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As West Bank violence continues, Netanyahu calls for settlement expansion, punitive demolition of Palestinian homes

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The ripple effects of Thursday’s outburst of violence in the occupied West Bank continued to be felt on Friday, as Palestinians woke up to news of more arrests, clashes, and plans of collective punishment by the Israeli government.

Between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, Israeli forces had shot and killed four Palestinians in separate incidents, while two Israeli soldiers were killed by a still unidentified Palestinian shooter, all in and around the central West Bank district of Ramallah.

By Thursday afternoon, Israeli forces had enforced vast closures across the central and northern West Bank, heavily deploying troops at checkpoints, major highways, and inside Palestinian towns and cities.

The intensified presence of soldiers across the occupied territory sparked clashes with Palestinian youth in several cities that lasted well into Friday.

On Friday evening, Israeli forces reportedly shot and killed another Palestinian during Ramallah-area protests, bringing the death toll over the past 48 hours to seven.

Ongoing manhunt

Israel’s manhunt for the person responsible for Thursday’s shooting attack near the Ofra settlement intensified overnight, as Israeli forces conducted massive search and arrest operations throughout the West Bank.

Israeli forces sealed off the entrances to several towns and villages, as well as major roads and highways connecting Palestinian areas in the West Bank.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Israeli forces detained 100 Palestinians in the predawn hours of Friday.

Among the detainees were a minor, a lawmaker, and a journalist.

PPS identified 49 out of 100 of the detainees, saying that 16 Palestinians were detained in the Hebron area, 10 in Bethlehem, 10 in Jerusalem, six in Ramallah, and seven in the Nablus area.

The majority of the detainees were young men in their late teens and twenties.

Israeli government response

On Thursday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that in response to the latest spate of Palestinian “terror attacks” on Israeli settlers and soldiers, the government would be authorizing thousands of the settler homes built illegally in the occupied West Bank, some of them decades ago.

According to Reuters, Netanyahu said he would work to advance plans for 82 new housing units in the Ofra settlement, the location of this week’s two shooting attacks, and two West Bank industrial zones.

“Arranging the rights for the homes allows thousands of residents to be provided with infrastructure of public buildings, educational and religious buildings,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

While Netanyahu did not mention the exact number of settler homes to be approved, right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted that more than 2,000 homes would be getting permits.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, as they are built on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since 1967.

Netanyahu has been on thin ice with his extreme right-wing base since he accepted a ceasefire with Hamas officials following a flare up in rocket fire and airstrikes in Gaza last month.

His decision on Thursday is largely being regarded as an effort to placate the pro-settler members of his government.

Netanyahu also called for the family homes of 29-year-old Saleh Omar Barghouthi and 23-year-old Ashraf Na’alwa, the two Palestinians assailants killed yesterday, to be punitively demolished within 48 hours.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

An Israeli military committee has even previously made recommendations to the government that the practice did not deter attacks.

As Netanyahu revealed his settlement expansion plans, Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, announced that he would be demanding full support for a bill calling to forcibly relocate the families of Palestinians accused of “terror attacks” from their homes to other areas of the West Bank.

The proposed legislation stipulates that within a week of an attack or attempted attack, the Israeli army’s central command will be permitted to expel the relatives of the Palestinian assailants from their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank, according to the Times of Israel.

“The explanatory text accompanying the bill touts Israel’s deterrence as ‘the cornerstone of Israeli security and a way to save lives and uphold law and order.’,” the report said.

Forcible transfer is considered a war crime under international law.

Settler attacks

As Thursday’s events unfolded, reports emerged from across the West Bank of Israeli settlers violently attacking Palestinian civilians in a spate of “revenge attacks.”

Shortly after the attack, local Palestinian media reported that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles in the Nablus district, near the notoriously violent Yitzhar settlement, in an “alleged revenge attack.”

Videos on social media showed settlers from the notoriously violent Yitzhar settlement, near Nablus, hurling large rocks at stopped Palestinian cars on Thursday, as Israeli security personnel stand by in the background. One Palestinian was injured in the attack.

On Thursday night, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) told Ma’an News Agency that one of their ambulance that was transporting an injured Palestinian was attacked by a group of Israeli settlers in the Hebron area, who hurled rocks at the ambulance, forcing it to turn around.

Ma’an also reported two other cases of settler attacks on Palestinian vehicles near the Beit Einun junction, east of Hebron, and at at the Nabi Younis junction, north of Hebron, causing  severe damages to the vehicles.

One Palestinian was reportedly injured with live ammunition as settlers, under the protection of Israeli forces, attacked Palestinians in the Ramallah-area village of Beitin.

Human Rights Defenders, a Hebron-based grassroots organization, posted a video of a bloodied Palestinian man in his car, saying he was attacked by settlers from the Jerusalem-area settlement of Kiryat Sefer.

 

PA suppresses pro-Hamas demonstrations

Despite not claiming the recent spate of shooting attacks, Hamas is largely being held responsible for the latest wave of violence.

Friday marked the anniversary of the Hamas’ founding, and supporters of the political faction took to the streets in Hebron and Nablus to demonstrate support of the group.

It wasn’t long before, in Hebron, Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces violently suppressed the demonstrations.

Videos circulated on social media show PA security forces using batons to beat demonstrators, many of them women.

In Nablus, it was reported that pro-Hamas demonstrators came under attack by members of other rival political factions more closely aligned with the PA.

The violence of the PA sparked outrage on Palestinian social media, as people drew comparisons between Friday’s events and anti-government demonstrations over the summer that were also violently suppressed,

Friday’s events are largely being regarded as evidence of the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel.

The PA’s security coordination with Israel has been denounced as a “revolving door” policy funneling Palestinian activists from PA jails to Israeli prisons, and is seen as a primary reason for the growing unpopularity of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Casualties rise as clashes continue

Clashes between Israeli armed forces and Palestinian civilians continued into Friday evening across the West Bank and Gaza.

On the Gaza border, participants in the ongoing Great March of Return stepped up demonstrations on Friday in protest of the four Palestinians who were killed in the West Bank on Thursday.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 46 Palestinians, including a paramedic, were injured by Israeli live fire on the border.

In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces shot a 17-year-old Palestinian in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet during clashes in the al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village. He was taken to hospital and reported to be in moderate condition.

Two Palestinians were shot and injured with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes in the al-Mughayyar village in eastern Ramallah, according to Ma’an News.

Ma’an also reported that Israeli forces opened fire on a Palestinian ambulance in the Ramallah-area town of al-Bireh, and that an Israeli soldier was severely injured after a heavy rock was thrown on his head near the Beit El settlement in Ramallah.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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8 Responses

  1. Kay24 on December 14, 2018, 6:07 pm

    The bastard takes every opportunity to arrest, kill, and steal. I guess he must welcome this distraction from the fact that he is in deep trouble within the country, being investigated for shamelessly taking illegal gifts, and together with his crooked wife, being disgustingly corrupt.
    He is a hateful man.

  2. Misterioso on December 15, 2018, 10:36 am

    Meanwhile, some good news:

    It seems that the master plan put together by Sheldon Adelson, Trump, Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s MbS to stomp on Iran is collapsing:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-international-anti-iran-coalition-looks-it-s-falling-ncna943736

    “Trump’s anti-Iran Coalition looks like it’s falling apart. He doesn’t have a backup plan.”

    By Trita Parsi, NBC News – Think, Opinion, Analysis, Essays, Dec.5/18
    “The president upended diplomatic relations based on support from the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Now our position is rather precarious.”

    “President Donald Trump set out to pick a fight with Iran from the early days of his administration. But a set of astonishing developments has pulled the rug out from under his feet, and the next three months will determine whether Trump will opt to escalate his provocations or find a face-saving exit from his bravado.

    “Only a few months ago, Trump was oozing with confidence, having pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, worked with the Saudis to squeeze oil exports and announced the re-imposition of sanctions to the pleasure of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As a result, the Iranian currency, the rial, was tanking and a noticeable sense of nervousness permeated Iran. The country had weathered sanctions before, but something felt different this time around.

    “Trump certainly thought there was: ‘I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing,’ he told reporters on July 12. ‘[A]t a certain point, they’re going to call me and they’re going to say, ‘Let’s make a deal’.

    “Fast forward five months, though, and all three pillars of Trump’s policy of strangulating Iran are at risk.

    “First, Saudi-US relations now arguably face the greatest crisis in history following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The US has long turned a blind eye to the Saudis involvement in the spread of terrorism, but Trump’s shameless protection of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman — who the CIA believes, with high confidence, ordered the murder — may be considered egregious.

    “Republican Senators who were briefed on the matter by CIA Director Gina Haspel this week left with little doubt of Salman’s guilt. ‘You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intrinsically involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi,’ Trump ally Lindsey Graham said after the briefing.

    “Even if the Republicans end up siding with Trump on continuing relations with Saudi Arabia on the current terms, the Democrats are unlikely to simply allow the relationship to return to business-as-usual.

    ”This is partly because the Saudi-U.S. relationship embodies everything progressives oppose: A cozy relationship with a brutal authoritarian ruler driven by the greed of arms manufacturers, all while the U.S. is complicit in a Saudi-engineered famine in Yemen and the House of Saud’s human rights and women’s rights abuses.

    ”Plus, Saudi has already annoyed Trump by cutting its oil production, arguably undermining its sole role in Trump’s Iran strategy.

    ”Second, Israel has played a critical behind-the-scenes role in Trump’s Iran policy. Netanyahu, in particular, has been a central conduit for the relationship between Salman and Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, which in turn helped pave the way for the close coordination between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and for the U.S. to turn against Iran.

    “But Netanyahu is now facing an existential fight for his political future. Israeli prosecutors have recommended indicting him again this week and he may soon face early elections as his government collapses. Though the next Israeli government is not likely to pursue a different Iran policy, it may not unconditionally embrace Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince as Netanyahu has. This could create a dangerous crack in the U.S.-Israel-Saudi front against Iran.

    ”Third, Trump’s own political maneuverability is at risk: Trump will face far greater political obstacles going forward from the midterm elections, with the House likely investigating everything from his taxes, to his relationship with Saudi Arabia to his policy of picking a fight with Iran. Forced to play defense at home, Trump may not be able to continue to make Iran a priority.

    ”But the most important indicator of the eventual failure of Trump’s Iran policy lies not with the health of the pillars, but what the current sanctions policy failed to produce before it was at risk.

    ”Trump promised that the Iranian currency would continue to fall and that Tehran’s oil exports would go down to zero. Yet, though the Iranian economy certainly is hurting, the currency has stabilized and Trump was himself forced to issue eight sanctions waivers to European and Asian countries, undermining the policy from the get-go.

    ”And the whole plan was predicated on the idea that an economic collapse would compel Iranians to rise up against their government. According to the New York Times, Trump was presented with a $2 billion plan to destabilize the Iranian economy and manipulate social media to foment unrest in Iran by causing the Iranian public to lose confidence in the regime’s ability to survive. Much indicates that the plan was adopted by Trump, yet it failed. The rial has stabilized and few are today willing to bank on the regime’s demise, even though the public’s discontent with the country’s theocracy remains very high.

    ”Today, if you’re sitting in Tehran, you’re probably more confident in the future than if you’re in Riyadh or Washington. Trump has thrown everything he has at Iran, and it hasn’t worked. And once the European .’Special Purpose Vehicle’ — an alternative payment system that will enable companies to defy Trump’s sanctions — is up and running next year, the Trump’s Iran strategy may face yet another crippling blow.

    ”The question is what Salman and Netanyahu will push Trump to do once the failure of the current policy is evident. If past is prologue, they will press him to go to war. But, at that point, even Trump may grow tired of being treated as the junior partner in this relationship.”

    • Kay24 on December 15, 2018, 8:57 pm

      That is good news indeed. As long as the international community pushes back, the Netanyahu/Salman/US plotting and planning, will hopefully not go anywhere. Iran is no saintly nation, but like Iraq before, it has been demonized, and made into a boogeyman, by nations who are guilty of the same. Trump made a huge mistake by destroying the Iran deal, as usual taking what works, and replacing it with nothing, like so many other domestic policies, that have Obama’s stamp on it. This must be disappointing for Butcher Bibi, for it seems his cartoon bombs have not worked either. It all depends now on how strongly the international community pushes back.

  3. amigo on December 16, 2018, 1:16 pm

    Speaking of the Crime of Genocide , we have here 2 examples that fit the bill perfectly .

    To wit !!.

    1, “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;”.

    2, “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.html

    //As in the following examples.

    1,
    “Netanyahu also called for the family homes of 29-year-old Saleh Omar Barghouthi and 23-year-old Ashraf Na’alwa, the two Palestinians assailants killed yesterday, to be punitively demolished within 48 hours.”.

    //This is Collective punishment , (a war Crime) intended to cause harm to members of a group , whose only crime is to be a relative of someone who is suspected of committing a crime, (btw Shooting foreign invaders/occupiers is not a crime under International Law) with the explicit intent of causing mental harm , as well as physical harm by denying them a place to live .//

    2,
    “According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 46 Palestinians, including a paramedic, were injured by Israeli live fire on the border.”

    //This criminal activity is in contravention of items one and two above.

    Only a blind fool or a zionist drunk on ziocaine could see this as other than Genocide.

    Do it to Jews and note how fast the claim of Genocide is raised.
    Ie, “throw all the Jews into the sea” or some other such ridiculous claim.//

    • annie on December 16, 2018, 1:53 pm

      to be punitively demolished within 48 hours

      you can watch it here:

      • amigo on December 16, 2018, 2:14 pm

        Thanks Annie.

        This invokes in me utter contempt for zionists and pure sadness for their victims.

        And they ask , “Why do they hate us so”.

        What amazes me is they don,t even try to hide their war crimes but rather advertise them.

        Tic , Tic.

      • annie on December 16, 2018, 3:13 pm

        yeah, i would likely be a complete basket case if i were there and palestinian. i probably wouldn’t be alive. not sure i could witness this kind of stuff all the time and not crack.

    • Marnie on December 17, 2018, 8:10 am

      @amigo “Only a blind fool or a zionist drunk on ziocaine could see this as other than Genocide.”

      I agree but am feeling more like there aren’t too many blind fools left wrt palestine, only those who refuse to see it for what it is. When you acknowledge wrongdoing and do nothing you are complicit in that wrongdoing. It’s the cowards way to deny it’s happening. I guess that’s how some people can sleep at night.

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