Israel’s” West Bank Occupation to Expand More than Ever

     December 20, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    On 1 December, as soon as coalition agreements were signed between “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the far-right Religious Zionism and Jewish Power factions, the so-called “Yesha Council” settler group posted a happy note on Facebook.

    “Special thanks to our representatives who collaborated with the professionals of Yesha Council throughout the negotiations,” it exclaimed after congratulating all involved.

    It further added: “With God’s help, a new government will soon be formed and face the challenges of construction development and preservation of land in ‘Judea and Samaria’,” it added, using the Zionist names for the occupied West Bank.

    The head of “Karnei Shomron”, another influential settler group, struck a similar note, telling Ynet TV that the first thing Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich should do in power is apply “Israeli” law to the occupied West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

    “For over 55 years no decisions were made. It’s time to annex Judea and Samaria [West Bank] the same way the Golan Heights was annexed,” he added.

    Those comments tell a big story. Not only do they reveal the scope of the involvement that settler groups have had in government-formation negotiations, but they also allow a glimpse into the future pressure they will place to implement their schemes.

    The most alarming sign is the transfer of two army units charged with administering the occupation to the full responsibility of Smotrich’s party through a ministerial position within the military occupation ministry. Granting the responsibility for these units to Smotrich not only allows him to expand settlements and enforce powers against Palestinians but also further restricts the movement of Gaza residents in and out of the enclave.

    ‘Israeli’ Shin Bet Worried About Palestinian Authority’s Fate as Resistance Groups Emerge

    November 19, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    ‘Israeli’ Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar warned about the danger of an imminent collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the consequent rise of the Palestinian resistance operations in the occupied West Bank during a meeting with Zionist prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu last week, Walla! News reported.

    The Zionist spy agency, among several others, are worried that the ‘security’ of settlers in the West Bank would deteriorate in the backdrop of the establishment of Netanyahu’s emerging government.

    The bodies point to the growth of Palestinian resistance groups such as the “Lions’ Den,” which are composed of young people who are not organized with any old resistance groups, who do not remember the second intifada and its consequences, and who have easy access to weapons and targets in the West Bank.

    The Tel Aviv regime fears that this phenomenon, together with the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority and its loss of control over large parts of the West Bank, creates a concern for a significant security deterioration in the West Bank, the likes of which has not been seen in about two decades.

    Video| Palestinian Fighters Heroically Confront Israeli Raid in Nablus

    November 19, 2022

    Fighters of Nablus Battalion in the Palestinian city of Nbalus (photo from September 2022).

    Palestinian resistance fighters heroically confronted an Israeli raid in Nablus Old City early on Saturday.

    Palestinian media reported that Israeli occupation forces raided the Old City of Nablus at dawn on Saturday, sparking fierce clashes with Palestinian resistance fighters.

    Several gunshots and explosions were heard in the Old City, Palestinian media reported, quoting residents and local

    According to the sources, occupation forces arrested two Palestinians and then released them “after getting sure they were not the wanted suspects.”

    A Palestinian was injured by Israeli fire during the clashes which lasted for more than an hour, the sources added, noting that occupation military sent reinforcement to the area of the raid.

    Al-Quds Bridages’ Nablus Battalion announced its fighters repelled the Israeli raid “with gunshots and explosive devices which directly targeted the occupation forces.”

    Source: Palestinian media (Translated and edited by Al-Manar English Website)

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    UN Commission: Apartheid Charges Against “Israel” Will Be Investigate

    October 28, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies

    The open-ended United Nations Commission of Inquiry into rights abuses by “Israel” said Thursday it will investigate apartheid charges against the “Israeli” entity, confirming fears in Tel Aviv that the controversial probe would seek to brand it with the toxic term.

    The ongoing UN investigation was set up by the Human Rights Council following last year’s 11-day “Israeli” aggression on besieged Gaza Strip to probe rights abuses.

    The commission released its second report last week, calling on the UN Security Council to end the “Israeli” entity’s “permanent occupation” and urging UN member states to prosecute “Israeli” officials.

    On Thursday, the three members of the commission said future reports will investigate apartheid by the “Israeli” entity, during a briefing at the United Nations in New York. They said the investigation had so far focused on the “root causes” of the conflict, which they ascribe to the entity’s presence in the occupied West Bank.

    Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief who chairs the commission, called apartheid “a manifestation of the occupation.”

    “We’re focusing on the root cause which is the occupation and part of it lies in apartheid,” Pillay said. “We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate, it gives us the scope.”

    Commission member Miloon Kothari also said the open-ended nature of the probe allowed it to examine the apartheid charge.

    “We will get to it because we have many years and issues to look at,” he said.

    “We think a comprehensive approach is necessary so we have to look at issues of settler colonialism,” Kothari added. “Apartheid itself is a very useful paradigm, so we have a slightly different approach but we will definitely get to it.”

    The “Israeli” regime has refused to cooperate with the commission and has not granted it entry into the entity or access to the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza. It rejected last week’s report, calling the panel neither credible nor legitimate. On Thursday, the “Israeli” entity’s ambassador to the UN said the panel’s members were chosen because they “abhor” “Israel”.

    Reports earlier this year said the entity’s so-called Foreign Ministry was planning a campaign to head off accusations of apartheid by the commission. A leaked cable reportedly revealed “Israeli” officials were concerned about the damage the commission’s first report could do if it referred to the “Israeli” entity as an “apartheid ‘state’.”

    The “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, while serving as foreign minister earlier this year, warned that the entity would face intense campaigns to label it an apartheid state this year.

    The UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have accused “Israel” of apartheid in the past two years, borrowing the term from South Africa’s system of codified race-based discrimination.

    The commission presented its latest report to the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

    The 28-page report accuses the “Israeli” entity of violating international law by making its control over the occupied West Bank permanent, and by annexing Palestinian land in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the occupied West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights. It also accuses the entity of discriminatory policies against 1948 Palestinians, of stealing natural resources, and of gender-based violence against Palestinian women.

    Lapid has called the report antisemitic, “biased, false, inciting and blatantly unbalanced.”

    The US has also repeatedly condemned the commission. US President Joe Biden denounced the investigation as biased during a meeting with “Israeli” President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday.

    The investigation “continues a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out ‘Israel’ and does nothing to establish conditions for ‘peace’,” the White House said.

    Pillay dismissed allegations of antisemitism on Thursday, calling the claims “offensive” and “a diversion.”

    “All three of us are not antisemitic. Let me make that clear, and then to add insult to injury, they said the report is also antisemitic. There isn’t a word in this report that can be interpreted as antisemitic,” she said. “This is always raised as a diversion.”

    “We’re so committed to justice, the rule of law and human rights and we should not be subjected to abuse such as this. They’re totally false, all false and lies,” she said.

    She said the “Israeli” regime may be guilty of international crimes, including war crimes, by transferring civilians into “occupied territory,” referring to West Bank settlements, where nearly 500,000 “Israeli” settlers live.

    Kothari denounced settlers as a “paramilitary force.”

    “They can do whatever the hell they want, they can raid homes, they can destroy olives,” he said.

    Pillay dismissed security concerns the “Israeli” entity cites for maintaining a presence in the occupied West Bank as “a fiction” the country was trying to “hide behind.”

    “Some of ‘Israel’s’ policies in the West Bank are only cosmetically intended to justify security concerns,” she said.

    The commission has called for the entity to immediately withdraw from the occupied West Bank.

    The West Bank in Palestine is Ready to Explode

    Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

    Steven Sahiounie

    There is a battle brewing in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. Thousands of Israeli occupation forces will be deployed to face a growing resistance force. The ‘natives are restless’ and the Lions’ Den has mobilized to fight for their freedom and human rights.

    500,000 illegal Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank in some 130 settlements. Today, the Israeli forces said dozens of settlers ran through Hawara, near Nablus, throwing rocks at Palestinian cars. The settlers used pepper spray on the Israeli commander as well as another soldier and sprayed another two soldiers at a nearby checkpoint. Settlers are allowed to intimidate Palestinians and destroy their property, while Palestinians are hunted down and killed by Israeli occupation forces.

    The Palestinian youth have grown up under brutal military occupation and an apartheid state. The resistance in Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron has inspired rebellion against sieges and attacks. The Palestinian people living under the iron hand of oppression are ready to fight the Israeli occupation and are frustrated with their leadership which is seen as collaborating with the Israelis in keeping the status quo firmly in place. The resistance movement sees no benefit in maintaining the occupation and demands a dramatic change in their future.

    The Palestinian youth reject the divisions among the factions in the politics of Palestine. The recent unity deal in Algeria has given them hope that political parties can work together in brigades such as the Lions’ Den, which has fighters from Hamas, Fatah, and others fighting together for a single goal of freedom.

    On October 11, an Israeli soldier was killed in an attack north of Nablus, and two other shooting attacks against Israeli forces took place in Beit Ummar, near Hebron, and in Sur Baher, a neighborhood in Jerusalem.

    On October 14, Israeli forces killed 20-year-old Mateen Dabaya in a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Dr. Abdallah Abu Teen, 43, rushed to the aid of Dabaya in front of the Jenin hospital and was also shot and killed by the Israelis in his attempt to give medical care to the injured young man. Two Palestinian paramedics and several civilians were also wounded in the attack by the Israelis at the entrance to the hospital.

    On October 15, a Palestinian in his twenties was killed north of Ramallah, and Israeli forces raided Nablus and arrested a Palestinian man while continuing to impose movement restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is a hallmark of an apartheid state.

    On October 16, Mohammad Turkman, 20, died of his wounds while in Israeli custody. He had been wounded and captured by Israeli forces in Jenin in late September.

    On October 20, Mohammed Fadi Nuri, 16, died after being shot in the stomach last month by Israeli troops near the city of Ramallah.

    The Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem is completely sealed in a siege by Israeli forces as a form of collective punishment following an attack there, and Israeli police announced that it arrested 50 Palestinians in Jerusalem recently.

    Riyad Mansour, the representative of Palestine to the UN, has denounced attacks by Israeli occupation forces and called on the UN to comply with international law and Security Council resolutions. Mansour noted that Israeli forces and settler militias “are relentlessly harassing, intimidating and provoking the Palestinian people in a ruthless manner,” and condemned the new attack against the city of Jenin

    The US enables Israel to remain an apartheid state

    The United States of America, the champion of freedom and democracy, is currently sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine to fight for democracy. But, you won’t see the US sending a bullet to the Palestinians for their fight for democracy. The US is also the champion of ‘double standards’.

    According to the various international human rights groups, which are often cited by the US as evidence of war crimes and atrocities by American foes, the Jewish State of Israel is an apartheid state. The US and her western liberal allies were the chief critics of the former apartheid state of South Africa, and the western criticism helped to fulfill the dreams of freedom and democracy in the land of Nelson Mandela.

    The US is like a parent who allows Israel to continue self-destructive behavior. Some parents of teenage drug addicts will buy drugs for their children to protect them from danger and arrest. The parents are not willing to go through the tortuous procedure of rehab for the child, so they minimize the danger and make the drug addiction as safe as possible. This is known as enabling, and this is the role the US has chosen for itself in its relationship with Israel and Palestine. On the one hand, the US claims to support the democratic aspirations of all peoples but is unwilling to stand up to Israeli policies of racism, collective punishment, blockades, imprisonment without trial or legal aid, and other crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people under occupation. The enabling stance of the US is destructive for both the US and the Palestinians, as the reputation of America suffers from global ridicule and shame.

    Palestinian unity deal

    Arab unity might be too much to ask for, but Palestinian unity has been agreed on in Algeria. Hamas, Fattah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PLO, and others signed the deal brokered by Algerian President Abdulmajeed Tabboune. This deal resolves a 15-year political dispute among the various factions and looks forward to new elections.

    “Jenin has demonstrated to the [Palestinian] leaders meeting in Algeria that national unity is built in the field,” Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.

    Why is the west bank resisting?

    The Palestinian Authority has lost control in Nablus and Jenin the West Bank. The Palestinians view their leadership as an extension of Israeli control and oppression. The Lions’ Den in Nablus has claimed responsibility for the latest resistance operations against Israeli occupation forces.

    On October 16, the Jenin Brigade announced they will support the Lions’ Den in their resistance to occupation, and this has raised the prospect of increased Israeli raids on Jenin and Nablus.

    Benny Gantz, Israeli Defense Minister, trivialized the threat of the Lions’ Den when he made statements on how his occupation forces will capture and eliminate the members. Israel has depended on the divisions among the Palestinian factions. However, Israel has never before faced a unified force of motivated youth who are willing to die for freedom and a chance to create a new future for themselves and their families. Revolutions occasionally succeed.

    According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza, since the beginning of 2022, making this year the deadliest since 2015.

    UK embassy move proposed

    Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, have both expressed concern over the proposed UK embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Liz Truss, the embattled British Prime Minister, proposed the idea in her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid last month.

    Pope Francis, the UK churches, and the 13 denominations of Christians in Jerusalem have always maintained a position supporting a UN resolution for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine firstly, and secondly a final status of Jerusalem to be decided afterward. Previously the Christians of Jerusalem stated concern over moving embassies to Jerusalem, “We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

    Truss has wanted to follow in the footsteps of President Trump who defied international law when he shifted the US embassy to Jerusalem. The Truss plan was first suggested in her letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a pro-Israel lobby group, similar to the pro-Trump AIPAC in the US.

    Australia reverses its position on embassy move

    Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has announced Australia has reversed its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    Wong also told reporters that “the Australian government remains committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state can coexist in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”

    Waving a pistol, Israeli official urges settlers to kill Palestinians

    Lately, there has been a surge in settler violence across both holy sites and Palestinian neighborhoods in the West Bank

    October 14 2022

    (Photo credit: Flash90)

    ByNews Desk

    Israeli Knesset member and leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben Gvir, was seen in a video on the evening of 13 October, wielding a pistol in the occupied east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and urging settlers and police to shoot at Palestinians who throw stones at the occupation forces.

    “We’re the landlords here, remember that, I am your landlord … If [Palestinians] throw stones, shoot them,” Ben Gvir said. The night before, during an earlier visit to Sheikh Jarrah, the extremist Knesset member (MK) reportedly threatened to “mow down” a group of Palestinians in the area.

    The east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah became internationally known last year as one of the main sites of Israel’s indiscriminate land confiscation and expulsion policies and is regularly subject to raids by scores of settlers, including on 14 October.

    Later trying to justify his behavior via Twitter, Ben Gvir said: “The politicians are tying the hands of our cops … It cannot be that Arabs throw stones next to cops and the cops don’t respond with fire.”

    Ben Gvir, whose extremist far-right ideology is mainstreamed in Israel, is notorious for this type of extremist rhetoric, as well as his support for violent settler groups who regularly storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque and desecrate its grounds. This is something that the MK himself has taken part in.

    Lately, there has been a surge in settler violence against Palestinians, as well as continued raids into the al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites. Several far-right Jewish settlers stormed Hebron in the occupied West Bank on 10 October and proceeded to tear up and set fire to copies of the Quran near the city’s Qaytoun Mosque.

    On 30 September, Palestinian Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Hatem al-Bakri, said in a statement that Israeli troops and extremist settlers have stormed and attacked 15 mosques since the start of the year.

    This extremism, which is already prevalent on a daily basis, is likely to be amplified significantly in the event that Ben Gvir or others like him make their way into a coalition government with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at its head – something that might materialize.

    Battle of Naalan mountain: one town’s fight against the full might of the Israeli settler project

    SEPTEMBER 16, 2022 

    The small town of Mazraa Qabaliya in the northern West Bank is fighting the Israeli military and armed settlers to protect a resource that is both revered and essential to their community — Naalan mountain.


    By Mariam Barghouti

    On October 26, 2018, the small town of Mazraa Qabaliya just 11 km northwest of Ramallah witnessed a brutal assault by Israeli settlers and their military vanguard. 

    As Palestinian men gathered for Friday prayers under a cluster of brown and green leadtrees, they were met with teargas from the Israeli military in tandem with an organized attack by armed Israeli settlers. Youth responded by hurling stones back at the settlers and soldiers.

    “It was a bloodbath that day,” Jaafar Ladadweh, 55, recalled to Mondoweiss almost four years later on the same Naalan mountaintop where two men were fatally shot.

    Two Palestinians from the village were shot — Othman Ahmad Ladadweh, 33, was hit in the thigh and died that Friday evening, while Mohammad Ibrahim Shreiteh, 28, was shot in the head, succumbing to his wounds almost two weeks later, on November 10, 2018. More than a dozen were injured with live bullets while dozens more were injured with teargas and rubber bullets.

    The view from Naalan mountain overlooking Israeli settlements in the north of the West Bank. (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)
    The view from Naalan mountain overlooking Israeli settlements in the north of the West Bank. (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)THE VIEW FROM NAALAN MOUNTAIN OVERLOOKING ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN THE NORTH OF THE WEST BANK. (PHOTO: MARIAM BARGHOUTI/MONDOWEISS)

    Guardians of the mountain: ‘we must keep the light on’

    The confrontations in Naalan would intensify in 2018. Protests were being held in tandem with the Great March of Return in Gaza, where Palestinians marched every Friday in the thousands to protest the Gaza siege and its population of 2 million people. 

    Like the Israeli military response to Palestinian unarmed protest in Gaza, the youth and residents of Mazraa were met with lethal force — mostly live ammunition. 

    Four years later, the sunset from the top of Naalan mountain is calm and the air is crisp, with a breeze reminiscent of Ramallah’s windy evenings. The contrast of the dying colors of orange, red, yellow, and purple blue with a darker sky and almost yellow full moon commands appreciation. 

    Under September’s full harvest moon, a group of 11 men gather on plastic chairs and wooden benches they have set up over the years, to revive the mountain and maintain it.

    “We all take turns making sure there is electricity extended and that the lights on this mountain are on at all times, to make sure there is a sign of life here” Ahmad Obeid, 62, says with a smile. 

    Eager and passionate about sharing their story of successfully holding on to their homes, Obeid points at one of the flickering lights hanging from a treehouse they had built months ago to encourage visitors to come and help protect the mountain from settler takeover.

    “We must keep the light on,” Obeid said, his tone passionate. “We must keep the light on here on the mountain at all times. Once it’s off, know that something is wrong, that there has been an attack,” he said to Mondoweiss. 

    Image of two martyrs hanging in the community office on Naalan Mountain (Photo: Mariam Barghouti/Mondoweiss)

    Abandoned by parties and actors that are supposedly responsible, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), the mountain was nurtured and developed through the power of community initiatives and youth volunteers. 

    Through collective conversations, the village of Mazraa Qabaliya organized itself into committees to renovate, preserve, and document the archeological artifacts that sprawl across and inside the mountain. 

    “When we pray here, you would find settlers coming to also pray,” Ali Shreiteh, 54, told Mondoweiss. Shreiteh had been documenting the historical significance and archeological richness that is hidden across the mountain top, from Roman wells to centuries-old antiques. 

    Over the past four years, organized settler visits and attacks on the site in coordination with Israeli army have intensified. These visits seek to establish a presence on the land, which in turn would create a justification for the annexation and forcible takeover of Palestinian lands by judicial decree. 

    Yet, these sinister practices do not occur in isolation. They are embedded in, and enforced through, broader Israeli policies denying Palestinians ability to use their resources and lands for growth and building of healthy and unified communities.

    Israeli forces arrest an unarmed Palestinian during confrontations in 2018. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)
    Israeli forces arrest an unarmed Palestinian during confrontations in 2018. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)ISRAELI FORCES ARREST AN UNARMED PALESTINIAN DURING CONFRONTATIONS IN 2018. (PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SHREITEH)

    Greenlighting ethnic cleansing in Area B

    Naalan mountain is located in Mazraa Qabaliya, a town known for its agricultural produce and capacity for sustainable water infrastructure. 

    Mazraa Qabaliya and its Naalan mountain are also categorized as “Area B” under the Oslo Accords, which places them under the civic and administrative control of the PA and military control of Israeli army. This power vacuum, combined with the lack of foreign support, has meant that the town residents have had to take it upon themselves to counter the continuous impunity for armed Israeli aggressions and organized settler crimes.

    Since the growth of settlement expansion to Areas B in 2017, added to the peak in settler violence in 2018, the townspeople have directed their efforts to ensure that Naalan mountain remains vibrant and accessible to Palestinians. This has largely only been possible through constant confrontation whereby Palestinians must face armed settlers and soldiers with either their voice, their bodies, or the hurling of stones — a crime punishable by up to 10 years under Israeli military regulations.

    “They want to take this mountain by any means, even if it is fabricating a historical association with it,” Yousef Ali, 45, told Mondoweiss. 

    Naalan mountain, 2018 (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)
    Naalan mountain, 2018 (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)NAALAN MOUNTAIN, 2018 (PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SHREITEH)

    ccording to the Oslo Accords, settlers expanding to Area B are not only in violation of international law, but also Israeli law. The clandestine manner in which Israel takes over lands has been well-documented, but with little repercussions. In 2018, former US president Barack Obama was reportedly “shocked” at the systemic nature of Israeli settlements and their fragmentation of Palestinians from one another. 

    This settler expansion has been devastating to Palestinian farmers. Already economically deprived of more than 63% of the most fertile and grazing land as well as agricultural resources in Area C, farmers in Mazraa Qabaliya and the rest of Area B are restricted by Israeli veto power over building and constructing water wells and drilling into reservoirs or springs.  

    The wells around the Naalan mountain top could provide the community with the resources that would allow for sustainability and income generation in the face of the economic depression plaguing Palestinian communities.  In fact, the families and communities near Naalan have renovated some old wells, but the energies of the townspeople continue to be occupied mainly with surviving and confronting Israeli efforts to takeover their lands for the purpose of expanding illegal settlements.

    In this way, not only are settlements furthering Israeli theft and abuse of natural resources, but are also impeding Palestinian capacities to develop what resources they have.

    Israeli settlers marching with military protection on Naalan mountain. (Photo: Mohammad Shreiteh)

    In contrast, illegal Israeli settlers are not only provided with Israeli court-ordered military force as protection, but also governmental financial support from the “Settlement Division” of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to help link agricultural and natural resource networks with a growing physical settler infrastructure..

    In June and July of this year, the WZO declared plans to invest additional $ 8.5 million USD in connecting and legitimizing illegal outposts in the West Bank, a policy pushed forward by former Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet. And not only are settlements expanding but they are even creeping towards Area B of the West Bank also in violation of the Oslo Accords.

    What this adds up to is that Palestinian communities lack nearly any form of financial, legal, emotional, or logistical support in their efforts to defend their land while Israeli settlers are provided with international impunity, constant and growing economic funding, as well as protection from its military, one of the most advanced in the world. 

    Call for solidarity

    With what little remains, Palestinian towns and villages are constantly attempting to salvage what they have been able to hold onto in the face of a increasingly emboldened settler population, which maintains a strong hold on military power and international public opinion.

    As Palestinian communities attempt to safeguard their communities from settler attacks, they are calling on supporters to join them in ensuring that Palestinian lands remain alive with Palestinian lives. “Just come be with us, build with us, bring nothing but will and joy,” Ladadweh says as the evening fades into darkness, as an LED lightbulb flickers behind him. 

    In that moment, words from earlier in the evening seemed to hang in the air and resonate with the 11 men firmly planted at the top of Naalan mountain: “the light must stay on.”


    AUGUST 24TH, 2022


    By Miko Peled

    Between the two historic Palestinian port towns of Haifa and Akka – both occupied since 1948 – there exists a lovely bay called the Bay of Haifa. The cities were subjected to a heavy ethnic cleansing campaign, and now they consist of a majority Jewish Israeli population. Several Zionist colonies were established across the Bay of Haifa over the years, and even though this is prime beachfront real estate, housing was constructed largely for new, poor immigrants.

    One of the colonies built on Haifa Bay is the city of Kiryat Yam. It sits right on the Mediterranean coast, but the area is considered less favorable because it is still largely an immigrant community and suffers from a high rate of crime. Every morning, retired Russian immigrants who live in Kiryat Yam go walking, swimming in the sea, or just sit around and look at the beautiful scenery.

    The only language one hears on the beach – or anywhere in the city for that matter – is Russian. The beach is lovely, well-kept, with chairs and plenty of shaded areas. Looking at the people on the beach, one might think this was a resort on the Black Sea. But it isn’t. These are not tourists, they are European colonizers, and this is not the Black Sea; it is the coast of Palestine.


    There are no Arabic names for any of the towns along the bay between Haifa and Akka, two Palestinian-Arab cities that were brought to prominence by Daher Al-Umar, the eighteenth-century Palestinian leader who is also known as the King of Galilee. Kiryat Yam – which is a Hebrew name – sits on what used to be the village of Arab Al-Ghawarina. The village was occupied, depopulated and destroyed in May 1948.

    Today, even though both Akka and Haifa still have large Palestinian residents, in the towns throughout the Bay of Haifa and on the beach they are practically invisible. Certainly, in the world of the Russian immigrants who enjoy the lovely beaches and warm water of the Mediterranean, the Palestinians do not exist.

    This is true in the city of Tel Aviv, much of which used to be Yafa, in all of West Jerusalem (which was predominantly Palestinians prior to 1948), and many of the new neighborhoods built in East Jerusalem after 1967. It is also true in places like Tabariya, Safad, and other cities that were exclusively Palestinian prior to the catastrophic events of 1948.

    The Jewish Colonizers line up on a pier awaiting settlement in nearby Haifa, March 13, 1947. Right: Palestinians wait to flee Haifa on April 28, 1948, following a large attack by Jewish forces on the port. Photos: AP

    The disappearance of Palestinians from the landscape is also evident in large settlement blocks in 1948 Palestine. In newly built towns, cities and neighborhoods throughout the country, shiny new developments pop up everywhere, but the homes are for Jews only. One excellent example is the settlement of Kochav Yair. This pristine little town of ten thousand people was built exclusively for Jews on lands that belong to the Palestinian towns of Taybeh, Tira and Qalansawe, also known as the Triangle. These Palestinian towns, like so many others, have severe shortages of housing. This is partially because the housing units in the city are not available to Palestinians.

    When Palestinians try to apply to purchase an apartment in any of these are turned down, sometimes this is done directly, other times by plainly lying and saying the residential projects are sold out.


    A Palestinian living in an unrecognized neighborhood in the city of El-Lyd tried to apply for an apartment where the developers said units will be made available on a first come, first served basis. “I was the first person to put down his name on the list,” he told me. When he had not heard back, he called and was told that they were sold out.

    Another Palestinian, also from El-Lyd, told me a similar story. In his case, he drove with a Jewish friend. “I went in to sign up for an apartment and I was told they were sold out. Then, my boss who is Jewish went in and was offered several apartments from which he could choose. “Why did you tell my Palestinian employee you are sold out?” he asked. “If word gets out that we start selling to Arabs, we will lose all of our business here,” they answered.

    El-Lyd used to be exclusively Palestinian. Prior to 1948, it was a city that had an international airport and a large central railway station. In fact, before the airport was named after Ben-Gurion, it was called El-Lyd Airport. Then, in 1948, after a series of war crimes and a massacre, the residents of the city were forcibly removed and it was flooded with poor Jewish immigrants. According to local politician Fida Shehade, currently the official number of Palestinians in the city stands at around thirty percent.

    While the Jewish settlers receive incentives to move into the city, the main incentive being affordable, newly built, modern housing, the Palestinian citizens suffer from a severe housing crisis. The Palestinians in El-Lyd are forced to live in conditions that the Jewish residents of the city would not and probably could not even imagine. Forget garbage collection, electricity, roads or water supply. They are also subjected to violent crime and general negligence by the authorities.

    Palestinian children play in what is left of a section of an Arab neighborhood in Lyd circa 2012. Oded Balilty | AP


    The acceptable code for letting things get worse for Palestinians and do nothing about it is, “it’s too complicated,” or “justice and equality are utopian and will never happen.” Both are true in a sense, but allowing this reality to go on uninterrupted is in itself a crime that should not be tolerated.

    The litmus test for Israelis who see themselves as liberals is the legitimacy of Israel itself. They will not budge unless they can be comforted and told that they too have legitimacy. I had a conversation about this with Bassem Tamimi from the village of Nabi Saleh. He told me a joke to illustrate this mentality that is so typical to Israelis. The joke is about a man in Egypt, but it can be told about any person from any place on Earth. A man goes to Alexandria and steals eight Egyptian pounds. He takes a train to Cairo and on the way, he says to every person he sees, “these are my eight pounds, they are mine, I never stole them!”

    Israel is like that man, but it stole more than eight pounds. Israel stole and is now demanding legitimacy of its “ownership” of Palestine and its riches. Some of these riches are at this very moment being enjoyed by Jewish immigrants from Russia who came to Palestine over the last thirty years. They speak only Russian, their shops carry imported goods from Russia, and like my own grandparents who arrived one hundred years ago, they know little and care even less about Palestine and its people. They enjoy affordable beachfront housing, stipends and health care and yes, they enjoy the warm Mediterranean water in the bay between Haifa and Akka.

    Dozens of Palestinians Injured as IOF Attack Anti-Settlement Protesters

    August 27, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    “Israeli” Occupation Force [IOF] troops have attacked anti-settlement protesters in several areas of the occupied West Bank, injuring dozens of Palestinians.

    The troops attacked protesters in several towns and villages near Qalqilia and Nablus. During anti-regime protests in the town of Kafr Qaddum, the Israeli forces fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, injuring dozens of Palestinians, including Palestine TV journalist Anal al-Jadaa.

    Local sources said the Israeli troops also fired tear gas at anti-settlement protesters.

    Residents of Kafr Qaddum and neighboring villages have been staging weekly marches since 2011 to protest against “Israeli” expansionism and illegal “Israeli” settlement activities.

    In a separate attack against anti-settlement protesters in the village of Beit Dajan, in the east of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, several Palestinians were tear-gassed, sources confirmed.

    Ahmad Jibril, director of the ambulance service with the Red Crescent in Nablus, told WAFA news agency on Friday that at least 18 Palestinians suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear gas bombs.

    The town of Beita in southeast of Nablus was also the scene of “Israeli” violence against Palestinian protesters.

    Also, in the city of Deir al-Balah in the besieged Gaza Strip, the IOF opened fire at Palestinian shepherds from military towers, forcing them to leave the area, WAFA reported.

    “Israeli” forces have recently stepped up deadly violence against Palestinians killing dozens of them over the past months.

    The Tel Aviv regime faces growing resistance over its land grab policy and demolition drive as anti-settlement sentiments run high in the occupied territories.

    Between 600,000 and 750,000 “Israelis” occupy over 250 illegal settlements that have been built across the West Bank since the 1967 occupation.

    The settlements are all illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has in several resolutions condemned the Tel Aviv regime’s illegal settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian lands.


    JULY 22ND, 2022


    By Jessica Buxbaum

    OCCUPIED WEST BANK — On Wednesday, thousands of Israeli settlers from the Nachala settler group — along with Israeli lawmakers — flocked to the occupied West Bank and established seven illegal outposts in a land grab operation propelled by a massive fundraising campaign.

    By Thursday evening, Israeli forces evacuated the day-old outposts and detained and later released 11 settlers. Despite the evictions, Nachala remains determined to continue building on land they claim is only reserved for Jews, with plans to set up new outposts as early as next week.

    Nachala, the group responsible for the infamous Evyatar outpost erected last year, has been preparing since April to establish outposts en masse in July. Initially, the plan was to build 28 new outposts throughout the West Bank, but that number was scaled back in recent days. Settlements are legal under Israeli law, but illegal according to international law. Outposts, makeshift encampments built by settlers, are illegal under both Israeli and international law, but some have been retroactively authorized by the Israeli government.

    Despite outposts being illegal, Nachala widely advertised its plan on social media and in news outlets. The Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Israeli army, and Israel Police all issued statements on Tuesday saying security forces will be deployed to thwart any action.

    This particular outpost operation was made possible through Nachala’s fundraising efforts, specifically, a crowdfunding campaign that raised over 5 million shekels (or $1.5 million) so far.

    Several left-wing organizations have denounced Nachala’s efforts, including Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, and activist organizations, Peace Now and Looking the Occupation in the Eye. On Wednesday, activists confronted Nachala settlers at several sites throughout the West Bank.

    Guy Hirschfeld, an activist with Looking the Occupation in the Eye, told MintPress News the group contacted the Israel Police, Israel Tax Authority, and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz before Nachala’s operation was carried out, but still, nothing was done to prevent Nachala’s plans from being executed, saying,

    It’s all by the state and its part of the big plan of ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”


    Nachala is funded in a myriad of ways. The settlement movement receives money through its financial arm, Geula Titnu La’aretz (in English: “the land shall be redeemed”), a registered non-profit in Israel’s Registrar of Associations, through its public benefit company, Hakupah Haleumit Lebinyan Eretz Yisrael or “The National Fund for the Building of the Land of Israel Ltd.,” and through donations. A spokesperson for Nachala did not respond to requests for comment on the organization’s funding and settlement operation tactics.

    Similar to how Nachala raised money to build the Evyatar outpost, the settler group has again used the fundraising site Charidy for its recent settlement-building operation. Charidy is an Israeli subsidiary of the American company of the same name. Charidy did not respond to requests for comment on its platform being used to fund illegal activity.

    The largest donation was for 1 million shekels (about $290,000) from an anonymous donor. Other significant donations came from Friends of Nachala Toronto and Beit Midrash for the Torah of the Land of Israel, a Jewish study center in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva.

    Israeli settlers
    Jewish Settlers march in the hills of the Palestinian West Bank to build a new colony outside the settlement of Barkan, July 20, 2022. Ilia Yefimovich | dpa | AP

    The Nachala movement also supports itself through Geula Titnu La’aretz and Hakupah Haleumit Lebinyan Eretz Yisrael, both of which act as real estate companies. Hakupah Haleumit Lebinyan Eretz Yisrael was set up in 2017 to buy privately-owned Palestinian land. Geula Titnu La’aretz has also engaged in real estate deals, although it remains unclear if their land purchases have materialized.

    Geula Titnu La’aretz didn’t file annual reports with the Israeli registrar in the last two years, and therefore lost its certification of compliance this year. The latest financial data states it received nearly $140,000 in 2019 — all domestic contributions. Hakupah Haleumit Lebinyan Eretz Yisrael received nearly $200,000 in 2020, according to its recent filings. The majority of that sum — about $150,000 — came from abroad. Neither organization’s registrar files provide information on where these donations are from.

    While organizations listed in the Israeli registrar are required to report financial data, they do not have to detail where the specific contributions originated. In 2016, Israel passed an amendment to the Transparency Law requiring all non-profit organizations that receive 50% or more of their funding from foreign government entities to disclose these grants. Critics argue this piece of legislation unfairly targets left-wing organizations, specifically human rights groups, which receive a majority of their funding from foreign governments, compared to right-wing groups which receive most of their monies from private entities.

    Hirschfeld described how this lack of transparency helps keep Israeli settlement funding a secret. “The right wing doesn’t have to declare where the money is from,” he said.

    There is a lot of evangelist money, fascist money from Europe and the state, and things like this, but they don’t have to publish it, so it’s difficult to follow the money of the right-wing organizations.”

    Like other Israeli organizations, Nachala has a U.S. wing entitled Friends of Nachala Israel. However, Friends of Nachala Israel does not have a website nor is the organization registered with the Internal Revenue Services, so information on its director or funding isn’t known.


    The Nachala movement has received significant backing from Israeli society. Several politicians and prominent rabbis have endorsed Nachala’s operations, including Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Israeli members of parliament, Bezalel Smotrich, Simcha Rothman, May Golan, and Orit Strouk.

    While Israeli right-wing organizations have been promoting Nachala’s activity, in particular the American non-profit, Americans For A Safe Israel, has openly supported Nachala’s activity online. The group’s followers have also reportedly donated to the Evyatar outpost last year, according to AFSI’s director.

    And while Israeli authorities worked to dismantle the outposts, activists assert the Nachala group is supported by the Israeli state, specifically through settlement municipalities. “This plan is being promoted by more than 20 Israeli right-wing movements and bodies led by the Nachala Settlement Movement, with active involvement and support from settlements and regional and local municipalities.” Yesh Din’s executive director, Ziv Stahl, wrote in a letter to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Thomas R. Nides.

    As evidenced on Nachala’s Charidy site, several settlements donated to its campaign, including Gush Etzion, Kedumim, Bet El, and Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, which governs 46 settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

    “These settlement municipalities are strongly cooperating with [Nachala],” Dror Etkes, an anti-settlement activist and founder of Israeli land research organization, Kerem Navot, told MintPress News.

    Etkes detailed that through local and regional settlement councils, Nachala is provided with road access, electricity, water, building contractors, and other equipment.

    “[Nachala’s operation] cannot work without governmental money. It cannot work without consent of the governmental bodies, military, police, and the Civil Administration,” Etkes said, describing how Nachala settlers were surveying the land for weeks prior to building the recent string of outposts. “Not only did the military not stop them, but they actually helped.”

    With Israel’s current interim government, Nachala’s plans may not come fully into fruition, given their outposts were torn down in a day. But if a right-wing extremist coalition takes power in November, then Nachala may gain the political reality needed to execute their land grab fantasies.


    JULY 7TH, 2022


    By Ramzy Baroud

    Fifteen years have passed since Israel imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip, subjecting nearly two million Palestinians to one of the longest and most cruel politically-motivated blockades in history.

    The Israeli government had then justified its siege as the only way to protect Israel from Palestinian “terrorism and rocket attacks”. This remains the official Israeli line until this day. Not many Israelis – certainly not in government, media or even ordinary people – would argue that Israel today is safer than it was prior to June 2007.

    It is widely understood that Israel has imposed the siege as a response to the Hamas takeover of the Strip, following a brief and violent confrontation between the two main Palestinian political rivals, Hamas, which currently rules Gaza, and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

    However, the isolation of Gaza was planned years before the Hamas-Fatah clash, or even the Hamas’ legislative election victory of January 2006. Late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was determined to redeploy Israeli forces out of Gaza, years prior to these dates.

    What finally culminated in the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza in August-September 2005 was proposed by Sharon in 2003, approved by his government in 2004, and finally adopted by the Knesset in February 2005.

    The ‘disengagement’ was an Israeli tactic that aimed at removing a few thousand illegal Jewish settlers out of Gaza – to other illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank – while redeploying the Israeli army from crowded Gaza population centers to the border areas. This was the actual start of the Gaza siege.

    The above assertion was even clear to James Wolfensohn, who was appointed by the Quartet on the Middle East as the Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. In 2010, he reached a similar conclusion:

    Gaza had been effectively sealed off from the outside world since the Israeli disengagement … and the humanitarian and economic consequences for the Palestinian population were profound.”

    The ultimate motive behind the ‘disengagement’ was not Israel’s security, or even to starve Gazans as a form of collective punishment. The latter was one natural outcome of a much more sinister political plot, as communicated by Sharon’s own senior advisor at the time, Dov Weisglass. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in October 2004, Weisglass put it plainly: “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process.” How?

    “When you freeze (the peace) process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders, and Jerusalem,” according to Weisglass. Not only was this Israel’s ultimate motive behind the disengagement and subsequent siege on Gaza but, according to the seasoned Israeli politician, it was all done “with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” The President in question here is no other than US president at the time, George W. Bush.

    All of this had taken place before Palestine’s legislative elections, Hamas’ victory, and the Hamas-Fatah clash. The latter merely served as a convenient justification for what had already been discussed, ‘ratified’ and implemented.

    Palestinian children play outside their homes on the outskirts of the Khan Younis refugee camp, Jan. 19, 2022. Khalil Hamra | AP

    For Israel, the siege has been a political ploy, which acquired additional meaning and value as time passed. In response to the accusation that Israel was starving Palestinians in Gaza, Weisglass was very quick to muster an answer:

    The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

    What was then understood as a facetious, albeit thoughtless statement, turned out to be actual Israeli policy, as indicated in a 2008 report, which was made available in 2012. Thanks to the Israeli human rights organization Gisha, the “redlines (for) food consumption in the Gaza Strip” – composed by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – was made public. It emerged that Israel was calculating the minimum number of calories necessary to keep Gaza’s population alive, a number that is “adjusted to culture and experience” in the Strip.

    The rest is history. Gaza’s suffering is absolute. 98% of the Strip’s water is undrinkable. Hospitals lack essential supplies and life-saving medications. Movement in and out of the Strip is practically prohibited, with minor exceptions.

    Still, Israel has failed miserably in achieving any of its objectives. Tel Aviv hoped that the ‘disengagement’ would compel the international community to redefine the legal status of the Israeli occupation of Gaza. Despite Washington’s pressure, that never happened. Gaza remains part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories as defined in international law.

    Even the September 2007 Israeli designation of Gaza as an “enemy entity” and a “hostile territory” changed little, except that it allowed the Israeli government to declare several devastating wars on the Strip, starting in 2008.

    None of these wars have successfully served a long-term Israeli strategy. Instead, Gaza continues to fight back on a much larger scale than ever before, frustrating the calculation of Israeli leaders, as it became clear in their befuddled, disturbing language. During one of the deadliest Israeli wars on Gaza in July 2014, Israeli right-wing Knesset member, Ayelet Shaked, wrote on Facebook that the war was “not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority.” Instead, according to Shaked, who a year later became Israel’s Minister of Justice, “… is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people.”

    In the final analysis, the governments of Sharon, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Naftali Bennett failed to isolate Gaza from the greater Palestinian body, and break the will of the Strip or ensure Israeli security at the expense of Palestinians.

    Moreover, Israel has fallen victim to its own hubris. While prolonging the siege will achieve no short or long-term strategic value, lifting the siege, from Israel’s viewpoint, would be tantamount to an admission of defeat – and could empower Palestinians in the West Bank to emulate the Gaza model. This lack of certainty further accentuates the political crisis and lack of strategic vision that continued to define all Israeli governments for nearly two decades.

    Inevitably, Israel’s political experiment in Gaza has backfired, and the only way out is for the Gaza siege to be completely lifted and, this time, for good.

    Rights Groups Warn Against ‘Israeli’ Move to Register Land Adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque

    June 29, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    Rights groups warned of “far-reaching implications” of the Zionist occupation regime’s controversial move to start the process of registering the ownership of land adjacent to the al-holy Aqsa Mosque in the occupied city of al-Quds.

    The process of the “settlement of land title procedure” was initiated last week in the Abu Thor area as well as the Umayyad Palaces site adjacent to the southern wall of al-Aqsa Mosque, reports said.

    According to Middle East Eye, rights groups Ir Amim and Bimkom said in a joint statement on Monday that the fund allocated to the procedure has been largely utilized to register land for illegal settlements and will ultimately lead to further Palestinian dispossession.

    “[The procedure] carries possible disastrous ramifications for hundreds of Palestinian homes in Abu Thor, while the other has an acute potential for escalating tensions due to its highly sensitive location in close proximity to al-Aqsa,” according to the statement.

    “There is grave concern that the state is advancing the settlement of title process in the Umayyad Palaces/Ophel site to enable ‘Israeli’ takeover of this territory through its formal registration as ‘state’ land while aiding ‘state’-backed settler groups in their aggressive efforts to gain control of these highly sensitive locations.”

    Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, deputy director of the al-Quds Islamic Waqf, in his remarks on Monday stressed that changing the ownership of Umayyad Palaces was invalid and in breach of the Geneva Convention.

    In 2018, the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime for the first time began promoting the “settlement of land title procedure.”

    In 2020, Ir Amim said the process was being used as a tool to “seize more land in East al-Quds, leading to the expansion of ‘Israeli’ settlements and further Palestinian dispossession.”

    More than 600,000 Zionist settlers occupy more than 230 settlements built since the 1967 ‘Israeli’ occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

    All ‘Israeli’ settlements are deemed illegal under international law as they are built on the occupied land. The United Nations Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in a series of resolutions.

    Additionally, the area south of al-Aqsa Mosque is also the scene of ‘Israeli’ excavations that threaten the foundation of the holy site.

    On Monday, the Council of Endowments, Islamic Affairs, and Holy Places said excavations made by the Zionist occupation regime in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque were threatening its foundations, saying new cracks have appeared in the floor of the sacred site.

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