FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2018

House Democrats Condemn Trump Administration’s Actions Harming the Palestinian People

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) today released the following statement condemning the Trump Administration’s recent actions harming the Palestinian people.

“We are alarmed by the Trump Administration’s blatant attempts at exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. The punitive measures employed by President Trump are intended to use the Palestinian people as pawns on the negotiating table for his administration’s failed attempts to bring stability to the region.

“In the last month, the Administration has slashed $25 million of US assistance to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, rescinded $200 million in Congressionally allocated humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, and halted all U.S. funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). By cutting these important aid programs, the Trump Administration will only exacerbate tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, while further diminishing opportunities for lasting peace.

“Further, the Trump Administration has failed to push back on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demolitions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank, like Khan Al Ahmar. We must remind our ally, Israel, that approving the destruction and upheaval of Palestinian communities slowly deteriorates the prospects for a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.

“Finally, as we recognize the 25th anniversary of the Olso Peace Process, the Trump Administration’s decision to shut down the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) offices in Washington, DC, is just another signal to Israelis, Palestinians, and the American people that they are not serious about engaging in the difficult diplomatic work it takes to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The administration’s refusal to endorse a two-state solution, provocative relocation of the U.S. Embassy and attempts to undo Palestinian refugee status severely undermines the United States’ ability to play a constructive role in addressing the conflict. We urge the Trump Administration to put the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people above politics.”

May 2, 2018
Memorializing 70 Years of Occupation

UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine

Rescheduled from April 27. Stop by to see UW SJP’s display memorializing 70 years of occupation and devastation that stills continues today in Palestine. We will be handing out literature and you can find out how you can get involved in the cause. Hope to see you all there!

Islam Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Islam Maraqa on Access

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 

Demolishing Palestinian schools ‘a quiet population transfer’

Orly Noy, +972, January 24, 2018

By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice — between their land and their children’s futures.

Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

When the children of Beit Ta’mar, a village south-east of Bethlehem, left their improvised schoolhouse for winter vacation about two weeks ago, they did not know if the building would still be standing when they came back.

To call the building a school is to exaggerate. It is comprised of five concrete rooms on the top of a hill, constructed by the village’s residents, who also built the road to the school.

“Last August, we asked the army for permission to build a school for the children in the village,” Hassan Brigiah says on our way to the site. “We didn’t receive an answer, and after we talked with a lawyer, we decided to set up six caravans to serve as classrooms. The army came and dismantled the caravans. While they were doing this I said to them, ‘but you didn’t give us an answer at all!’ It didn’t help. We decided to build a few classrooms out of concrete, and in the meantime, a lawyer managed to get an order to prevent them from being demolished until the government gives us an answer.”

The army has since provided an answer—negative, as expected. The reasons, as always, are technical and bureaucratic. Ever since, the threat of demolition has hung over the improvised first through third-grade classrooms. The Palestinian Authority provided tables and chairs, which is noted on a plaque. “We’ll build the homeland with the power of knowledge,” is spray painted on one of the walls.

The school is located in Area C, but close to Area B, in the West Bank, under Palestinian civil control, and entirely on privately owned land, Birgiah says, adding that the construction was financed by the villagers themselves.

“We are very close to Tekoa and Noqdim, where [Defense Minister] Liberman lives,” Birgiah adds. “They have a lot of influence on the government. Nearly every day, the settlers stand on the hill overlooking the school and survey our children with binoculars. The army is also here all the time, walking around, taking pictures, and leaving. They want to show us that they’re here, so that we’ll continue to live in fear.”

In general, the sense is that schools and educational institutions have become a hot target for the army across the West Bank.

About a month ago, the army issued a demolition order against the fourth-grade classroom in a school in the community of A-Nawer, near the settlement of Maale Adumim. On October 7, 2017, the army confiscated the doors of the two schoolhouses there. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, last summer Israeli troops declared the school a closed military zone and confiscated the solar panels that powered the school.

A day before the first day of the school year in the West Bank this past year, soldiers demolished a school in the village of Job a-Dib , leaving 80 students with nowhere to learn. The school was comprised of six caravans, which the army dismantled and confiscated. As Eli Bitan reported, during the demolition the army used stun grenades against residents.

A day earlier, some 50 soldiers and police demolished a caravan that was intended as a kindergarten in of Du al-Baba, near Al-Azriah. The community’s 25 children between the ages of four and six have no other educational framework. The army also confiscated 10 tables, 30 chairs, two closets, and a blackboard, together worth tens of thousands of shekels. Around two weeks before that, the army confiscated solar panels that powered the school and kindergarten in Abu A-Nawar, which were donated by a humanitarian organization.

On December 22, the Israeli High Court rejected a petition from the residents of Al Muntar, a Bedouin community near the settlement of Maale Adumim, against the army’s plan to demolish a kindergarten and school in the community. As of February 1, the buildings can be turned to dust at any moment — buildings meant to provide an alternative to the long and dangerous walk students must make to schools in neighboring cities.

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Israel no longer bothers with the illusion of legal proceedings

Israel is so confident of its ability to expel Palestinian communities that it no longer even bothers to create the illusion of legal proceedings

B’Tselem, November 22, 2017

Over the past month, the state has informed three Palestinian communities that it intends to expel them from their homes and land. The notification was made by leaving orders on the roadside.

In the northern Jordan Valley, on 9 November 2017 the state notified two communities – Umm a-Jamal and Ein al-Hilweh – that they must leave their homes within eight days. These communities total 20 families, five of whom live in the area on a seasonal basis. The total number of residents is 130, including 66 youths and children under the age of 18.

In the Ma’ale Adumim area, on 16 November 2017 the state informed the residents of Jabal al-Baba that they must leave their homes within eight days. This community numbers about 60 families, and has a total of 284 residents, including 151 youths and children under the age of 18.

Israel has acted for years to expel communities around the West Bank. In the past, its efforts were based mainly on military orders concerning planning and building. However, the proceedings concerning such orders are protracted and require the precise mapping of the land and buildings, as well as the issuing of separate demolition orders for each building.

Now the state has found a new mechanism it hopes will enable it to circumvent such proceedings and accelerate the expulsion of residents: the “Order concerning Unauthorized Buildings (Temporary Provision) (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1539), 5744-2003.” This order was originally intended for the expulsion of settlers from “outposts” established around the West Bank, although the state very rarely used it for this purpose. The order allows the Military Commander to declare an area in the West Bank a “confined area,” and to order the eviction of all property in that area. On this basis of this order, GOC Central Command Major-General Roni Numa signed the new orders concerning the Palestinian communities.

It seems that Israel is so confident in its ability to expel entire villages without incurring judicial or international criticism that it is no longer bothering to create even the illusion of legal proceedings. However, the difference between the proceedings is purely technical. The planning and building proceedings never stopped the state; even if they managed to postpone expulsion, they never removed the threat of expulsion from thousands of people. Over many years, thousands of Palestinians in dozens of communities have lived under a constant and real threat. The state has refused to regulate their status, allow them to connect to the water and electricity infrastructure, establish educational institutions for their children, pave roads to their living areas, and maintain a reasonable living routine.

The state has recently declared its intention to expel two additional communities over the coming months – Susiya in the southern Hebron Hills and Khan al-Ahmar close to Ma’ale Adumim. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that in the absence of opposition from the American Administration, these communities will be expelled by April 2018. The expulsion proceedings against these communities have continued for years before the Supreme Court, which has refrained from prohibiting their expulsion.

Whatever the proceedings used by the state in its attempt to expel Palestinian residents from their homes, the crime is the same: the forcible transfer of a protected population, which amounts to a war crime. This is the case whether the violence used is direct or indirect, physical or administrative. Whether the expulsion is undertaken by force or by creating an intolerable reality that forces the residents to leave their homes and land – the essence is the same. All those involved in committing this crime – including the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, the justices who approve the expulsion, and the GOC who signs the orders – bear personal liability.

For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126, amit@btselem.org
Our mailing address is
B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002