Personal testimony from a Palestinian describing destruction of villages
Readers will be familiar with the issue of the apartheid system operating in Israel from a previous post which offered links to reports by Human Rights Watch, the UN, B’Tselem and Amnesty. The reports are detailed accounts of the system operating there which means Palestinians are denied freedom of movement, proper education and suffer from demolitions of their villages and uprooting of olive groves.
An article in the Foreign Policy Journal in 2021 – itself referring to an article in the Haaretz newspaper – describes the extensive use of firing zones and that around 18% of the West Bank is so designated. These Area C ordinances have ‘a degree of control so suffocating that every aspect of Palestinian life – freedom of movement, education, access to clean water and so on – is controlled by a complex system of Israeli military ordinances that have no regard whatsoever of the well-being of beleaguered communities‘. The areas are under military law whereas Israeli citizens are under civil law.
In last night’s Amnesty webinar (1 November 2022) we heard from witnesses as to how this system actually works. Cars are confiscated (and the FPJ refers to the seizure of the only vehicle conveying medical supplies) and people are forcibly evicted from their homes. There are checkpoints everywhere with lengthy delays to get through. The community described is called Masafer Yatta.
If a Palestinian should lodge an appeal in the courts they said, the Army will arrive and demolish homes and clinics before the court has time to sit. Entire villages have been so demolished. No alternative locations are offered it was claimed. The Israelis say the homes have been built without permission but since courts refuse most permissions this seems a somewhat unworthy argument.
We asked what can be done? The main response was to make sure our MPs are aware of the situation. They also pointed to a petition https://www.parallelparliament.co.uk/petitions/625771/take-action-to-prevent-expulsion-of-residents-from-masafer-yatta.
The Israeli government’s response to the Amnesty report in particular has been described in various articles as ‘hysterical’. Whereas the HRW and B’Tselem reports could largely be ignored, Amnesty has a much larger profile and so a major effort had been launched to counter it. An analysis of Israeli responses can be read here. They amount to 1. Amnesty is antisemitic, 2. it denies the right of Israel for self-determination and 3. holds Israel to ‘uniquely harsh standards’ it does not apply elsewhere. The main point is that we were unable to find a detailed response to the findings of the reports pointing out errors of fact in the Amnesty or other reports.