As War Rages in Gaza, West Bank Routine of Violence and Arrests Unabated

Arrests, expulsions, home demolitions, land seizure and settlers harassing Palestinians continues: Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Palestinians complaining to Israeli soldiers during clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, seen in the back, in the West Bank.
Palestinians complaining to Israeli soldiers during clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, seen in the back, in the West Bank.Credit: AP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Last Wednesday, about an hour and a half after midnight, a group of armed men in uniforms burst into the home in the West Bank city of Ramallah of Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. One of the group tried to hand her a document written in Hebrew. She refused to accept the piece of paper. A female soldier, she recounted, read her what was written on the paper. A policeman translated it into Arabic.

Jarrar didn’t pay attention to all the details, but rather to the basics: The Israel Defense Forces was expelling her to the West Bank city of Jericho, and she was to leave within 24 hours. She refused to sign the document. It’s still at her house.

Under the signature of the IDF commander in the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the order is dated August 15 and entitled: “Order with Regard to Security Directives (Consolidated Version), Judea and Samaria (No. 1651) 5770 2009.” And below it there is another caption: “Special Supervisory Order.”

The text of the order read as follows: “Following the accumulation of high-quality and credible intelligence material with regard to Khalida Kana’an Muhammed Jarrar (hereinafter ‘the subject’), and after I have been convinced that serious security considerations required this and that the matter was necessary and required for decisive security reasons to maintain security in the region, I hereby order that the subject be placed under special supervision. As long as this order remains in effect, the subject shall not leave the Jericho district other than with a permit from me or someone authorized by me. This order will go into effect when signed and remain in effect until February 29, 2015 at 11:59 P.M.”

Jarrar stated that she would not obey the expulsion order.

Compared to the killing and destruction that this same army is carrying out in Gaza, the issuance of an expulsion order to a political activist is a trifling matter. The violence involved in Jarrar’s case is more bureaucratic, less physical (not counting the invasion of a private home). That’s also true when compared to the routine, day-to-day violence that the defense forces employ against Palestinian citizens of the West Bank. Since this violence is such a routine and daily occurrence, it is so taken for granted that even no German Chancellor Angela Merkel and no United States President Barack Obama bother to issue any kind of declaration that the Palestinian people have the right to self-defense.

This past Friday, as on every Friday, IDF soldiers attempted to suppress West Bank demonstrations against the theft of their lands and the mass killing in Gaza. One young man in Kafr Qaddum was injured when he was hit in the head by a gas canister. In the other villages – according to reports – demonstrators choked on teargas. Between August 12 and 18, IDF troops injured 139 Palestinians at demonstrations in the West Bank. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 37 of them, or 27 percent, were wounded by live fire. The others were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets or teargas.

Since the beginning of the fighting in the south on July 8, soldiers and police have injured 2,139 Palestinians in the West Bank. Since the beginning of this year, IDF troops have injured a total of 3,995 Palestinians in this part of the occupied territory. In all of last year, soldiers injured 3,736 Palestinians. Since July 8, IDF soldiers have killed two children in the West Bank and 15 adults, mostly at demonstrations in support of Gaza. A trifling matter.

The expulsion order may not be routine, but army raids into homes are. Boy are they. Children awake in panic in their homes from pounding on the door, rifles drawn and soldiers who are either masked or have black face paint. Between August 12 and 18, a total of 91 such raids were carried out in various villages and neighborhoods. That’s an average of 13 per night, and according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, last week IDF soldiers and police arrested 111 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 20 in Jerusalem. From the beginning of August, the IDF and police have arrested 477 Palestinians in the West Bank.

And that’s without even considering home demolitions, the seizure of land and harassment by Israeli settlers. OCHA is reporting six cases of harassment of Palestinians by settlers, including the use of live fire in a Palestinian village, vandalism, stone throwing and barring access to land. Israelis have also taken control of Palestinian land in two villages. Soon probably a boutique vineyard or dairy producing gourmet organic goats’ milk will be built there.

True, Palestinians throw stones and fire bombs at settlers’ cars. We’ve heard about searches and arrests at a village from which a fire bomb was thrown that injured a settler. We have not, however, heard about arrests of settlers who fired shots at the Palestinian village of Burin. We have heard about a curfew imposed on the village of Hawara over a Palestinian fire bomb thrown at a settler.

Last Tuesday, Abu Fakher, who is from the small ancient village of Khirbet A-Twayel southeast of Nablus, called and recounted how bulldozers from the IDF Civil Administration had demolished two ancient stone houses. It can be inferred that the authorities don’t really like the fact that the owners of the homes had renovated structures that testify to the deep roots of the Palestinian presence in the area. I apologized to Abu Fakher that events in Gaza prevented me from delving into the matter, and he understood.

There are a very large number of Israelis who carry out these trifling matters, including the visible ones (soldiers and police) and the invisible ones. Think of all of the unemployed people we would have if not for the occupation: the lawyers who provide legal cover, the drafters of documents and maps, the proofreaders and those who type the military orders, and the ones whose job it is to make sure there is enough ink and paper in the fax machines and printers. Then there are the commanders, bureau heads, Shin Bet security people, drivers, inspectors and Civil Administration committee members. And think about the fathers, and the wives and children who wait for these un-unemployed at home for Friday night dinner.



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