Abdulhadi Hantash, a land surveyor and cartographer for the Palestinian Authority, sent me his “2014 Hebron District, West Bank, Special Report: Crimes committed against Palestinians by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers,” a continuation of his last disturbing Report. I publish it below, following his more recent bulletins.
I’ve known Hantash through email for two and a half years, and heard him speak in the U.S. a year ago. I was moved by his benevolent, visionary spirit, as he labors faithfully to free Palestine and to persuade the United States to stop supporting Israel’s illegal Occupation. Here are his reports just this month on Israeli aggression (edited slightly for clarity):
July 4th: There is a big new settlement of almost 10 acres between Hebron and Bethlehem, north of the Palestinian refuge camp Al Arrub, where the American millionaire Irving Moskowitz funds the rebuilding of a former church and hospital into housing for settlers. They want to add 125 acres of land, joining the Gush Etzion Settlement to block Hebron from Bethlehem.
July 7: On Sunday, July 5, I went on a research trip to monitor what the Occupation authorities in Hebron documented:
- In Otniel Settlement, there is much building and 3 Apartment Blocks.
- In Sansana Settlement, south of Dahriya in the south Hebron District, 3 new Apartment Blocks.
- They are expanding the Wad Alkhalil Quarry by about 25 Acres.
- In Tana Amarim Settlement, south of Adahriya, they added 11 new Apartment Blocks and bulldozed a new area to expand this Settlement.
- They bulldozed more than 25 acres of land south of the Regional Council and they want to build a Solar Power Plant.
- For a new outpost southwest of Shema Settlement: they bulldozed the land and started building.
- In Asael outpost, south of Samua, they added 7 Caravans.
- 2 Demolition orders in Kamiel village.
- 10 Demolition orders in Jenba, southwest of Yatta.
- The Israeli Army–not IDF, please*–prevented the establishment of a Water Tank in the village of Mnaizel, near Mtsadot Judea Settlement.
- In Susia Settlement, they added 5 new Apartment Blocks.
- In Avigail outpost, they added 15 Caravans.
- In Maon Settlement, there is much new building.
- In Bani Haifer Settlement, they bulldozed new land to expand the Settlement and they added 1 Caravan.
July 17: A New Settlement called Givat Haetam will be born south of Bethlehem on the land of Al Khader town. In 2014, the Israeli government confiscated 425 Acres north of Efrata Settlement and now they want to build 800 houses there. The goal of the Israeli government is to impose facts on the ground and to blockade Bethlehem through Settlements…. This land belongs to Al Khader.
Hantash’s account of the land near Al Arrub is confirmed by the press, which highlights Moskowitz’s subterfuge about buying strategic land in order to obstruct any Palestinian state. Hannah Sterling and Sara Anna examine how settlers funded by Moskowitz “ensure the real identity and intentions of property [buyers] are hidden” and “preclude any real possibility of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state.” Even The Times of Israel emphasizes that Moskowitz snagged the land, “through a series of shell corporations and charitable organizations” to “help create a Jewish corridor between the two areas, making a two-state peace deal more difficult to negotiate.” Haaretz reveals that “great efforts were made to hide the purchase and the renovations. A young man named Emanuel was in charge…and he presented himself as a Norwegian who wanted to…return [the church] to its former condition.” The Telegraph headline tells the aim: “Israeli settlers backed by US businessman ‘planning to take over West Bank former hospital to prevent Palestinian state,'” and its story the illicit means: “after setting up a Swedish straw company posing as a Christian organisation to avoid official scrutiny.”
But once again, The New York Times blurs the facts. Reporter Jodi Rudoren glosses over the Israeli colony’s hacking away at Palestine’s contiguity, yet she somehow still blames Palestine: “this compound is outside the Gush Etzion boundaries outlined in various international proposals imagining a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and it is adjacent to two particularly volatile Palestinian communities.” Nowhere does the NYT consider that Occupation is war and that Palestine has the right to self-defense under International Law.
Only at the end does Rudoren hint cryptically at Moskowitz’s scheme to chop Palestine to pieces:
Davidi Perl [leader of Gush Etzion] calls it “a very important point” geographically, “They decided to try and renew and make life in the place because it was empty,” he said.
“We are,” he added, “more than happy to help the Moskowitz family to do so.”
So Rudoren blithely parrots the old lie [apologies to Wilfred Owen]: Palestine is a desert without a people brought to blooming life by invaders.
When will The New York Times interview Abdulhadi Hantash? He might reveal that Palestine was a paradise to its people, and Israel has turned it to a wasteland of stucco fortresses, sewage, and war on the land’s true heirs.
Mary Yoder has edited Hantash’s 2014 report and and created an invaluable chart to map the locations of Israel’s new thefts from Palestine. Yoder worked with Hantash when she volunteered with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron, At-Tuwani, and Susiya from 2002-07, as well as when she sponsored his five speaking tours of the U.S.
2014 Hebron District, West Bank, Special Report: Crimes committed against Palestinians by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers, edited by Mary Yoder
- The area covers 250,000 acres (1 million dunums)
- The Palestinian population includes 650,000+.
- Many types of military occupation attacks are described.
Palestinians killed: 16
Land confiscation and dredging operations: 6380 acres (military and settlers)
- Uprooting or burning of trees: 3778 trees, close to Yatta
- Preventing of field work (agriculture): 20 cases.
- Damage to agricultural crops: 5 cases, 550 acres destroyed
- Construction of units and caravans: Added 112 new housing units and multiple caravans
- The construction of settler roads: 4 cases.
The demolition of homes and bombing attacks
- Demolition of houses / barracks rooms / agricultural structures / factories / caves / tents: 80 cases
- Demolition water wells: 30 cases
- Stop building orders: 231 cases
- Evacuation orders: 6 cases covering 740 acres primarily in Dura, Dhariya and Beit Ummar
- Destroying / dynamiting doors of homes or shops: 171
- Private homes seized for military barracks: 130
- Closure of shops under gun threats: 13 cases
- Breaking into shops and smashing contents: 84 cases
- Confiscation of farm machinery: 7 cases.
- Raids of private homes: 2734 raid attacks throughout Hebron district
- Includes shooting at homes and civilians, theft of property, stealing of gold coins, smashing contents of homes, taking computers, mobile devices, cameras, and DVD players, raiding institutional supplies, gas stations,
- Raids of schools: 20 cases
- Raids of institutions and factories: 70 cases
- Mixing food contents so it is unusable by the family: 8 cases
- Storming villages / towns / refugee camps: 1684 storming processes.
- Shooting at citizens: 450 cases
- Gas bombs used: 485 cases
- Stun grenades used: 300 cases
The arrest of citizens: up to 1800 detainees, many released in hours, others still in custody
- Beating of citizens: 180 cases
- Chasing pedestrians in army jeeps: 38 cases, running over 3 of them
- Chasing workers on the job: 140 cases
- Forcing citizens to undress: 10 cases
- Attacking on worshipers: daily and basis.
- Assault on school students, teachers, university students: 40 cases.
- Attacks on farmers – 50 cases, journalists – 18 cases; foreigners – 6 cases; demonstrators – 90 cases
- Using citizens as human shields: 12 cases.
- Kidnapping of citizens: 7 cases.
- Sexual provocation: 16 cases.
- Joint army attacks with settlers: 10 cases
- Blocking ambulance and fire crews
- Closure of roads / entrances to villages and towns: 66 cases (some remain closed)
- Creation of new barriers: 312 cases
- Detention of Palestinian vehicles: 450 cases, 4 cars destroyed, 6 trucks stolen
- Preventing access to the Tomb of the Patriarchs: daily
- Declaration of closed military zones: 20 cases
- Storming of mosques: 14 cases
- Disturbing graves: 16 cases
- Destruction of water networks: 2 cases
- Confiscation of water tanks: 3 cases
- Bombing of electrical sources: 3 cases (adapters)
- Closure of institutions: 2 cases
- Closure of factories: 1 case
- Erecting new military Towers: 1 case
- Prohibiting access to farmland: 19 cases
- New iron gates: one case, permanent gate closure: 15 cases
- Landing military aircraft: 38 cases of operations
- Bombing homes: 3 cases
- The travel ban citizens: many Hebron citizens banned from traveling abroad
Settler attacks and outpost gangs
- Attacking homes: 200 cases, burning down homes – 5 cases
- Smashing cars: 15 cases
- Uprooting trees: 800 cases
- Burning crops: 30 acres
- Beating Palestinian citizens: 38 cases
- Attacks on farmers, school students, children, shopkeepers, ambulance crews, shepherds
- Sexual provocation: 38 cases
- Assault on graves: 1 case
Prepared by Abdulhadi Hantash, Land Surveyor and Cartographer for the Palestinian Authority
Abdulhadi Hantash is a Palestinian field consultant to the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, for “Wall and Settlement Affairs.” He is chairman of the non-profit organization, Land Defense Committee for the Hebron District in the West Bank. He worked for the Municipality of Hebron in the West Bank as a land surveyor/cartographer for more than 30 years. He served on a special task force for the Geneva Conventions about human rights abuses in ‘03’, ‘04’, ‘05’, ‘06’, and ‘09’.
Mr. Hantash has testified in Israeli courts more than three hundred times. He regularly discusses land issues with journalists and is particularly good at describing the various methods by which Israel legally seizes Palestinian land, through hundreds of military laws. He knows every dunum (acre) in Hebron. Palestinians and Israelis highly regard his expertise.
Mr. Hantash is committed to non-violence and works closely with Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations. He has toured internationally on four continents and has met with U.S. lawmakers and the U.S. State Department many times.
I had noticed that Hantash always says, “Israeli Army” or “military,” rather than the nondescript initials, “IDF.” I assumed that his choice reminds all that those soldiers are Israeli-government combatants used for a war of aggression, that is, Occupation. I asked him about the choice. He responded,
Israel has deceived the world for a long time. They invent lies, then believe them, and then export these lies to the world, and the world believes it without searching for the truth. For example, in the occupied Palestinian territories there is the so-called Israeli “Civil Administration.” Anyone who hears the phrase, “civil administration,” believes it manages Civil Affairs and is welcomed by the citizens. But in fact they protect all the [illegal] settlers’ crimes against the Palestinian people [who are not allowed citizenship]. They issue military orders to confiscate lands, demolish buildings, deport people, and stop construction–all crimes under the cover of “civil” words.
As for what is called “the IDF”: He who commits war crimes everywhere, and not only in the occupied Palestinian territories, beating Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, under the pretext of counter-terrorism. They destroyed the freedom ship going to Gaza to help the people there and killed many people on the ship. The Israeli Army destroy Gaza many times; they killed hundreds of children and thousands of people; they destroyed thousands of houses. There are more than 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. They destroy more than 28,000 Palestinian homes. The Israeli Occupation Army, author of the Zionist terrorist organizations which displaced the Palestinian people in 1948. And every day there are killings in the Palestinian territories by the Israeli army, which an occupying army who suppress peaceful demonstrations every day. Israeli army killed Rachel Corrie and others from foreign countries. They prevent foreign delegations from coming to Palestine Solidarity with the Palestinian People and more and more. Is this to say the IDF? In fact, at hundreds of military check points in Palestine, they act as terrorists. But does one dare to say this fact?
I asked how he was, and Hantash replied:
“I work very hard, but I must help my People.”