[News] Israel makes hundreds of Palestinians homeless during pandemic

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 23 12:58:51 EDT 2020


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/israel-makes-hundreds-palestinians-homeless-during-pandemic
Israel
makes hundreds of Palestinians homeless during pandemic

Tamara Nassar <https://electronicintifada.net/people/tamara-nassar> - 23
September 2020
------------------------------
[image: Damaged furniture and rubble on open land]

Palestinians look at the remains of a home demolished by Israel in the West
Bank village of Farasin, near Jenin, on 11 August.
APA images

Israel has made hundreds more Palestinians homeless during the pandemic.

Since March, when the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the occupied
West Bank, Israeli forces have demolished or confiscated
<https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiMmJkZGRhYWQtODk0MS00MWJkLWI2NTktMDg1NGJlMGNiY2Y3IiwidCI6IjBmOWUzNWRiLTU0NGYtNGY2MC1iZGNjLTVlYTQxNmU2ZGM3MCIsImMiOjh9>
almost 400 Palestinian structures.

That’s almost 65 per month – the highest average in four years.

So far this year, Israel has forcibly displaced about 700 Palestinians –
most of them during the pandemic and half of them children.

In August
<https://www.ochaopt.org/sites/default/files/demolition_monthly_report-august_2020.pdf>
alone, Israel forced more than 200 Palestinians into homelessness.

That’s “more than in any other single month since January 2017,” according
<https://www.ochaopt.org/content/unlawful-demolitions-west-bank-spike-during-covid-19>
to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.

Those figures do not include the hundreds more whose livelihoods and
ability to access services were also hampered by Israel’s demolition
campaign.

Palestinians often demolish their own homes to avoid being landed with the
bill if Israel carries out the demolition.

Demolitions were not restricted to Palestinian homes.

Israeli occupation forces also destroyed or confiscated water, hygiene and
agriculture structures – a further attack on Palestinians’ ability to
respond to the pandemic.
Ethnic cleansing

Israel’s intensifying demolition campaign mostly targets Palestinians in Area
C <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/area-c>, the 60 percent of the West
Bank that remains under full Israeli military control and includes Israel’s
largest settlements.

The rest are taking place in occupied East Jerusalem, barring a small
number in Areas A and B – which are nominally under Palestinian Authority
control.

Palestinians in Area C have been left to fend for themselves
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-wrecks-efforts-halt-spread-covid-19/30211>
during the pandemic while Israel continues to colonize their land.

Israel’s pretext for most demolitions is that Palestinians build without
permits from the occupation authorities despite owning the land.

Israel refuses to permit virtually any Palestinian construction in Area C
or in occupied East Jerusalem, forcing Palestinians to build without
permits and live in constant fear of demolitions.

This is part of Israel’s relentless effort to change the demographics
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-rubberstamps-50-years-land-theft/30476>
in the area to ensure a Jewish majority. It is, in other words, ethnic
cleansing.

For some Israeli lawmakers, occupation forces are not doing enough to force
Palestinians off their land.

Ayelet Shaked, a former minister who has promoted calls for genocide
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes>
against Palestinians, proposed appointing a government official “whose
entire objective would be to prevent the takeover of Area C.”

This Orwellian language reverses Shaked’s true intention: She wants to *ensure
the takeover* of Area C by Israeli settlers from its indigenous Palestinian
population.

Another far-right Israeli lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bezalel-smotrich>, author of a genocidal
plan
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/eu-refuses-condemn-israeli-genocide-plan>
to expel Palestinians, has a different idea.

Smotrich has suggested that Israeli settlements – whose construction is a
war crime – be authorized to demolish Palestinian structures they deem
“unlicensed,” according
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-knesset-committee-39-of-west-bank-suffices-for-palestinian-construction-1.9147990>
to Tel Aviv daily *Haaretz*.

Other Israeli ministers have likened Palestinian construction in Area C to
“an exponential virus,” a “territorial terror” and “a cancer.”

Such language demonizing a people living on its own land as a disease is
reminiscent of the incitement that has in numerous times and places
preceded ethnic cleansing or genocide.
Destroying EU aid

In August alone, Israel demolished or seized almost $11,000 worth of
donor-funded structures, and more than $90,000 worth during the pandemic.

The majority of donor-funded structures demolished or seized this year were
funded by the European Union.

In 2019, Israel destroyed or seized half a million dollars worth of
EU-funded projects – a 90 percent <https://euobserver.com/foreign/147171>
increase from 2018.

Between 2001 and 2016, Israel caused
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-has-destroyed-74-million-worth-eu-projects>
an estimated $74 million in destruction to EU-funded projects. That
included $26 million worth during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.

But the European Union does nothing to hold Israel accountable for its
regular
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/israel-drastically-escalates-destruction-eu-funded-energy-projects>
practice
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/israel-demolishes-another-eu-funded-school>
of demolishing EU-funded projects.

Occasionally, the EU mission in the occupied West Bank issues
<https://www.un.org/unispal/document/local-eu-statement-on-demolitions-in-the-west-bank/>
statements of “concern.”

Meanwhile, the EU maintains its high levels of financial, technological and
political support for Israel, while sending public signals that further
incentivize its behavior.

Last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met Israeli foreign
minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Ashkenazi was army chief during Israel’s 2008-2009 attack on Gaza, Operation
Cast Lead <https://imeu.org/article/operation-cast-lead>, a three-week
massacre that killed some 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more
than 300 children.

Borrell congratulated Ashkenazi on Israel’s “normalization of relations
with the UAE,” and reaffirmed that “the EU and Israel are ready to continue
to work together.”

After a follow-up call with Ashkenazi this month, Borrell affirmed
<https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/85367/israel-high-representativevice-president-borrell-speaks-foreign-minister-ashkenazi_en>
the EU’s interest in “intensifying bilateral cooperation.”

While Ashkenazi is all smiles when his European hosts welcome him, his mood
is less friendly behind closed doors.

In a Knesset meeting in July, Ashkenazi said he considered any
European-funded project in Area C that “doesn’t honor Israeli
construction-permit procedures” as a “European intervention in an attempt
to define a border.”

In other words, the EU must let Israel alone dictate where its borders are
and must fully cooperate with its ethnic cleansing campaign.

Ashkenazi reportedly threatened that any European-funded structures built
in Area C without Israeli permission would face “consequences.” He added
that Israel would reject any European “demand for payment of compensation
for the demolishing or confiscation of the equipment.”

According to the numbers, Israel’s bullying of the EU works. EU-funded
projects have sharply decreased over the years, from 75 in 2015 to just 12
last year.
[image: Bulldozer builds structure on open land]

Jewish-only settlement of Nofei Nehemia built on Palestinian-owned land in
the Salfit area of the occupied West Bank, 13 August.
Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStillsChelsea owner funds settlements

Meanwhile, Israel’s settlements in Area C and occupied East Jerusalem
continue to flourish.

An Israeli court in Jerusalem gave the green light
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-court-orders-dozens-of-palestinians-out-of-jerusalem-homes-to-make-way-for-settlers-1.9157320>
earlier this month to expel dozens of Palestinians from their homes and
hand them to settler groups.

The latter argued that the homes belonged to Jews before the Nakba – the
1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Israel’s 1950 Absentee Property Law
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/absentee-property-law> allows Israel
to seize land and property owned by Palestinian refugees who fled or were
expelled during and after the Nakba.

Under a 1970 amendment
<http://www.ir-amim.org.il/sites/default/files/Absentees_against_their_will.pdf>
to its law, Israel allowed Jews to reclaim Jerusalem properties they left
in 1948, but did not allow the same right to Palestinians – a blatantly
racist measure.

The home in the Batan al-Hawa area of Silwan
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/silwan> in occupied East Jerusalem
belongs to the al-Fatah Rajbi family, 26 of whom will be made homeless,
*Haaretz* reported.

Now, the court is forcing the Palestinian family to hand over their home of
54 years to Ateret Cohanim
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ateret-cohanim>, a settler
organization that helps implement the Israeli government’s colonization of
Palestinian properties in Jerusalem.

The land was allegedly registered to a trust in the name of a rabbi under
Ottoman rule. In 2001, Israel’s high court transferred the land to Ateret
Cohanim.

Since then, the settler group has sued 700 Palestinians living on land
allegedly belonging to the trust in a bid to forcibly expel them.

Israeli settler groups have no shortage of help.

Newly exposed documents reveal
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-companies-linked-to-roman-abramovich-donated-100-million-to-right-wing-group-1.9173187>
that Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has contributed
more than $100 million to Elad <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/elad>,
another Israeli settler group that takes over Palestinian land and homes in
occupied East Jerusalem.

Abramovich is a Russian who took Israeli citizenship in 2018.

Chelsea is known
<https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/chelsea-fans-racism-anti-semitic-songs-bbc-film-tottenham-a4356761.html>
for the rampant racism and anti-Semitism
<https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2018/12/15/chelsea-fans-scrutiny-flag-bearing-nazi-logo/>
of its fans.
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