Groundbreaking Call to Prevent US Aid for Palestinian Demolition

US FUNDS AND EQUIPMENT USED TO DISPLACE COMMUNITIES IN THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK

J Street, March 16, 2020

J Street welcomes a groundbreaking congressional letter that calls on the Trump administration to strongly oppose the Israeli government’s demolition and displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and to determine whether materiel purchased from or funded by the United States is being used to carry out these demolitions. The letter is particularly important in light of the White House’s signals of support for Israeli government efforts to illegally annex large portions of occupied Palestinian territory.

The letter to Secretary of State Pompeo is signed by 64 members of Congress and was led by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Cohen (D-TN). Expressing concern over ongoing demolitions in the West Bank, it notes that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice,” and requests an examination of Israeli compliance with the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act.

We believe this letter sends an important message that the full amount of US security aid and equipment provided to and purchased by Israel should be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats it faces — and not to carry out disastrous policies that undermine US and Israeli interests, trample on Palestinian human rights and potentially violate US law.

Homes Demolished in South Hebron Hills


Hello friends,

On the morning of February 27 Israeli forces arrived in the small Palestinian village of Isfaiy and used a bulldozer to demolish a barn for sheep and goats. They then drove to the small cluster of houses that is the village of al Rakeez, South Hebron Hills, and demolished two homes, leaving three families homeless.

The villages are part of an area claimed by Israel as firing zone 918 and used for war games and training. Residents of the area have been fighting in court for years for the right to remain in their homes, meanwhile it is impossible for them to obtain building permits from Israel, and Israeli authorities frequently arrive in the area to deliver stop working and demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings, schools and mosques.

Israeli authorities have demolished more than 30 Palestinian structures during the month of February, including the unrecognized Bedouin village of al Araqib which has been demolished 174th times since 2010.

HAPPENING NOW: Israeli armed forces are demolishing a Palestinian house in Ar Rakeez village, south Hebron hills

Posted by Operation Dove on Thursday, February 27, 2020

 
Thank you so much for caring about the daily lives and struggles of the people who live here.

Israeli Military Confiscates School in Susiya


Video Link

Good Shepherd Collective, February 19, 2020

This morning, the Israeli military entered the village of Susiya with a bulldozer in order to confiscate a small, one-room building that served as the children’s school. As you watch the video, consider the perspective of the Palestinian GSC leader who took this video.

After waking up early in the morning to prepare for the possibility of demolitions today, Wednesday, one of the two busiest days of the week for the military and Civil Administration, you are called from your own humble home in the hills of South Hebron to head to Susiya, where the building that serves as an educational space for over twenty children is under immediate threat. When you arrive, you find an entire portion of the village–a village you know well, where you often relax and drink tea with your friends who are residents in the small, quiet space, and play with the little children–swarming with soldiers armed with semi-automatic weapons and gear that looks like they are prepared for a riot. Instead, they are met with distressed, angry, and frightened women, children, and men.

As you prepare to document the disproportionately dramatic removal of this simple space, you are conscious of the fact that only feet away are heavily armed soldiers, watching as you document and waiting for you to make the wrong move. They don’t like that you’re there. Although they have arrived, uninvited, armed with weaponry and the bureaucracy to take away an entire educational facility today, they are searching for violence in the faces and bodies of those from whom they are confiscating. With this in mind, you move slowly and speak in their language, keeping things as calm as possible.

This is the work our leaders on the ground are engaged in every week, sometimes throughout the entire day, starting before dawn. As they document and gather information about demolitions and confiscations, they must push aside their own worries that tomorrow, it could be their family’s school or community center that is taken away or destroyed. The structural oppression within the Israeli zoning and planning regime, and the total rejection of international law in practice, makes all Palestinians in Area C distinctly aware that we are all under near-constant threat of demolition, confiscation, destruction, and violence.

Israeli Occupation Forces Kill 3 and Destroy Home in Less than 24 Hours

February 6, 2020

The newest Israeli killing of Palestinians under its policy of excessive use of force, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 8 others in less than 24 hours in Jenin and Hebron, north and south of the West Bank. Of the Palestinians killed, 2, including a policeman, were shot and killed during an IOF raid into Jenin to demolish a prisoner’s house, for the second time. This falls under the Israeli policy of collective punishment employed against families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers. Meanwhile, the third Palestinian was killed by an Israeli sniper in a protest in Hebron.

According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 1:30 on Thursday, 06 February 2020, IOF, backed by 20 military and construction vehicles, moved into al-Basateen neighborhood north of Jenin. The soldiers were deployed among civilian houses and topped the roofs of some while 30 of them raided Palestinian prisoner, Ahmed Jamal Ahmed al-Qumbo’s, house (220 sqm, home to 8 persons, including 2 children) to execute a demolition order issued by an Israeli court 48 hours prior. Al-Qumbo’ has been arrested since 17 January 2018, and the house was built only 9 months ago following IOF’s earlier demolition. The soldiers did a thorough search of the house with a large number of police dogs; afterwards, the Israeli bulldozers proceeded to level the house to the ground. During the demolition, a number of Palestinian civilians gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF military vehicles present at the scene. Immediately, IOF responded with live and rubber bullets and toxic tear gas canisters; the situation quickly escalated. As a result of the Israeli shooting, 2 Palestinians were killed, one on the spot and the other succumbed to his wounds hours later, and 7 were wounded. The two killed were identified as 1. Yazan Monther Khaled Abu-Tabykh (19), a university student from Wad Bourqin area west of Jenin, was shot with a live bullet in the chest and killed immediately; and 2. Tariq Loay Ahmed Badwan (24), a Palestinian police officer from Qalqiliyah, was shot with a live bullet in the abdomen while inside the police station. He was transferred to the hospital where his condition was classified as critical and he was pronounced dead at 11:40 on Thursday.

It should be noted that IOF detonated prisoner al-Qumbo’s house for the first time on 24 April 2019, under the pretext of being charged with involvement in the killing of an Israeli settler, Arail Shefeh, from “Hefat Gilad” settlement, southwest of Nablus, on 09 January 2018.

At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 05 February 2020, an Israeli sniper stationed on a building’s roof near Israeli Military Checkpoint (56) established on al-Shuhada’a Street, fired 3 live bullets at Mohammed Salman Ta’mah al-Haddad (17) from a distance of 100 meters as Mohammed was near an old market, 50 meters away from the checkpoint’s entrance. As a result, Mohammed was shot and injured with a live bullet in the heart and fell on the ground. A number of young men managed to reach Mohammed and transferred him via an ambulance to Hebron Governmental Hospital. Few minutes later, doctors pronounced Mohammed’s death after being shot with a live bullet that penetrated his heart and caused severe bleeding. The shooting was reported during a protest organized by dozens of young men, who threw stones at IOF and burned tires near the abovementioned checkpoint.

These crimes are part of IOF’s grave escalation in the oPt since the U.S President Trump declared his Middle-East Peace Plan known as “the Deal of the Century” on 28 January 2020. IOF suppressed more than 60 protests against Trump’s plan at seam points confrontation in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. As a result, dozens of civilians were shot and injured with live and rubber bullets in addition to many others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.

PCHR strongly condemns the IOF’s crimes, which prove the ongoing Israeli use of excessive force against Palestinian civilian, who did not pose danger or threat to the soldiers’ lives.

PCHR condemns the crime of demolishing Qombo’s house for the 2nd time as part of IOF’s collective punishment policy against the Palestinian civilians.

PCHR reminds that this policy is internationally prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Therefore, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the Israeli crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.

Now – Nov 17: Gaza in Color: Stories from Behind the Wall Online Art Auction

Original artwork and signed prints that were hand-carried out of Gaza. This auction offers over 100 pieces by seven artists who are struggling to share their vision and their stories with the outside world.

Despite the ongoing eleven year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and the violence and human rights tragedies that surround them, artists in Gaza are using creativity to translate their hope and a stark reality into art.

The Gaza artists directly benefit from the sale of their work, which include originals and signed, limited edition prints. Funds will also support the work of Rebuilding Alliance. We hand-carried many of these pieces out of Gaza, and we’re so proud to be working with the artists to bring this to you!

View and bid at this Rebuilding Alliance site.

Since registering as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003, Rebuilding Alliance has been working with coalitions around the world who are dedicated to helping war-torn neighborhoods rebuild and promoting citizen and diplomatic engagement, worldwide, to make them safe.

Israeli house demolitions are the true crime — not BDS


Celebration of house demolition, by Israeli border police and IDF officer, July 22, 2019. Screenshot from video.

Mohamed Mohamed, Mondoweiss, July 26, 2019

Israel is at it again. It remains consistent in engaging in one of its favorite activities: stealing Palestinian land and tormenting Palestinians.

On Monday, Israeli bulldozers, escorted by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, demolished no less than 16 residential buildings containing around 100 apartments in the village of Sur Baher, which is on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.

Israel’s reasoning for demolishing these homes is that they are too close to its “separation wall” (or more accurately, the Israeli apartheid wall), and it claims that the homes pose a security risk. This is not surprising, because Israel’s “security” is commonly cited as an excuse to steal Palestinian land and resources, and to impose full control over every aspect of the lives of Palestinians.

Correspondents reporting from the demolition area described seeing homeowners watch with horror as their homes turned into dust.

Let that sink in. Imagine your own home being destroyed in front of your eyes while you are powerless to do anything to stop its demolition by armed soldiers. Living under military occupation, there is no insurance to reimburse you or to rebuild your house on the land that rightfully belongs to you.

Even the American concept of “eminent domain,” where your property could be taken by the government for public use, although with “just” compensation, does not apply. In the US, no one would ever accept such a despicable injustice and outright theft.

But this is the reality that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem (and throughout Palestine) face. One man who has four children said that when their house is demolished, they will become homeless and forced to live in the streets.

To see how Israeli demolition of homes and theft of Palestinian land is done out of spite, cruelty, and cold-heartedness, rather than “security,” one only has to watch this video.

In the video, Israeli forces in charge of imploding a Palestinian building are seen counting down to the detonation of explosives. A masked soldier initiates the demolition and the explosive charges go off, reducing the building to a large pile of rubble and dust within a matter of seconds.

The Israelis laugh, cheer, and whistle in the aftermath of their barbarism. One of the soldiers hugs the man who set off the explosives, shakes his hand, and poses with him for the camera with a huge grin on his face. There is absolutely no doubt that they enjoyed the destruction of the homes and property of innocent Palestinians. People who are genuinely concerned about their security would not celebrate another human being’s devastation in such a sickening way.

This destruction and theft of Palestinian property and land is an indisputable violation of international law. Israel has no right to occupy even one square centimeter of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (or the Syrian Golan Heights, for that matter), which are territories that it seized with aggressive force in 1967.

This fact is why the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement exists. BDS is a peaceful, nonviolent campaign that aims to pressure and hold Israel accountable for its occupation and oppression of Palestinians. It is very similar to the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) that targeted the South African apartheid system. Eventually, the boycott movement aimed at South Africa helped lead to “The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act” that was approved by the US Congress in 1986. This law imposed strong economic sanctions against South Africa and helped lead to the dismantling of the apartheid system.

But on Tuesday night, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (398-17) in favor of a bill (House Resolution 246) that opposes “efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement [BDS] targeting Israel.” What is worse is that the right to boycott is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, yet American politicians are conveniently ignoring this fact.

The objective of BDS is to put pressure on Israel so that it thinks twice before engaging in merciless human rights violations against Palestinians that are blatant breaches of international law. BDS may be trying to “delegitimize the State of Israel,” but that is because Israel is in fact engaging in highly illegitimate activities. How else can one describe Israeli demolition of homes, theft of property and resources, imprisonment of adults and even children without charges, restricting freedom of movement, discrimination, total siege of Palestinians, and many other fascist policies?

Today, Democrats and Republican clash with each other perhaps more than ever before, whether on immigration, healthcare, climate change, and so many other issues. Yet when it comes to Israel, both parties are amazingly united. If only they could work in such a bipartisan fashion to solve many of the problems in our own country, rather than to protect a foreign state oppressing millions of indigenous people.

Despite changing attitudes among Americans (including Jewish Americans) that are more sympathetic toward justice and freedom for Palestinians, US politicians unfortunately lag behind. For example, Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley campaigned as a firm progressive and shares many of the views of her fellow progressive lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, the four of whom have been recently labeled as “the squad.” Yet, Rep. Pressley voted in favor of the resolution condemning BDS.

Perhaps Rep. Pressley voted against BDS in order to protect her own interests, since she is a politician who seeks campaign funds and reelection. Regardless, it is highly discouraging that a politician who claims to be so progressive votes this way, and it is a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.

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Stop Palestinian Home Demolitions!

The morning of Monday, July 22, 2019, Palestinian families in the village of Sur Baher woke up to the sound of bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli troops that had been ordered to oversee the destruction of their homes. Israeli demolition crews are now in the process of destroying 16 Palestinian apartment buildings, totaling 100 home units in East Jerusalem, under the justification that the homes were too close to the Separation wall. Israel says the homes are a “security” risk. 

The demolitions are part of an ongoing policy where Israel is bent on controlling the demographics of East Jerusalem in order to maintain a Jewish majority. When Israel built its Separation wall, they built it to place the Palestinian Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Baher inside Israel, even though legally it’s part of the West Bank. Israel denied the community building permits and then when the Palestinian Authority gave permits to the families, Israel declared they had the right to demolish the homes — most of the homes were built by hand, stone by stone. 

The displacement of people (via home demolitions) is a war crime and 2020 candidates should speak out against it.

Send a message to the 2020 candidates: speak out against Israel’s demolishing of Sur Baher. 

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