Palestine Update 536
Israel’s expulsion mode, denial of family reunification, Gaza’s growing chaos, and dual standards on BDS on Israel and Ukraine.
Israel persists in its expulsion mode of political oppression. It has been happening year after year beginning 1948. Mass expulsions by the regime against Palestinians have always had catastrophic penalties. In the political lectionary of Israel, ethnic cleansing is routine and carried out without the blink of an eyelid. The international community has, after all, seemingly licensed it by turning a deaf ear and blind eye. The resultant ordeal should have qualified as war crimes some decades ago and a couple of bigwigs thrown into jail for long sentences. Soon the High Court will legitimize the dispossession in eight villages and of 1,300 people. Anything in the corridor to removal will be bulldozed, regardless of whether they are homes, or schools, or wells, or anything of utility to Palestinian survival. Palestinians painfully watch as this happens but are unable to cut short the designs of the occupier for most part.
Alongside this, the enormous uncertainty of family reunification in the face of impending legislation is creating one more painful wound the effects of which will leave scars on families. These moves proceed, despite, the UN Secretary General’s request to “further facilitate family reunification of all citizens and permanent residents of Israel.”
Ironically, Gaza continues to bleed in many new ways despite the attention that the world has been urged to take note of. More hunger, poverty, and now, the growing phenomena of individual indebtedness of people who borrow and can barely pay back. As a report from Electronic Intifada outs it: “Under a 2005 law, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza may be imprisoned for up to 91 days per year if they do not repay debts.”
A report on the Palestinian condition these days cannot conclude without juxtaposing the plight of Palestinians and the war in Ukraine. Swift to push BDS on Russia, Palestinian advocacy for retailers to stop selling Israeli goods has been met with unlawful prosecution. Such are two faces of global solidarity. The whole situation in terms of how different nationalities are treated by Ukrainian authorities has shown up racist differentiations and double standards in the West.
Israel’s top court will decide whether to expel 1,300 of my neighbors
By Basil al-Adraa
When I was three years old, Israeli soldiers marched through my village on their way to forcibly expel my neighbors, arresting anyone who tried to remain. In the village of a-Tuwani, where I was born and raised, the soldiers let us be, yet over 700 others turned into refugees in a heartbeat. That was in 1999, following a decision by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The army demolished 14 of the surrounding villages in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills, located in the occupied West Bank.
The mass expulsion was traumatic, and in many ways remained with me into my adult life. The army justified our ethnic cleansing by saying that our homes were in Firing Zone 918, where soldiers were supposed to train. But this is false. In the 1980s, the firing zone was declared on top of our villages where we have been living for decades, in order to expel us from them.
I was four years old, my expelled neighbors petitioned the High Court, which issued a temporary order that allowed them to return to their homes — until a final decision is made. Twenty-two years have passed, and the court never decided our fate. We grew up in the shadow of waiting for a decision: will they expel the people I love and know best, or won’t they? On March 15, the court is set to hold its final hearing on the issue. After that it will make a decision.
The fate of eight villages and 1,300 people is once again on the agenda. As a Palestinian living under the military occupation of a foreign invader, we do not have the right to decide our fate. This feeling — that you are being controlled by others — permeates every aspect of our lives here, every single day. For the last 22 years, I watched as the army tried to break up my community. It has dispossessed us of our land, slowly, while bulldozing nearly everything in its path- homes, solar panels, wells.
I open up my hard drive, which is packed with footage taken by those who came before me. There are photos and videos documenting dozens upon dozens of forms of expulsion, families whose homes have been repeatedly demolished. Then come the photos of neighbors in the middle of the night, gathering cinder blocks, sandbags, and tin panels in their tractors in order to rebuild the homes of those who had become homeless.
Our expulsion from Masafer Yatta has never ceased over the last two decades. Lacking the ability to expel everyone at once, like in 1999, the army has tried to slowly dispossess us. To immiserate us until we leave. Every year, I have watched as Israeli soldiers seal our wells, cut water lines, and destroy the roads that connect our villages. The dangerous road conditions here are a constant reminder of a racist reality governed by an army that denies us our ability to live on our land legally. Even our vehicles are confiscated by soldiers when they feel like it. Our lives have become nearly impossible. We want to build families and homes, but know the army will destroy those as well.
Since last summer, in the run up to Tuesday’s hearing, I have been meeting regularly with diplomats to explain to them the injustice taking place here in Masafer Yatta. I ask them to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop the demolition of our homes. I asked them why, in their discussions with Israeli leaders, do they talk about the number of homes demolished rather than demanding Israel cease the demolitions entirely. But most of all I ask them why they don’t do anything. After all, people in power could take action to stop this from continuing.
It has been difficult not to think about Russia, and the way in which the international community has rushed to isolate and sanction the Russian regime. Here, the world insists on recycling empty rhetoric of the two-state solution and issuing vapid condemnations while the settlements continue to expand and the occupation only deepens. As opposed to Russia, the occupation here continues unperturbed.
So while the Russian army continues to turn millions of Ukrainians into refugees, know that here the High Court is weighing the second expulsion of hundreds of people who are dear to me. They may soon become refugees themselves, because the Israeli army demands it, for no reason other than to realize the racist vision of Judaizing the South Hebron Hills. There’s much debate on whether the world is doing enough to stop the occupation of Ukraine. But at least it’s doing something. When it comes to our occupation, it seems the world isn’t doing a thing.
UN chief concerned over Israeli legislation banning reunification of Palestinian families
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed yesterday his concern over a recently enacted Israeli legislation banning the reunification of Palestinian families. “The Secretary-General is concerned about the impact of the law on Palestinian families seeking to reunify in Israel and East Jerusalem, and in this connection underscores relevant concerns expressed by the UN human rights treaty bodies in the past,” said Guterres’ deputy spokesman Farhan Haq in a press briefing.
“The secretary-general has been following this long-standing issue and has taken note of the vote of the Knesset to pass a temporary order applying the law for 12 months,” he added. The UN Secretary-General “specifically calls on Israel to ensure that its domestic legislation respects the principles of equality, nondiscrimination and proportionality and international human rights law.”
Haq also said the secretary-general calls on Israel to “further facilitate family reunification of all citizens and permanent residents of Israel.” Last week, the Israeli parliament voted to renew the so-called Citizenship Law, which prevents Palestinians from the occupied territories married to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to unite or live together in Israel. The law also prohibits the entry of Arabs from countries “hostile” to Israel, such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, for family reunification purposes.
Delays to EU aid mean Gaza’s poor get jailed for debt
Life is hard for Muhammad. “We have to make the bread we eat last as long as possible,” the father of five said. “We try to make sure that it doesn’t rot. Sometimes we have to moisten it with a little water.” A resident of Beach refugee camp in Gaza City, Muhammad has not been able to pay electricity or water bills for many years. “I cannot pay the money I owe to the supermarket,” he stated. “So I avoid walking past it.”
Muhammad was imprisoned twice during 2021. In April, he was locked up for three days, then for six weeks beginning in October. On both occasions, court orders were issued for his arrest over unpaid debts. Muhammad had borrowed money from someone he had worked with in the past. He needed the money to buy food, clothes and school stationery for his children. The lender insisted that Muhammad pay back the money in full. Under a 2005 law, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza may be imprisoned for up to 91 days per year if they do not repay debts.
Read full narrative
Carrefour joins forces with Israeli settlement profiteers
Over the weekend, the hashtag #boycottcarrefour trended on social media in France. This was prompted by reports that the retail giant had decided to withdraw Russian products from its stores to protest the invasion of Ukraine. One photo circulating widely on Twitter apparently shows a sign at a Carrefour branch in Nice. It reads, “Dear customers, following current events, all Russian products have been withdrawn from our shelves in support of Ukraine.”There are also reports that Carrefour stores in Poland have stopped selling Russian goods.
Many social media users expressed anger at Carrefour, because for years supporters of Palestinian rights have been campaigning for the retailer to stop selling Israeli goods, including products from settlements in the occupied West Bank. A number of activists in France were even criminally prosecuted for demanding a boycott of Israeli goods, on the basis that such calls were racist.
In 2020, the European Court of Human Rights overturned the convictions of 11 activists who had protested in Carrefour stores calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. The judges ruled unanimously that the convictions violated the activists’ political rights and freedom of expression. However, France-based Carrefour does not appear to have announced any ban on Russian goods either on its social media accounts or on its corporate news pages. It is possible that the removal of Russian goods in some Carrefour stores was a local initiative. Supermarkets across Europe are doing so as a matter of policy.
‘Hypocrisy Does Not Begin to Describe It’: Baroud on the Ukraine Crisis and the Changing Global Order (VIDEO)
In a wide-ranging interview with Palestine Deep Dive (PDD), Mark Seddon discusses with distinguished Palestinian journalist and author, Dr. Ramzy Baroud, the unfolding crisis in Ukraine through the eyes of the Palestinian people.
While examining what seems to be emerging on the global geopolitical stage, Baroud also highlighted the hypocrisy of the international community, as well as the mainstream media in their response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in comparison to their response, or lack of it, to Israel’s ongoing 74-year occupation of Palestine. “People have the right to defend themselves against military occupation, period. Under any circumstance, regardless of the geopolitical nature of that conflict, and regardless of who’s involved in that conflict,” Baroud said.
Watch the video