A visit to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center - Silwan brings forth numerous videos of home demolitions, for instance this horrible scene, as well as reports about the Municipality of Jerusalem accompanying Israeli forces raiding houses and handing out demolition warrants.
The Palestinian News Network reported the Palestinian Council of Ministers met on February 5th to discuss land confiscation as part of a "campaign of incitement and provocation" surrounding East Jerusalem, Southern Jerusalem and Hebron. Among the provocations: an Israeli plan to build a new university campus near Jerusalem and 346 new housing units in Hebron.
The Arab League has accused Israel of systematic land grab and said that the conduct "requires intervention by the world community."
Middle East Monitor:
The Arab League has accused Israel of pursuing a systematic policy to control most of the West Bank for future annexation and settlements. The lands in question belong mainly to Palestinian villagers and are used for agricultural purposes and grazing.
A statement by the Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories Section at the Arab League said that Israel is confiscating this land by force, using the maximum level of violence against the Palestinian owners. By way of example, the League noted the incident within the past few days in Yatta, near Hebron. Israeli forces destroyed wells and houses as well as replacement tents put up by the residents as they fought to stay on their land. The Israelis used "skunk" water cannons, with polluted water, and physical violence to remove the villagers.
Stressing that Israeli laws passed in order to justify the land grab policy contravene international law, the Arab League said that the issue requires intervention by the world community. It called specifically on the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Middle East Quartet and human rights organisations to put an end to Israel's criminal actions which threaten international peace and security. The League also noted that such acts by Israel are on the increase and intensify whenever there are moves to put the peace process back on track by ending settlement activity and determining a time frame for progress. Clearly, it says, Israel is trying to forestall any attempts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict. A firm stand is needed to save the two-state solution, it added.
Haaretz cites "changes in Jerusalem police brass" as responsible for an "enforcement/punishment operation" resulting in sweeps of arrests, home demolitions and demolition orders as part of the operation. According to Haaretz:
Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem have complained that the police, under New district commander Maj. Gen. Yossi Prienti, have been implementing an almost declared policy of collective punishment against neighborhoods considered too disruptive.
Two weeks ago such an enforcement/punishment operation ended in Isawiya in north Jerusalem, and a week ago a new operation started in Silwan. The operations included numerous arrests, roadblocks to inspect vehicles, tax collection, house demolitions, shutting off water, various fines, searches and random checks of identification, and more. Residents said police officers and commanders have admitted to them that in practice it is punishment in response to rock-throwing and other disturbances.
........“The new commander set us back five years,” said Nasrin Alian, an attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.....
Other authorities are also taking part in the enforcement actions, including the Jerusalem municipality, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Israel Tax Authority, National Insurance Institute, Traffic Police and the Jerusalem municipal water corporation. All of these bodies have united under the auspices of the police to make residents’ lives miserable, in their words.
The article suggests these actions are the result of the new district commanders' response to "rock throwing and other disturbances." In the last week alone the demolitions include historical Islamic structures dating back to the Mamluk and Ottoman eras, preparations for building new settler-only roads, and the construction of a highway in the East Jerusalem's Beit Safafa neighborhood to shorten the commute for Gush Etzion bloc settlers (a road that will divide the neighborhood and cut some Palestinian residents off from their mosque, bakery and primary school).
Let's take a look at the Israeli Parks Authority's participation on the morning of Jan. 28th in Silwan before moving on to other recent Israeli expansions in the West Bank.
This "unity," per Haaretz, appears to extends beyond the Jerusalem municipality to include the Israeli military command's enforcement of occupation, including home demolitions and arrests throughout the West Bank.
The Israeli army served over 120 demolition notices in Hebron within the last couple of weeks. They've seized land for an extension of the wall in the Cremisan Valley on the outskirts of Beit Jala, cutting the Monastery off from the village. On February 9th, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved 869 Units In West Bank Settlements, 90 in the illegal settlement of Beit El near Ramallah according Peace Now director Hagit Ofran. Two days later there were demolitions in Beit Awwa, Hebron, with plans to build yet another settlers-only road being built along side of it. ISM:
In recent days there have been regular flights over the village and officials have been seen surveying the land. On the 10th of February two black hawk Apache helicopter gunships circled the village. When this new road is built the village will be completely isolated from the rest of the West Bank.
The cumulative impact over last couple of months has been dramatic. And for Palestinians, it's nightmarish-- whether it stems from the government of Israel carrying through on its threat to escalate settlement growth in retaliation for Palestinians seeking the UN upgrade or undertaking political annexation by another name or seeking to "prevent simmering civil unrest."
No wonder Secretary of State John Kerry is ducking questions about settlements.