‘We’re here to pressure the village’: Israeli troops admit collective punishment policy

Palestine Update 522

‘We’re here to pressure the village’: Israeli troops admit collective punishment policy

The Israeli army has subjected Dir Nizam to near-total closures and violent incursions since December. And soldiers are frank about why they’re doing it.

Israeli soldiers operate a checkpoint at the entrance to the Palestinian village of Dir Nizam, occupied West Bank, January 11, 2021. (Rachel Shor)

I visited the area last week, and asked the soldiers what exactly they were doing there: …”The [checkpoint] we’ve set up here is to create pressure on the village itself. We’re causing adults to be late for work in the morning, we’re really making their daily lives difficult. The adults are aware of what’s happening with the young children, and they are against it. They don’t want them throwing stones.” So this is actually a form of collective punishment imposed on the village? “Completely. It’s collective punishment over the whole village.”
What are the Palestinian organisations and political parties waiting for?|

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank, 25 May 2021 [ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP/Getty Images]The situation inside the Palestinian arena is more dangerous than the Palestinian people think. The sense of being lost that the Palestinian cause is experiencing is likely to escalate, and the Israeli ambitions to achieve more political gains and achievements do not stop. Moreover, the removal of the Palestinian cause from the political agenda in the Middle East is progressing in full swing and promoting normalization and security cooperation with the Israelis at the regional level is moving at full speed.

Without beating around the bush or the need to go into political analysis and intellectual diligence, the responsibility for the deterioration of the Palestinian situation rests with Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah Central Committee and the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. They are the first accused for destroying the Palestinian cause and putting the cause through the eye of the needle of security cooperation with the Israeli intelligence, in return for receiving financial aid and lifestyle privileges. This miserable situation weighs on the Palestinian people who are wondering: Where are the Palestinian organisations? What are they waiting for? What are the political forces counting on? Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas presents, on every occasion, and in every meeting with his central committee, the conclusive evidence of his disdain for the Palestinian people, contempt for their organisations and the exclusion of their political forces.

Israel: spyware NSO Group in talks to sell after scandal

An Israeli woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]was NSO chairman from April 2020. He came in as an appointee of UK-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital, which bought NSO in 2019.Israeli spyware company NSO Group is in talks to sell the company following last year’s scandal which revealed that it had sold its Pegasus programme to foreign governments, which used it to target government officials, journalists and others. Israeli media outlets reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had told Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai that he was going to open an investigation into claims that the police had also used the spyware to break into telephones belonging to Israeli citizens. According to the reports, Mandelblit asked Shabtai to hand over all warrants for phone-tapping operations in 2020/21 as part of the investigation. NSO Group chairman Asher Levy confirmed that he had left the company at the end of 2021. He denied that his departure had any connection to current lawsuits against the company. Levy


Israel bars entry of warm clothes into unheated cells of Palestinian detainees

Palestinians holding banners gather to protest against the decision of Israel's "administrative detention" in front of the Red Crescent Building in Gaza City, Gaza on December 20, 2021 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails are suffering from the cold due to a lack of heating, along with authorities’ blocking of donations of winter clothes, a Palestinian official body said.  “All detainees suffer from shortages of clothes and blankets and the lack of heating means that could protect them from the cold weather,” the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs said in a statement. The statement added that Israeli authorities also hindered and restricted the entry of cold-weather clothing and blankets to the inmates. It added that Israel’s inhumane policy is part of a systematic effort to erode Palestinian detainees’ determination and resilience. The statement demanded that international human rights groups intervene to help the Palestinian detainees. As of last December, Palestinian NGOs estimated that there are around 4,600 Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, with at least 600 suffering from illnesses as well as 160 juveniles and 34 women inmates.

Hamas says no progress on prisoner swap with Israeli occupation

A view of the exhibition held by Hamas to draw attention to situations of detainees in Israeli jails within the 10th anniversary of the prisoner swap in 2011, at the Unknown Soldier Monument in Gaza City, Gaza on October 13, 2021 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has denied that progress has made on a potential prisoner swap with the Israeli occupation authorities, Quds Press reported.  Hamas reported that Israeli officials keep asking different countries which they visit to mediate on an exchange deal. The Speaker of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), Miki Levy, for example, asked for Germany’s assistance to mediate with Hamas. Levy apparently asked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his help in reaching a deal for the release of Israelis captured by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza. A number of potential mediators, including the Swiss, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and Norway, as well as Germany, have discussed the issue with the movement. “All the mediators reached a point where they were sure that Israel is not serious about a prisoner swap at this stage.”

 Israel believes that the bodies of two of its soldiers, Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Sergeant Oron Shaul, are being held in Gaza after they were killed in battle during the 2014 assault on the enclave. This is in addition to two alleged civilians, who Hamas says are also soldiers and are being held as prisoners of war.

At a West Bank Outpost, Israeli Settlers Flaunt Their Power
The Jewish settlement of Homesh, built on privately owned Palestinian land deep inside the occupied West Bank, was dismantled in 2005 and cannot be rebuilt. At least, that’s what Israeli law says. But when a group of settlers drove up to the site last week, they were waved through army checkpoints that were closed to Palestinian vehicles and arrived at a cluster of tents on the windy hilltop. There, dozens of settlers were studying in a makeshift yeshiva, or religious school. Empty bottles and bags of trash stood out for collection, the remains of a holiday feast attended by hundreds of settlers the night before and documented on social media.

The settlers’ ability to maintain a presence at Homesh, guarded by a detachment of Israeli soldiers, is a vivid display of the power of the settler movement nearly 55 years after Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.Their strength has also been on display in a wave of attacks against Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in recent months, many in plain view of Israeli soldiers, who appear unable or unwilling to stop them, despite Israeli officials’ promises to maintain law and order. The worst of the violence has been linked to hard-line settler outposts like Homesh. That Israeli authorities have not cleared Homesh – which under Israeli law is blatantly illegal — makes it nearly impossible to imagine the removal of any of Israel’s 130 officially authorized settlements as part of any future peace deal. Nearly 500,000 settlers now live in those settlements, as well as dozens of unauthorized outposts like Homesh.

The Palestinians view the settlements as the main obstacle to any two-state solution to the century-old conflict, and most countries view them as a violation of international law. But in an increasingly hawkish Israel, the settlers enjoy wide support. Israel dismantled the settlement in 2005 as part of its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the law prohibits Israeli citizens from entering the area. Israel’s Supreme Court has acknowledged that the land belongs to Palestinians from the nearby village of Burqa. But the settlers have repeatedly returned, setting up tents and other structures on the foundations of former homes, now overgrown with weeds.

Israel’s parliament is dominated by parties that support the settlers. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a former settler leader and is opposed to Palestinian statehood. The consequences are felt by Palestinians in Burqa and surrounding villages.