IDF uses inhabited Palestinian villages as a military playground

on 11 Comments
Israeli soldiers raiding Jinba on August 7, 2012. (Photo: B’tselem/Haaretz)

On the heels of demolition orders to clear eight Palestinian villages for a military training field in the Hebron Hills, masked Israeli soldiers descended from helicopters and raided one of the still inhabited towns. Amira Hass reported in Haaretz on August 7, 2012:

Two Israel Air Force helicopters landed soldiers on Tuesday in Jinba, an isolated village inhabited by cave dwellings in the southern West Bank. It is one of eight villages slated for demolition according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s plan to allow the military to resume its training in the area, known as Firing Zone 918.

According to reports by the residents, the helicopters landed and took off at the site six times, each time carrying soldiers. The soldiers erected a command center in a tent outside the village, and two jeeps and a Hummer parked next to the tent.

The soldiers, who were masked and armed, raided the village, photographed and mapped the cave dwellings, the tents and the structures, and made extensive searches while causing property damage, the residents said. The soldiers also emptied out the contents of closets and poured out jugs of milk and cream.

Today’s raid follows two last week in Tuba and Magher al-Abeed. A similar exercise also took place earlier this summer in June in al-Aqaba when the Israeli military took over part of the center of the village to resume the banned practice of live-fire training in the village.

The battle between the military and the villagers dates back to 1999 after the Oslo Accords delineated tracts of the West Bank to Israeli control. The state embarked on proceedings to takeover all eight villages, but 200 Palestinian families fought back in the courts, and with help from Israeli attorney Shlomo Lecker and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, in 2000 the Palestinians won an injunction against evictions. Undeterred by the court, Hass notes that after the ruling the government issued demolitions on new construction of dire need to the villagers, such as communal restrooms. But despite this continued harassment the eviction stays were essentially honored until Ehud Barak announced on August 5th that the military would open a practice field on the villages. Barak’s team presented new evidence using statements from three Palestinians, attesting the villagers were “seasonal” residents to their property, not “permanent,” thus nullifying their right to remain. The civil administration’s use of affidavits by Palestinians, against other Palestinians, has recently come under criticism after a number of sworn statements used to benefit settlers were proven false.

With the court ruling trampled, the new orders called to raze the homes of 1,500 Palestinians residing in Fakheit, Halaweh, Jinba, Kharuba, Majaz, Mirkez Sfai, and Tabban. Access to agricultural lands will also be restricted in Megheir al-Abeid, Mufaqara.

Hass writes, “the villages have existed since at least the 1830s.” And even though the Palestinians own the land in question, have top-notch legal support, and a court ruling in their favor, theie plight of the is no match for the might of the Israeli military backed by government bulldozers.

As in all cases of demolition the villages can always file an appeal, or try to get another stays, but even those weak protections are being eroded. This week the Israeli government announced court petitions now require Israeli ID or foreign passport numbers, restricting access to the legal system to both Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza, and African migrants seeking to appeal their deportations. Instances like the eight Palestinian villages neighboring Hebron demonstrate even in the best of circumstances, with a fair trial with a favorable decision, nothing will stop Israeli expansion into the West Bank.


About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

11 Responses

  1. German Lefty
    August 8, 2012, 11:55 am

    Different topic: I just found an interesting interview on AlterNet.
    “Meet Bibi Netanyahu’s Refusenik Nephew Who Says That Israel Is an Apartheid State”
    Looks like he’s blaming the USA and also Europe for the situation in Israel.
    “There are some, like Chomsky, who would say that the US is the dominant power, and within that there are various interests, like corporations. Any other player around the world basically does what the US bids them to do.
    There’s this competing view which is at least primarily raised by [Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer]. It’s about the Israel lobby, and it holds that Israel has a lot of control over US politics. I lean more towards the Chomsky point of view. […] I think that a lot of what Israel does is with the consent and pushing of the US. The US is fully complicit in everything. […]
    Unfortunately, so far we’ve learned that Israel — with the support of the US and much of Europe — has been able to maintain the so-called status quo for years now, since 1967. With this so-called peace process from 1991-1993 we’ve been able to keep this situation without it going anywhere very successfully as far as the right or the military establishment is concerned. And at least for the near future, I don’t see how that’s going to change. There were there high hopes from Obama and they completely crashed.
    In the end, as per Chomsky’s point, as far as I see it, the US dictates what will happen on behalf of various domestic interests.”

    • American
      August 8, 2012, 2:11 pm

      “I lean more towards the Chomsky point of view. […] I think that a lot of what Israel does is with the consent and pushing of the US. The US is fully complicit in everything. […]….Lefty

      All I want for Christmas and my birthday is for one Chomsky follower to give me just one concrete example of how the US benefits from the occupation of Palestine or from Israeli aggression and meddling with other countries in the ME.

    • Real Jew
      August 8, 2012, 2:11 pm

      @ GL

      In a way yes, America is the only country with the power to end the conflict. Considering that without unconditional financial, military, and political support from the US, Israel would not exist (at least in its current form). However, the US has a serious lack of will to do so. Mearsheimer and Walt are absolutely correct when they state that the Lobby holds a tremendous and unhealthy sway over US foreign policy. This fact was demonstrated when our congress sided with a foreign leader (netanyahoo) over our own president over settlements and the 67′ borders!

      American leaders do not naturally support Israel as many claim due to their “mutual interest.” The sole reason American politicians support Israel is due to the Lobby’s extensive participation in political campaigns. Any candidate who blindly supports israel will receive tremendous amounts of political contributions via Sheldon Adelson and his ilk. Anyone critical of Israel will suffer from lack of campaign contributions, intimidation tactics, political and media demonization, and support of their rivals (see Chas Freeman).

      So in essence, America is paralyzed and unable to be a balanced mediator when dealing with the conflict because the political landscape makes it impossible. Which makes the future of peace bleak as ever

      • Mooser
        August 8, 2012, 3:17 pm

        No-one has yet answered the question of who will be willing to administer and enforce any “peace agreements” (or whatever you want to call them) made by the Zionist regime. It would require a full on occupation and martial law imposed on Israel by an outside agency.
        Not a job I would want to take on.

      • German Lefty
        August 8, 2012, 4:04 pm

        @ Real Jew:
        I understand what you mean. However, I disagree with your statement that the USA “is the only country with the power to end the conflict.” I mean, didn’t you forget some other country here? Which one could it be? Um, perhaps Israel? When reading your words and those of Bibi’s nephew, one would have to conclude that Israelis and the Israeli government have no authority over their own actions and therefore can’t be held responsible for their own crimes.
        Yes, the USA gives unconditional financial, military, and political support to Israel. However, nobody forces Israel to use this support in a destructive way. That’s Israel’s own decision. Therefore, you can’t blame the USA for Zionist crimes. One could say that the USA is an accomplice, but the main culprit is Israel.

      • Real Jew
        August 9, 2012, 1:00 am

        GL, true, the US is not directly responsible for the conflict. I also agree that Israel has the ability to end the conflict and should be held FULLY responsible for their actions. After all they are the ones perpetuating the misery. But if the past 45 years has taught us anything its the Israeli govt has absolutely no intention of ending the occupation.

        It’s like having a friend who’s addicted to drugs. The addict (israel) asks their friend (US) for money. And every time the friend gives the addict money the addict buys more drugs. You see the dilemma? Israel, addicted to the occupation, has proven themselves unreliable, self destructive, and unworthy of support from any country. Yet the US continues to support them knowing they are committing war crimes with US weaponry. Not to mention its against US law to provide aid to a country with illegal nuclear weapons.

        Without US support the IDF would be less then half as strong. And with the threat of withholding aid, along with countless condemnation from the UN and security council Israel would be compelled to abide my international law.

      • German Lefty
        August 9, 2012, 5:58 pm

        @ Real Jew:
        the US is not directly responsible for the conflict. I also agree that Israel has the ability to end the conflict and should be held FULLY responsible for their actions.
        I see that we agree. Also, I like your drug addiction analogy.

  2. Real Jew
    August 8, 2012, 1:21 pm

    This is a perfect example of how colonial occupation works. Does anybody believe the IDF has no other place to train trigger happy 19 year olds to hate Arabs in the 90% of Palestine they already control? Is it worth forcing 1500 people to become homeless? Of course not, but zionism and the insatiable desire to expand trumps international and domestic law every time. This process of demolition and land theft will continue until identifying Arab towns on a map looks like a connect the dot puzzle. Essentially destroying the 2SS and making Palestinian daily life and commute unbearable.
    And after the Israeli govt is fully satisfied stealing every inch of land they deem worthy and after they are unable to squeeze the non Jewish population together any further will they pretend they want to compromise and make peace. And when the Pals rightly reject their “offer” they will tell the world “See, I told you they don’t want peace.”

  3. Blake
    August 8, 2012, 3:25 pm

    Gerard Horton: Imprisoned Palestinian Children Must Be Treated Justly

    “UK ready to take on Israel over fate of children clapped in irons,” read the headline in a leading UK newspaper the morning after the latest report on the treatment of Palestinian children held in military detention was released in London in June. The Foreign Office-funded report — Children in Military Custody — was written by a delegation of UK lawyers that included a former Attorney General and a judge of the Court of Appeal, following their visit to Israel and the West Bank last September.

    The report, the findings of which have been described as “shocking” and “damning,” describes how children as young as 12 years are prosecuted in military courts after being arrested by soldiers in terrifying night-time raids. The report refers to evidence collected by Israeli and Palestinian lawyers, as well as UN agencies, which describes an abusive system in which children are threatened and physically coerced into signing confessions, some of which are written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand. Following their conviction in a military court, most of the children are shipped off to prisons in Israel, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits their transfer out of the West Bank. Further, the report found that the military’s treatment of Palestinian children also violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child in a number of key respects.

    As shocking as these findings may be, reports of abuse within Israel’s military detention system are not new. In April 2012, Defence for Children International (DCI) released a report following a review of over 300 sworn testimonies collected from children imprisoned over the past four years. The report — Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted — found that children were tied, often painfully so and for lengthy periods, in 95 percent of cases; blindfolded in 90 percent of cases; subjected to physical violence in 75 percent of cases; transferred on the floor of military vehicles in 32 percent of cases; and imprisoned inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in 63 percent of cases. The report concluded that there was a systematic pattern of ill-treatment of children within the system.

    Similarly in 2011, the Israeli organization B’Tselem released a report — No Minor Matter — which considered the cases of 800 Palestinian children prosecuted in Israeli military courts for throwing stones. As part of their research, B’Tselem attempted to determine the number of persons injured by stone throwing, but none of the government agencies contacted kept any data on the issue. B’Tselem concluded that “the rights of Palestinian minors are flagrantly violated at every stage of the proceedings conducted against them, from the initial arrest and removal from their homes, through interrogation and trial, to serving the prison sentence, and then release.”

    The response from the Israeli authorities to these complaints is that throwing stones is dangerous, and sometimes lethal, implying that death is commonplace. Although any loss of life is a tragedy to be avoided, evidence collected by B’Tselem indicates that in the past 11 years, four people, including one Palestinian, have been killed by stones thrown at vehicles traveling in the West Bank. No one argues that offenses should not be punished, but we should all be able to agree that children accused of the same crime must be treated with equality under the law. Why then is a child accused of throwing stones in the West Bank prosecuted in a military court just because he is Palestinian, whereas an Israeli settler child accused of the same offense is processed in a civilian juvenile justice system, with all the added protections and safeguards this implies? Most would agree this is discrimination based on racial grounds, as I believe — something that has no place in a modern democracy.

    Many now argue that the institutionalized discrimination experienced by 700 Palestinian children prosecuted in Israel’s military courts each year is unsustainable and must end. A number of simple and practical measures have been recommended to reduce the level of abuse that is being reported, which include measures that already apply to Israeli children. These measures include ensuring that all children, regardless of race, are entitled to see a lawyer prior to questioning and to be informed of their legal rights. Further, just like Israeli children, Palestinian children should be accompanied by a parent when questioned, and finally, all interrogations should be audio-visually recorded. This final measure not only provides protection to the child against improper interrogation techniques, but also protects the interrogator against false allegations of wrongdoing.

    Since June 1967, approximately 730,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been held in military detention. To suggest that nearly three-quarters of a million people are “terrorists,” as is often implied, is both simplistic and unhelpful. Labeling an entire population as “potential terrorists” fails to acknowledge the part illegal Israeli settlement construction plays in raising tensions in the region, while leaving many frustrated that Israeli violations of international law go unchallenged. In few other situations would the international community tolerate an entire civilian population being held under military rule for 45 years, or the systematic abuse and military detention of children as young as 12. Until a bona fide attempt is made to right this institutionalized injustice, can anyone realistically expect the situation on the ground to improve?

    Gerard Horton is the International Advocacy Officer and lawyer for Defence for Children International – Palestine Section.

    That UK newspaper link mentioned in the first sentence can be found here:

Leave a Reply