Elias Akleh: Day of Palestinian Rage
December 1st 2013
Last Friday, the 29th of November, was the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People as dedicated by the UN General Assembly (resolution 32/40 B). On the same day Palestinians had called for “Day of Rage” demonstrations against Israeli theft of Palestinian land especially the on going theft of Naqab (Negev) area.
The generation old Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations have been futile due to Israeli perpetual theft of Palestinian land and the building of more Jewish colonies (settlement). Under the American pressure the Palestinian Authority agreed to restart peace talks this summer after a three-year stalemate. Yet immediately after this the Israeli government had approved the building of thousands more housing units on usurped Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Al-Quds (Jerusalem). More Palestinian homes were also demolished by Israeli army in Al-Quds.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) the Israeli government has demolished over 500 Palestinian homes in East Al-Quds since the beginning of this year (2013). Israel has also displaced 862 Palestinians. Since occupying the West Bank in 1967 Israel has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures according to OCHA.
Israeli government is planning on demolishing homes of over 15,000 Palestinians in Al-Quds. The Israeli army had posted warrants on 200 residential blocks, each consisting of 40 -70 apartments. Among these buildings there is a mosque and a newly built school. The orders came very shortly after mayor Nir Barakat has been elected for a new term.
The UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon had issued a statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People urging Israel to call off plans to expand building in illegal settlements. Human Rights Watch has blasted the Israeli government for its mandatory transfer of Palestinians from their Jordan Valley homes calling it a “prosecutable war crime.”
In its on-going implementation of the Zionist scheme of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the Israeli Knesset had approved, last June 2013, what is known as the Prawer-Begin Bill (known as Prawer Plan) calling for the mass expulsion of the Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab (Negev) area south of occupied Palestine. When fully implemented the Prawer Plan will result in the destruction of 35 Palestinian Bedouin villages, the forced evacuation of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins; citizens of Israel, and the confiscation of their land for the purpose of building 15 new Jewish only colonies.
In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, introduced by former Deputy Chair of the National Security Council, Ehud Prawer. The plan calls for the building of Jewish only settlements in the Naqab area to accommodate newly immigrant Jews. The problem facing this plan was the existence of 35 Palestinian Bedouin villages in the area. In May 2013 the Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation included the recommendations of Minister Benny Begin to the Plan and approved the proposed “Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev -2013” dubbed “The Prawer-Begin Bill”. The Bill was approved without any consultation with the local community leaders.
The Israeli government claimed that the Prawer plan aims to improve the Bedouins’ economic, social and living conditions, as well as resolving long-standing land issues. It further claimed that the Plan guarantees a better future for the Bedouin children providing them with civil services, schooling opportunities, easy access to health clinics, and employment opportunities for parents. If this is true, then why couldn’t the Israeli government provide all these services to these 35 villages rather than evicting their inhabitants without providing them any alternative housing? Instead the Israeli army started bulldozing some of these villages. More than 1,000 homes were demolished in 2011 alone, and close to another 1,000 were also demolished in 2012.
It is estimated that more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins are living in these 35 villages. Many of these villages predate the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Very few of them were created by the Israeli military order in the early 1950s to re-settle Palestinians, who were forcefully evicted from their towns due to Israeli occupation. They were told that their eviction was temporary and that they would go back to their towns after war is over. Yet these towns were occupied by Jewish immigrants instead. These villages were unrecognized by the Israeli government and did not receive any civil services; water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and transportation. The Palestinian Bedouins were declared “illegal occupiers of state property” by Israeli Minister Silvan Shalom.
Israel is a serial war criminal. Its crimes target Palestinians every day. Palestinian villages across the West Bank face unrelenting assaults by the Israeli military. Palestinian home demolitions and razing Palestinian agricultural land have become a daily routine for the Israeli military bulldozers. During last week of November the Israeli occupation authorities declared its intention to confiscate 1500 acres of Palestinian agricultural land in Aqraba village near Nablus and have sent its bulldozers to raze land in order to build a new Jewish only road connecting the illegal settlements of Itamar and Ginnot Shomeron (palestine-info.co.uk)
In 29th November four Israeli military vehicles raided the town of Barta’a southwest of Jenin and handed ten citizens notifications of the intended demolition of their 14 homes due to building without permits. Building permits are not granted to Palestinians while Israeli extremists are allowed to build illegal settlement without any permits. ( Palestine-info.co.uk)
On 28th of November Israeli military bulldozers razed Palestinian lands in villages south of the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Witnesses told Ma’an News that several Israeli military vehicles escorted the bulldozers to the villages of Ras “Atiya, Ras Al-Tira, and Izbat Jalud, where they razed vast agricultural areas.
The inhabitants of the village of Deir Istiya have been the target of nearby extremist settlers’ terror attacks against their crops and water supply since 1990. This has culminated last week when the Israel military obtained a court ruling allowing them to uproot nearly 2500 olive trees in the Wadi Kana, a valley making up a large part of the village’s farmland. This uprooting will decimate the village’s agriculture and economy destroying the livelihoods of as much as 4000 inhabitants of Deir Istiya. (Palsolidarity.org)
Besides these and many other disruptions and destructions of Palestinian property and lives the Israeli illegal colonies on stolen Palestinian land continues with abatement. The Times of Israel reported November 28th that 7% of the new Israeli construction sites erected this year were located in the West Bank, and the number of building projects across the Green Line rose by nearly 130% compared to 2012. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that since the beginning of 2013, 32,290 construction sites for housing units were erected across Israel, an increase of 5.5% compared to the corresponding time frame in 2012. There has also been an increase of 12.4% in the number of apartment buildings, whose construction was completed, with roughly 30,970 homes finalized since the beginning of 2013.
It is only a matter of time before their rage develops into another, but more violent, Intifada.
All these Israeli crimes of ethnic cleansing, land theft, illegal settlements buildings, extra-judicial assassinations are been perpetrated against the Palestinians under the eyes of the unwilling-to-move international legal bodies. Palestinians have given up on the futile peace negotiations. They lost confidence into the weak Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus, whose main job seems to protect Israeli interests rather than its own citizens. The elected Hamas government is besieged by Israel and Egypt in Gaza Strip and can barely manage survival for Gaza inhabitants. They have given up on the support of other Arab countries, which are struggling with their own internal conflicts. They got completely fed up. Enough is enough. They have decided to take matters into their own bare hands. They have called for a Day of Rage demonstrations against Israeli crimes and have gone out into the streets in mass.