By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,008 of occupation
24 November 2005 - 30 November 2005
Europe`s disapproval leaks out
A new European Union report on Israel`s settlement activities in and around Jerusalem was leaked to international press this week. The report brings together a good deal of already known information about Israel`s plans in the West Bank: to cut off East Jersualem from the rest of the West Bank, to develop the large settlement of Ma`aleh Adumim into an illegal mega-settlement that will divide the West Bank roughly in half, and the way that all of this makes an independent Palestinian state impossible. The report also notes the continued overt and secret support from the Israeli government for illegal settlement, especially in the midst of Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The significance of this document is that it so strikingly constrasts with the public face of the European Union, of congratulating Israel on the Gaza `disengagement` and welcoming Israel into the international community. It is an admission that the EU maintains this politically-expedient facade knowing full-well that Israel has completely neutralized the road map and any possibility of a viable Palestinian state.
Justice minister admits that the fence is the border
Opponents of Israel`s so-called `separation fence` in the occupied West Bank have continually claimed that the fence is a political move to unilaterally annex additional Palestinian land and impose a permanent border. The state, in its defense, has always argued that the fence is a temporary measure for security purposes only. Now Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has publicly declared that the fence is `the future border of the state of Israel.` Livni added that `the High Court of Justice, in its rulings over the fence, is drawing the country`s borders.` The statements underline the active participation of the court in giving an aura of legality to a policy of annexation and theft of land.
Another Friday, more protests against the wall
A nonviolent protest against the annexation wall was held in the village of Abud, which is adjacent to the `finger` that stretches deep into the northern West Bank to enclose the large settlement of Ariel. The village stands to lose 5000 dunams of its land as the wall is built, for what the villagers call the Ariel `fingers and fingernails.` As usual, the village`s residents were joined by international and Israeli peace activists, as they marched toward the village`s lands that are already being torn up by bulldozers. As the marchers crossed the line the IDF had established, pushing back the coils of barbed wire the army had placed there, they were set upon with shock grenades, large quantities of tear gas, beatings and arrests.
Meanwhile, the weekly protest in Bil`in was held again, this time with a commemoration of the UN partition of Palestine on 29 November, 1947. The demonstrators managed to go around the IDF soldiers and make it to the construction site where they blocked bulldozers and banged on the metal structure with stones. Those present believe that the IDF is responding to the bad publicity it has received in the media on previous weeks, and has made a tactical decision reduce the force it uses against the marchers.
Intensified occupation in West Bank cities
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Israel stepped up its operations in and around the three West Bank cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jenin. IDF soldiers made numerous incursions into these areas, forcing their way into houses, ordering their residents out, and setting up guard posts on upper floors and roofs. The soldiers arrested roughly twenty residents. At least fifteen separate incursions were made on these two days. Those arrested included eight students of the Arab American University in Jenin, and the journalist, Ibrahim al Rajoub, who writes for the Al Quds newspaper, and Al Jazeera television.
On Tuesday, an undercover unit of IDF Duvdevan commandos was spotted by Palestinian Police as the Israeli soldiers were trying to stop a taxi to arrest one of its passengers. Israeli sources said that the police opened fire on the undercover soldiers, mistaking them for members of a Palestinian militia. But Palestinian sources said the the Israelis began firing into the air when they were discovered by the police, who tried to prevent them from arresting Palestinian civilians. The unit was eventually rescued by IDF reinforcements. This event comes one week after a Duvdevan commander refused to carry out an incursion that he believed was unnecessarily dangerous.
Sources: IMEMC, Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, Ynet, Indymedia Isarael.