3rd Thursday Action Alert: Tell Congress to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights
On September 29, 2021 Basel al-Adraa from the village of Mufagara in the South Hebron Hills documented an attack by dozens of armed settlers on his community. The settlers lit fires, damaged property, killed sheep, and injured village residents, including a three-year-old child who was hospitalized with a cracked skull. Israeli soldiers were present during this attack but stood by without intervening. Nobody has been held accountable for this violence.
The attack on Mufagara is not an isolated incident. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli settlers have carried out 365 attacks on Palestinians so far this year. Palestinians were injured during 101 of those attacks. No action has been taken by the Israeli authorities to stop these attacks, and as the olive harvest season begins in Palestine more attacks are expected.
Attacks by settlers as they push Palestinians off their land are not exceptional, they further the ongoing Israeli settlement policy which seeks to increase the Jewish Israeli presence in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) at the expense of Palestinians.
Settlement construction is also increasing. Last week the Israeli government approved the construction of over 1,700 new settlement units on Palestinian land in the Givat Hamotos, E1, and Atarot areas around Jerusalem. If built, these homes will ensure that Jerusalem is completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank as a result of settlement activity. This will end any possibility that Jerusalem can serve as a shared capitol in the future and directly stands in the way of a negotiated peace agreement. The impact of this construction, if completed, cannot be overstated.
Settlement construction for Israelis goes hand in hand with home demolitions for Palestinians. The Israeli government has already demolished over 670 Palestinian owned structures this year displacing just under 1,000 people and impacting 7,500 more. While the forced displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah have been temporarily halted, home demolitions in other locations continue.
These actions must be opposed. Congress and the administration have repeatedly said that it is committed to a negotiated peace and that it opposes actions, like settlement construction, that bring unilateral change. However, those statements have not been backed up by action. Given ongoing attacks by settlers, Israeli government action to expand settlements, and ongoing home demolition actions, congress should act to condition aid to Israel until it:
- Stops demolishing Palestinian homes and ends its home demolition policies
- Halts all land confiscation and settlement construction
- Holds accountable settlers and soldiers who violate Palestinians rights.
Those in congress who wish to take an immediate action to end violations of Palestinians rights can sign on to HR 2590 or introduce a Senate equivalent to ensure that U.S. funding to Israel is not used to support home demolitions, territorial annexation, and the abusive Israeli military court system.