Last week, B’Tselem issued a new report – Expel and Exploit: The Israeli Practice of Taking over Rural Palestinian Land. The report surveys the fragmentation of Palestinian rural space in the West Bank through a case study of the process that three villages in the Nablus District – ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem – have undergone since 1980, when Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby.
Separating the residents of these Palestinian villages from their farmland, pastureland, and natural water resources – while the nearby settlements expand their built-up areas and the land they use for farming and pasture – has undermined the villagers’ way of life. The collapse of their self-sustaining economy has reduced many villagers to a life of poverty, food insecurity and social instability. Denied access to the natural resources that used to be the mainstay of their livelihoods - and cut off from urban centers, roads, and communities that share their customs and social structure - a local way of life and unique cultural identity has been devastated. (See photo blog.)
Recent weeks have seen heated debate in Israel regarding governmental efforts to avoid dismantling the illegal settlement outpost of Amona. Yet while all eyes are on a single hilltop dotted with a few dozen trailer homes, behind it lie more than 200 settlements that control over 300,000 hectares of land throughout the West Bank. Setting aside the narrow legal focus on individual cases of Palestinians whose land ownership has been recognized by the Israeli courts, our new report offers the broader view, surveying an institutionalized system of dispossession across the West Bank.
Evacuating Amona and relocating it to another site of dispossession - this time officially sanctioned under the guise of a distorted, manipulative reading of the law - will not change reality. Instead of settlers directly robbing Palestinians of their land, Israeli authorities will do so by indirect means, and the wheels of the occupation will keep turning. Amona should be evacuated - but so should Ofra, Ariel and Elon Moreh, all settlements recognized under Israeli law. The fact is that the entire settlement enterprise is unlawful, and no amount of legal maneuvering can change that.
Author of the report
Click here to read the full B'Tselem newsletter, including the report, and these stories:
- Batan al-Hawa neighborhood, Silwan: The next target for "Judaization" of E. J’alem
- One quarter of Gazan requests for cancer treatment in Israel or the West Bank denied or ignored (WHO figures)
- Life under occupation: 8 family members arrested in violent night raid of their home; 7 released, most of them after a week
- Israeli military isolates Palestinian neighborhoods in downtown Hebron, making daily life an ordeal
- The whitewash continues: The response of the security establishment to the killing of two Palestinians and the injuring of another in October 2016
- Military resumes maneuvers in residential areas and grazing land of Palestinian communities: Two communities displaced and another ravaged