Déardaoin, Lúnasa 06, 2009

Palestine – Detention, Annexation and Ethnic Cleansing the Order of the Day

At 3am on Monday morning [August 3], 200 Israeli soldiers poured into the small Palestinian village of Bil’in in the West Bank.

The soldiers raided a number of houses and arrested seven Palestinians, four of them teenagers, as well as an international activist from the United States.

The Israeli forces then threw sound bombs at residents who came to protest against the regular night raids, and maintained a presence in the area for several hours – ensuring that locals would once again be deprived of any rest or reprieve from the zionist occupation.

In similar acts of repression, 14 other Palestinians were arrested in different parts of the West Bank at the same time. Ten of them were seized from their homes in Bethlehem, Ramallah and Qalqiliya, despite the Israeli government previously stating that those areas had been handed over to total Palestinian Authority control.

Two days earlier, Israeli occupation forces arrested 154 Palestinian workers for “illegally residing in Israel”. Several of these ‘illegal’ workers were detained, while the rest were ‘deported’ into areas nominally administered by the PA.

On Sunday morning [August 2], Israel evicted over 50 Palestinians from Jerusalem [Al Quds]. Israeli police and border guards stormed into the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the east of the city and drove two families from their homes at gunpoint, not letting them bring any of their belongings with them. The Israeli forces then destroyed a number of tents near the two homes and arrested 20 solidarity activists who were present in the area.

In the Silwan area of east Jerusalem, around 90 homes that lie near the Old City are due to be demolished. They are to be destroyed ostensibly because they were built without permits from Israeli authorities, although a number of them were built before Israeli forces occupied the region.

It is almost impossible for a Palestinian to get a building permit from Israel’s municipal authorities. While this situation has dragged on for years, in recent months the current Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently expressed its desire that Jerusalem be the united capital of a jewish, zionist state.

In this context, the ongoing home demolitions and evictions can be seen for what they are. According to Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior Fatah official in Jerusalem: “We discovered recently that there is a plan that is submitted to the local Israeli committee for construction by the Elad settlement group to establish a settlement outpost on six dunums [1.5 acres] of lands of Al-Yemen neighbourhood in Silwan with 60 homes. What is really astonishing is that the plan does not fulfil the legal conditions required by the municipality, particularly proof of ownership of the land… this proves that there is clear collusion with the settler organisations to confiscate homes and lands especially in Silwan and eventually Judaizing all of the holy city.”

The evictions, demolitions and settlement building are all illegal under international law, but, aside from a few words of disapproval, the international community has done nothing to intervene in the matter.

With Fatah’s national conference being held in Bethlehem from Tuesday to today [Thursday], the actions of the zionist state might well force the party to reconsider the realities of the peace process and the divisions within Palestinian society. A united Palestinian people is the biggest threat the zionist project could ever face.

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