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STEALING ARAB LAND:
Israeli Settlers Threaten Sheikh Jarrah
Friday, 5 November 2010
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published an October report titled, "The Case of Sheikh Jarrah," explaining the growing Israeli threat, saying it's "of serious humanitarian concern."
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, including Fourth Geneva's Article 49 stating:
In addition, various UN resolutions (including 446, 452 and 465) condemned Israel's settlement building, declaring they have "no legal validity" to exist. However, they do and regularly expand, endangering all Palestinian communities, Sheikh Jarrah one of many and their longstanding residents.
A predominantly East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood, it's home to about 2,800 Palestinians as well as diplomatic missions and well-known landmarks. However, because of its strategic location, settlers want it, and have encroached for years. So far, over 60 Palestinian families have been dispossessed. Another 500 are at risk.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published an October report titled, "The Case of Sheikh Jarrah ," explaining the growing threat, saying it's "of serious humanitarian concern." Settlers have used different methods to encroach, including:
What began incrementally has now intensified through forced evictions, at times involving home demolitions and state-sponsored violence. Sheikh Jarrah areas below have been especially affected.
The fate of Sheikh Jarrah's Hanoun and Al Ghawi families are typical. In August 2009, Israeli police forcibly evicted them. Fifty-three Palestinians, including 20 children were dispossessed, their homes seized, their property loaded on trucks, then dumped on a street near UNWRA's headquarters. Besides losing everything, they now face high legal bills, fines and other charges, including for their own evictions, a shocking contempt for law and justice. Many others have been similarly affected.
In 2009, at least 380 Palestinians, including over 90 children, were forcibly displaced in East Jerusalem. Another 190, including over 85 children, were also affected. Moreover, other residents face at least 1,500 demolition orders, their lives to be harmed like the Hanoun and Al Ghawi families. As a result, Palestinian neighborhoods are being incrementally destroyed, their residents discarded like yesterday's garbage.
The humanitarian concerns are overwhelming, dispossession having immediate and longer-term physical, social, economic, and emotional consequences on families, neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, depriving people of their main asset and displacing them disrupts their livelihoods, reduces their standard of living, increases their risk for poverty, and limits their access to basic services like water, education and health care.
Forced evictions combined with expanded settlements also restrict free movement, and increase settler intimidation and harassment, at times causing injuries or deaths. After similar developments in Hebron's H2 area, over 1,000 Palestinians lost homes and over 1,800 commercial businesses had to close.
Under recognized international law, these are grievous violations. Yet Israel lets Jews claim land and property illegally, by alleging they owned it before 1948. Palestinians, however, have no equivalent right to land and property in Israel, legally theirs before being forcibly expelled during Israel's War of Independence.
With no enforcement authority, OCHA urges an immediate end to evictions, home demolitions, and dispossessions, as well as returning families to land and property they own, citing international humanitarian law.
Israel, of course, ignores international law, its own as well when it comes to Arabs, remaining defiant because no one intervenes. As a result, Palestinians remain victimized, yet struggle heroically for their rights and dignity, refusing ever to stop until justice they rightfully deserve is achieved.
A Final Comment
On October 21, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement obtained documents on Gaza's closure and isolation policy, 18 months after their existence was denied. In early 2009, Gisha filed a Freedom of Information Act petition "demand(ing) transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy." Israel still withholds information on its amended guidelines, established after the Flotilla massacre.
It's now known, however, that Israel imposed "a policy of deliberate reduction" of essential goods to Gaza, including food, medical supplies, fuel for electricity, and much more. In addition, guidelines dictated a "lower warning line" to notify about expected shortages in advance. At the same time, however, it was ignored.
Moreover, an "upper red line" was set above which humanitarian goods could be blocked as part of state policy to suffocate 1.5 Gazans. In early 2006, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert advisor Dov Weisglass explained saying, "The idea is to put (Gazans) on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger." In other words, make them suffer enough to reject Hamas or force its officials to accede to Israeli demands, giving up hope for equity and justice.
After the May Flotilla massacre, Israel eased closure modestly, but hardly enough to matter. According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi:
Israel is a lawless rogue state, its Gaza closure policy Exhibit A.
Listen to Lendman's 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.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on November 5, 2010.
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