The Institute for Middle East Understanding has compiled a “Facts on the Ground Peace Index” to track Israeli actions on the ground since new talks were announced over the summer. For Volume I see here. For Volume II see here.
Covering Period: September 26, 2013 to October 30, 2013
New Settlement Announcements
- On October 30, the Israeli government announced that it would move ahead with plans to construct 1500 new units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo. The government also approved the creation of “Mount Scopus Slopes National Park” in occupied East Jerusalem between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Isawiyah and A-Tur.According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, “employees of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority admitted over the past weeks that the real purpose of the park was to block construction in the Palestinian neighborhoods.” The park’s construction is in accordance with Israeli government policies designed to limit the growth of Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem while encouraging the expansion of Jewish settlements. In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly gave orders to “advance plans” for 2000 more units in West Bank settlements.
- On October 9, the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee approved the construction of 58 new units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev.
Deadly Military Raids & Killing of Civilians
- On October 22, 24-year-old Muhammad Assi was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during a raid northwest of Ramallah. According to witnesses, Israeli forces also destroyed olive groves belonging to Palestinians in the area. The Israelis accused Assi of being involved in a bus bombing in Tel Aviv in November 2012 during Israel’s assault on Gaza.
- On September 30, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 35-year-old unarmed Hweishel Ismail Hweishel Hanajra in Gaza as he approached the fence with Israel, wounding another man as well.
Evictions & Demolitions of Palestinian Homes and Structures
- On October 30, Israeli forces destroyed a three-story home in Beit Hanina in occupied East Jerusalem, citing a lack of Israeli-issued construction permits, which are extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain in areas under Israeli control. The demolition left nine people homeless, and brought to 53 the number of Palestinian residential buildings destroyed by Israel in East Jerusalem in 2013.
- On October 29, Israeli forces destroyed a different three-story home in Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, leaving another nine people homeless.
- Also on October 29, Israeli forces destroyed part of a home and several other structures in the al-Taweel area near Nablus in the occupied West Bank.
- On October 27, Israeli authorities issued demolition orders against six Palestinian homes and a grocery store in East Jerusalem.
- On October 24, Israeli authorities issued demolition orders against buildings in the village of al-Shuyukh near Hebron belonging to Adnan Khalil Hussein Halaika and Ahmad Mohammad Issa Qadoum, including a home being built by Qadoum.
- On October 21, Israeli forces destroyed a two-story home belonging to two Palestinian families in the Abu Dis neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, sparking civil unrest in the area that lasted until the following day.
- On October 7, Israeli authorities issued demolition orders to six Palestinian families in the village of Bardala in the northern Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. The orders gave the families until November 11 to evacuate their homes.
- On October 2, Israeli forces destroyed tents and other structures belonging to Palestinians from the village of Makhoul in the Jordan Valley. It was the fourth time Israel destroyed the dwellings of the people of Makhoul. On September 16, Israeli forces destroyed the entire village of Makhoul, making 10 families, including 16 children, homeless. Two days later, on September 18, Israeli forces destroyed a tent encampment set up by the people of Makhoul. The evictions and demolitions in Makhoul garnered international media attention after Israeli forces roughed up European Union diplomats and confiscated aid that they were attempting to deliver.
- On October 2, Israeli authorities ordered several Palestinian families out of their homes in al-Oja in the Jordan Valley in advance of their demolition.
- On October 1, Israel issued a stop building order to Khalid al-Zeer, who was living in a cave with his wife and five children after Israeli forces destroyed their home in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem on August 30. Al-Zeer was attempting to shore up the walls of the cave after it began to crumble, threatening the safety of his family.
Provocative Statements From Senior Israeli Officials
- On October 15, settler media outlet Arutz Sheva quoted Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Transportation and a member Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, stating: “The Prime Minister well knows that today the Likud will not stand behind any political arrangement [with the Palestinians] that includes any further concessions. There is a long line of senior Likud officials, including [Transportation] Minister Yisrael Katz and MK Yariv Levin, who said ‘Anyone who would give up any of our homeland cannot stay in the Likud.’”
- On October 8, Yariv Levin, the chairman of Israel’s governing coalition and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party called for the continued expansion of settlements on occupied Palestinian land in an interview with a settler media outlet,stating: “We need to continue strengthening all elements of settlement construction, infrastructure and people’s quality of life and to strengthen our hold on the area, as well as strengthening awareness and understanding of the importance of our right to settle in these places.”
- On October 6, Prime Minister Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority after a nine-year-old girl living in a settlement was shot and wounded by an unknown assailant, despite having no evidence to connect Palestinian leaders to the incident.
- On October 3, it was reported that Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a settler, told a group of fellow settlers that Israel will never relinquish control of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, stating: “All the area located to the west of the Jordan River is owned by Israel and it will continue to be under Israeli control forever.”
- Also on October 3, The Jerusalem Post reported that Deputy Minister of Transportation Hotovely addressed a right-wing conference entitled “One State for One People,” asserting: “The Palestinians are also wolves in wolves’ clothing… But they are fooling the world. They don’t want peace and peace can’t be made with them.”
- On September 27, Housing Minister Ariel stated: “Israel will continue to build anywhere in the state of Israel. In the Galilee, the Negev, Judea, Samaria [the occupied West Bank] and Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas is not the one to dictate to us how to behave in our capital city… Whoever thinks that you can change the reality on the ground is hallucinating. We will continue and strengthen Jewish settlement. West of the Jordan there will be only one country, the state of Israel.”