Israel approves new settlement, orders Hebron market bulldozed
Kaamil Ahmed, Middle East Eye, Dec 1 2019

Israel has approved a new settlement on the site of a Palestinian market in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, prompting anger from Palestinians who blame a recent shift in Pindo policy. Defence Minister Naftali Bennett gave the go-ahead on Sunday for the new settlement, which would involve bulldozing the old wholesale market and could reportedly double the settler population. It follows a decision made by Pindostan in November to no longer consider Israeli settlements in the OPT illegal under international law. Saeb Erakat, Sec-Gen of the PLO, said:

Israel’s decision to build a new illegal settlement in occupied Hebron is the first tangible result of the Pindo decision to legitimise colonisation. This cannot be taken out of the context.

The Palestinian market set to be affected has been closed since 1994. Around 800 Israeli settlers live near Hebron’s Old City, in close proximity to its Palestinian residents, and are accompanied by a heavy IOF presence which Palestinians say imposes an apartheid-like system. Peace Now said in a statement:

The settlement in Hebron is the ugliest face of Israel’s control in the OPT. In order to maintain the presence of 800 settlers among a quarter of a million Palestinians, entire streets in Hebron are closed to Palestinians, denying them freedom of movement and impinging on their livelihoods.

The Hebron settler community thanked Bennett for the decision and claimed the market’s land had been owned by Jews since 1807, but Peace Now said the land legally belongs to the Hebron municipality and its residents had a protected tenancy that prevented them from being evicted without legal grounds, though this had been disregarded by Israeli courts, paving the way for the new settlement. Ayman Odeh, Head of the Joint List, a parliamentary coalition of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said the decision was part of a “war against peace.”

Bennett Promotes New Settlement in Hebron’s Wholesale Market
Peace Now, Dec 1 2019

Defense Minister Bennett sent an order today to COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) to start the planning process of a new settlement at the Wholesale Market in the Old City of Hebron. Although in Nov 2018, then-Defense Minister Liberman announced his intention to promote the planning, until today no practical step took place to advance the construction of the settlement. In Bennett’s letter, COGAT is ordered to “advance the planning procedures in the Wholesale Market in Hebron, in way of knocking down the existing structures and building new ones, in accordance to the law” and to “send a letter from the Civil Administration to the Hebron Municipality.” These are very bad news for Israel: bad morally, bad for security, and bad in terms of the political chances for peace. The settlement in Hebron is the ugliest face of Israel’s control in the OPT. In order to maintain the presence of 800 settlers among a quarter of a million Palestinians, entire streets in Hebron are closed to Palestinians, denying them freedom of movement and impinging on their livelihoods. Here are seven reasons why a new settlement in Hebron should not be promoted:

  1. It is ethically inadmissible to settle beyond the sovereign borders of one’s state, in an area where one’s own military exercises effective control over a local population and prevents it from acquiring full rights. Moreover, it is the very settlements themselves that stand in the way of a political agreement that would end this military control (i.e. the Occupation) and grant Palestinians freedom from foreign rule (or, theoretically, equal rights within Israel). The common settler refrain is that they are merely “coming back to live in their ancient homeland,” yet this explanation entirely ignores the context of how their living in the West Bank perpetuates Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians at the cost of the latter’s freedom.
  2. It imposes a security burden. Establishing a new settlement in the heart of a Palestinian city, where 800 settlers live among a population of 200,000 Palestinians, will necessarily demand that the IDF invest more forces to guard them.
  3. It’s not just “another hill.” A settlement in the heart of a dense Palestinian urban area is unlike any settlement. In order to protect the settlers in the Palestinian-populated area, the IDF imposes extreme measures on the population, including by closing shops and businesses, closing streets for vehicular traffic, and in some streets forbidding Palestinians from walking on them entirely. In this sense, the settlement in Hebron is the ugly face of Israeli control over the OPT. It is both immoral and a public relations disaster for Israel.
  4. The Wholesale Market is a symbol. The wholesale market complex was the vibrant heart of the Old City of Hebron. It was tragically closed by the IDF’s order in 1994 following the Baruch Goldstein Massacre of Muslim worshipers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. In the 1997 Hebron Protocol, Israel declared itself committed to re-open the wholesale market in Hebron as part of the “Normalization of Life in the Old City.” However this commitment was never implemented and the shops are still closed to this day.
  5. Legally, the land belongs to the Hebron municipality, in protected tenancy. The protected tenants cannot be “thrown out” without justifiable grounds and judicial decision. The political will of the Israeli government to establish a settlement cannot be grounds for this, and it means adopting the apartheid-like system whereby the Israeli population is superior to the Palestinian population (see explanation below).
  6. The allocation of land to the settlement will constitute acceptance of the principle of Right of Return. The basis of the settlers’ demand for the establishment of a settlement in the wholesale market is that the land was owned by Jews before 1948. Israel has hundreds of thousands of dunams and properties owned by Palestinians before 1948. If the Israeli government accepts the claim of the landowners to right to return to their land taken in 1948, it will undermine the Israeli claim that the Palestinians’ right of return inside Israel need not be implemented.
  7. Apart from the moral, security, legal and breach of Israeli commitments, the expansion of the settlement in Hebron precludes us Israelis from the prospect of a two-state agreement. In so doing, we are weakening our own ability to preserve Israel’s democratic character by making our military rule over a non-enfranchised Palestinian population permanent.

Israel has killed nearly 3 Palestinians per week this year
Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, Nov 29 2019

The funeral of Raed Rafiq Ahmad al-Sirsawi on Nov 29. Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

On Friday Nov 29, 16-year-old Fahd al-Astal died after he was shot in the stomach by IOF during protests along the Gaza-Israel boundary. The same day, Raed Rafiq Ahmad al-Sirsawi, 30, died of injuries sustained during Israel’s escalation of violence against Gaza on Nov 13. Their deaths bring to 132 the total number of Palestinians who have died by IOF fire so far this year. That breaks down to an average of nearly three killed per week. Meanwhile, a total of 10 Israelis died as a result of Palestinian violence during the same period. Thirteen times more Palestinians than Israelis have died from occupation-related violence so far this year. But this figure doesn’t include the Palestinians who died in Israel’s prisons, including Sami Abu Diyak, who succumbed to cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday Nov 26 amid accusations of years of medical neglect. Abu Diyak is the fifth Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Israeli movement restrictions also contribute to Palestinian deaths not reflected in conflict fatality counts. Those cases include Palestinians who died awaiting permission to travel for medical treatment not available in the besieged Gaza Strip. The WHO reports that in October, Israel approved only 58% of the more than 1,750 applications submitted by Palestinians in Gaza seeking medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank. The WHO said that the rate of permits approved by Israel for Palestinians injured during protests along the Gaza-Israel boundary is much lower than the overall approval rate. Since Gaza’s Great March of Return began on Mar 30 2018, only 18% of applications for medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank were approved for those injured during the protests. A patient profiled by the WHO illustrates Israel’s cruel treatment of Palestinians in Gaza seeking specialized medical care. Identified by the world health body as Sherehan, a 33-year-old mother of four, the patient was referred by doctors in Gaza to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah for advanced care after they found a tumor growing in her abdomen. According to the WHO:

For Sherehan, this meant applying for an Israeli-issued permit to exit Gaza. Since her initial referral, she has now applied 12 times to exit Gaza for healthcare, and every time she has been unsuccessful.

She was denied a permit eight times, while on three occasions, her application remained “under study” at the date of her appointment, and once she was told that the treatment she requires was available in Gaza. Sherehan told the WHO:

I’ve been suffering a year with sickness, but over the last three months I felt so down and depressed. The tumor is getting bigger and my symptoms are getting worse. I have no options, just painkillers.

While denying Palestinians like Sherehan access to necessary medical treatment, the IOF boasts about its soldiers donating their hair to cancer patients:

COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of the IOF that deals with travel application permits submitted by patients like Sherehan, complained about the WHO’s report:

According to COGAT, only 51% of all medical patient applications were approved in October. That’s lower than the 58% figure given by the WHO. Credit where credit’s due. At least COGAT wishes for it to be known as crueler than the WHO’s reporting suggests.

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