In West Bank, Layers of Institutionalized Violence

A look at a West Bank checkpoint 'that provides the Jews land and rights that it deprives the Palestinians of, a violence of the overlord that is intravenously fed into the veins of every Israeli.'

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli settlers start to build a new illegal outpost north of the West Bank Palestinian village of Ain al-Baida on October 25, 2016.
Israeli settlers start to build a new illegal outpost north of the West Bank Palestinian village of Ain al-Baida on October 25, 2016. Credit: Jaafar Ashtiyeh, AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The two men, dressed in black pants, white shirts and Jewish religious skullcaps, standing and taking pictures with their cell phones, would not have stood out if not for where they were, near the vehicle lane at the DCO/Beit El checkpoint in the West Bank, at the eastern entrance to the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

They weren’t taking pictures of the view on a Sunday morning or of the Israeli Civil Administration building that sits on a hill to the rear. They were photographing cars streaming into Ramallah.

Whether or not there was a connection, a few moments after they noticed that this reporter was photographing them taking pictures, they left the location and got into a car parked further behind, where a driver with a thick beard was waiting for them.

What did they have to do with the hundreds of Palestinians making the morning commute to work in the city? What did they have to do with the checkpoint, where in recent months its conditions for crossing have eased, and at which time there were no soldiers stationed?

The men taking pictures were not physically violent but the entire situation reflected layers of arrogant entitlement.

The checkpoint is a scene of layers and years of bureaucratic and military violence that has limited Palestinian freedom of movement in favor of the Jewish invaders. It’s violence that provides the Jews land and rights that it deprives the Palestinians of, a violence of the overlord that is intravenously fed into the veins of every Israeli.

A few dozen kilometers from there, on Monday, a young man with side locks hidden under a black hat sicced a German shepherd on several members of the Arab-Jewish Ta’ayush (Living Together) organization who have been monitoring the illegal and unauthorized new West Bank Jewish outpost being built in the Al-Hama area of the northern Jordan Valley.

Petrified by the unleashed dog, a solidarity activist from abroad who had joined the Ta’ayush patrol stumbled and fell into thorn bushes.

A photo shows the dog coming from behind and almost biting one of the activists (who exhibited impressive composure). At that moment the young man with the hidden side locks was holding the dog by its collar, it should be noted: Pent-up violence, reserved at least for the time being for non-Arabs.

The dog, an openly visible gun, in addition to concealed guns, threats and the entitled arrogance have for nearly two weeks denied Palestinian shepherds access to grazing land on the hill.

The site is a storehouse of deep layers of Israeli violence. The Mehola settlement across the road is built on land owned by Palestinians who unfortunately were not in the West Bank when it was occupied by Israel in 1967. These legal owners are now deemed absentees.

The settlement is not defined as illegal, adding additional layers of linguistic abuse. The road is called Gandhi Road, a reference to the nickname of the late Israeli Rehavam Ze’evi, who preached the physical expulsion of Palestinians and whose memory is sanctified in Israel today.

On the west side of the road lies the illegal, unauthorized outpost of Givat Salit, which has already taken control of privately owned Palestinian land, planting date palms and olive trees at the site, as well. And now comes the turn of a brand-new outpost, set up just five or six weeks ago.

The authorities are aware of it, and the unit of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has said that stop-work orders have been issued against it, and that last Thursday it was found that the construction work had stopped. Really? This reporter on that same Thursday saw construction work expanding up the hill.

And wonder of wonders, shortly after the outpost was erected, forces from the Israeli Civil Administration came and demolished huts and animal pens where the community of Palestinian shepherds lived.

A joint operation, we should call it. The deception that is meant to obscure the close cooperation between the lawlessness of the authorities and that of individuals is another layer of institutionalized violence.

Members of Ta’ayush took pictures of Mehola’s grandchild outpost and the people at the outpost called the police, who showed up immediately.

In what way are the Ta’ayush members any different from the Jews taking pictures at the entry checkpoint to Ramallah? The Jews that are a part of the Israeli aggressive fabric that Ta’ayush is trying to unravel.

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