Saturday, July 31, 2010

Occupied Palestine: Home Demolitions, Dispossessions and Residency Rights Revoked

Occupied Palestine: Home Demolitions, Dispossessions and Residency Rights Revoked - by Stephen Lendman

Daily, Israeli oppression continues - demolishing homes, dispossessing occupants, and revoking residency rights, three of its many crimes under international law, Israel spurning it with impunity.

On July 22, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) reported mass Jordan Valley Al Farisyie village demolitions, displacing 107 people, including 52 children. Targeted were 26 residential tents, 22 animal shelters, seven taboun clay ovens, eight kitchens, 10 bathrooms, four water tanks, and an agricultural equipment shed - in all, 74 structures illegally bulldozed, family homes and belongings destroyed along with large quantities of food and animal fodder.

Many families weren't warned or present, so lost everything under rubble, Israel displacing Palestinians to make way for Judaization, area residents on their own, abandoned and unaided.

In July, three other communities were affected:

-- Fasayile al Fuga where a family home of nine, including seven children and a 10-month old infant, was destroyed;

-- Bardala where evacuation and demolition orders were issued; and

-- Ras Ar Ahmar where 13 homes and dozens of animal shelters were bulldozed after declaring the area a Closed Military Zone.

The Jordan Valley comprises about 30% of the West Bank, Israel continuing demolitions, dispossessions, land theft, and appropriation of water resources, annexing areas for Jews, collectively punishing its residents by declaring large areas Closed Military Zones, ordering entire villages evacuated in defiance of international law, hundreds of residents affected, half of them children.

On July 7, Haaretz writer Mijal Grinberg headlined "More than 800 protest Bedouin house demolitions in front of the Knesset," saying they erected a tent city after arriving in 17 buses to petition the government to "stop destroying homes."

Arab MKs and Hadash Party member Dov Hanin joined them, demanding this stop and accommodation with Bedouins reached, Israeli citizens denied their rights.

They rightfully claim ownership to 800,000 dunams of land, about 200,000 acres - around 6% of southern Israel's Negev desert. Israel, however, doesn't recognize them, saying about 75,000 Bedouins live in unrecognized villages, their public funding and services denied. More on that below.

Still, in recent years, 11 unrecognized villages were legalized. But another 36 are in limbo, their homes subject to demolition and land confiscated. In 2007, the government destroyed 110 homes. A-Sira is slated for demolition, its residents petitioning Israel's High Court to prevent it. Some lost their homes earlier. Others hope to save theirs. All Palestinians fear they're next - dispossession for Judaization, ongoing throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Bedouin areas.

On July 27, Ma'an News reported that all Al-Araqib homes, fruit orchards and olive trees were destroyed, another unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel. At 4:30AM, 1,500 police arrived, including special riot forces, mounted officers, helicopters and bulldozers, awakening residents to evict them after an 11-year trial and court battle, residents winning to no avail. Israel dispossessed them anyway.

About 300 people were affected, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld saying all "were told ahead of time they had to leave," a planned forest to replace them, their homes from before Israel's creation lost, their rights denied, Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanoua saying:

"The occupation has continued the destruction of Palestinian villages in the Negev for more than 40 years," a policy similar to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, "clear(ing) out Palestinian villages and towns" to Judaize them.

Many Gazans have Negev and other area roots, lost when Israel was declared a state. Al-Araqib village peace activists called the demolitions an "act of war, such as is undertaken against an enemy," saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Bedouins a threat, "giv(ing) legitimacy to the(ir) expulsion....to Judaize it."

"Unrecognized" Palestinians - Israeli Citizens Without Rights

This writer's earlier article discussed them, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2007/09/unrecognized-palestinians_12.html

Around 150,000 are affected, living mainly in the Negev in the south and Galilee in the north, nonpersons, according to Israel. Considered internal refugees, they're unrecognized because they fled during Israel's "War of Independence," then couldn't return when it ended.

Today, their villages are denied essential services, including clean drinking water, electricity, roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare, postal and telephone service, refuse removal and more because under Israel's Planning and Construction Law they're illegal.

As a result:

-- only residents with wells have clean drinking water;

-- the few health services available are inadequate;

-- many homes have no bathrooms, their residents prohibited from building them;

-- only villages with generators have enough electricity for lighting, nothing else;

-- villages aren't connected to the main road network;

-- some are fenced in, denying residents access to their traditional lands;

-- in the north, one school only accommodates children able to attend; and

-- when demolitions are ordered, residents at times must do it or be fined and face a year in prison; some others must pay when Israeli bulldozers are used.

With no constitution, Israel is governed by its Basic Laws, the Human Dignity and Freedom one authorizing the Knesset to overturn laws contrary to the right to dignity, life, freedom, privacy, property, and freedom to leave and enter the country. It states:

"There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person. All persons are entitled to protection (of these rights, and) There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise."

Yet no Basic Law guarantees equality, afforded only Jews, not Arabs, including Israeli citizens.

East Jerusalemites' Residency Status Revoked

In late April, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) reported that in 2008, Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the residency status of 4,672 Jerusalemites, another 229 losing theirs in 2009, and since the early 1990s, about 30,000 legal residents were affected, expelled from their homes, banished from their city.

Further, another 165,000 Jerusalemites are at risk since they live east of the Separation Wall, separating them from the West Bank. JCSER also said municipality authorities "admitted for the first time that Israel got rid of 55,000 Jerusalemites in the last years due to the separation wall and that they lost their right to reside in the city."

The statistics "only include those living in the East of Jerusalem's Sho'fat refugee camp, Ras Khmis, Ras Shihadeh and al-Salam neighborhoods." However, another 70,000 in al-Bareed, Kafr Aqab and Samiramees face the same threat, Israel ethnically cleansing the city to Judaize it, remove the Arab presence, destroy their historic landmarks, and claim the entire city as Israel's capital, denying Palestinians that right for a future state.

In late July, JCSER reported that from January 2009 - June 6, 2010, Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the residency rights of 721 Palestinians, including 108 from January - June 6, 2010. It also said from June 1967 - mid-June 2010, 86,226 (14,371 families) were affected, many more expected under a ruthlessly oppressive policy.

In addition, thousands of family reunification requests are rejected out of hand as well as thousands more applications to register newborns in the city, Israeli-provided numbers as follows:

-- from January 2009 - July 6, 2010, reinstated residency rights of only 95 Palestinians were approved; and

-- from January 2009 - July 15, 2010, only 280 family reunification requests were allowed, many others pending, few at most to be permitted.

According to JCSER head, Ziad Al Hammoury, the reality on the ground is much worse than Israel reports - hundreds of East Jerusalemites losing their residency rights, hundreds more families prohibited from reunifying, their children not recognized as Jerusalemites, and hundreds of others studying or working abroad lost their ID cards at border crossings.

Israel's policy especially escalated after Palestinian Jerusalem legislators lost their status, all others in the city now at risk, despite being designated "permanent residents" in 1967.

However, in 1974, the law changed to let the Interior Minister strip residency rights from Palestinians with foreign citizenship or believed to be "a threat to national security," a provision potentially affecting anyone for any reason or none at all. Then in 1988, another amendment let the Interior Minister deny residency to Palestinians who lived in Gaza or the West Bank for seven years, and since 2003, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibits family unifications without Interior Ministry permission, very seldom granted.

Combined, these policies ruthlessly deny Palestinians their legal rights in their own land, incrementally being stolen to Judaize it.

A Final Comment

On July 28, Haaretz writer Amira Hass headlined "The Palestinian Authority is imprisoning Gazans," saying:

In the West Bank, the Mahmoud Abbas coup d'etat government that calls for an "end (to) the blockade on Gaza, in practice aids in imprisoning the Gazans by preventing them from holding valid Palestinian passports" - acting as Israel's enforcer.

"Not only does (Fatah) refuse to (provide) passports, (but) its general intelligence service even intervenes" to veto applications. Abbas security forces also "continue to arrest (and imprison for extended periods with no charges or trial) people identified with Hamas," Palestine's legitimate government, one Israel doesn't recognize, Fatah endorsed to control the West Bank, with generous funding to do it.

"These are the same security authorities that have won praise from the occupier for the quiet they've achieved," giving Israel more latitude to demolish homes, dispossess residents, expel them, arrest children, prevent free expression and movement, and kill anyone called a threat.

Fatah's collaboration compounds their suffering for their corrupt self-interest, profiting handsomely as a result.

A final note. On July 29, Countercurrents.org published Providence Knolls and Tania Kepler's article titled, "Villagers Rebuild Razed Bedouin Village," accessed through the following link:

http://www.countercurrents.org/kepler290710.htm

They reported villagers, Palestinians, Israeli and international volunteers rebuilt Al-Araqib one day after Israel bulldozed it, and residents plan to build "more than what was destroyed, in an attempt to prevent future demolitions." Asking international help to survive, village spokesperson, Dr. Awad Abu Freih, said "We want our voice to be heard around the world." Is Israel listening?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.