Opinion |

A Tango of Violence: Building Outposts on Palestinian Land

The settler outpost that was established on the land of a Palestinian village east of Ramallah is the legitimate scion of a series of violent activities by Israel Jews against Palestinians

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Palestinians protesting at Pnei Hever on June 23, 2018.
Palestinians protesting at Pnei Hever on June 23, 2018.Credit: HAZEM BADER/AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Two new shepherd’s outposts that were built in the past week or two in the West Bank include all the characteristics necessary for a successful settler-colonial regime: long-term planning, activity according to a set pattern, ability to improvise and flexibility, violence, cooperation between an establishment and private entrepreneurs while maintaining the appearance of a controversy, a sense of superiority, juggling between legality and illegality.

>> Israel presents: How to legalize West Bank settlements built on private Palestinian land

Due to lack of space we didn’t catalogue every piece of information according to the characteristic required for the success of the colonialist enterprise. I rely on the readers to do so on their own

Less than two weeks ago an outpost was built east of Hebron, near the settlement of Pnei Hever. As of last week it included a tent, a sheep pen, a mobile home placed on an old truck, and a few trees that were planted. Whoever linked it up to the electricity and water networks didn’t bother preparing an infrastructure for removing sewage. A pipe ensures that the sewage of the mobile home’s residents will flow to the land of Palestinian farmers from the village of Bani Naim.

The land on which the new outpost and the nearby settlement are situated belongs to the Palestinian village. The area was declared “state land” in 1982 – a known Israeli practice, which under a pretense of legality settles Jewish Israelis on stolen Palestinian land, outside the borders of the state, in violation of international law. The outpost was built near the borderline between the area declared state land and the land of Palestinians that the repulsive practice has failed to dispossess.

Haaretz has learned that the structures are defined as illegal and were built without a permit, but are part of a valid master plan of the settlement. An informed source told Haaretz that the enforcement powers belong first of all to the local authority in whose territory the illegal building was carried out (the Hebron Hills Regional Council). In short: Forget about enforcement, forget about preventing pollution.

>> Israeli official declares plot state land, then turns it into illegal outpost

Palestinian landowners and residents of Bani Naim started to demonstrate opposite the new outpost. On Saturday they were joined by activists from Ta’ayush (an anti-occupation grassroots Israeli group). The well-based fear is that the existence of the outpost will greatly expand the area of land banned to Palestinian access, beyond what was declared state land. The soldiers demanded that the Palestinian and Israeli protesters leave. They claimed that this was a closed military zone, but in violation of the law they presented no signed order, tried to prevent those present from filming, and falsely detained 17 Palestinians, who were released about six hours later.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman told Haaretz: “Friction developed at the site between the group and settlers living in the area. An IDF force arrived at the spot and declared a closed military zone, in order to prevent the continued friction and to maintain security and public order there. The area was closed for a period of 24 hours.

“When some of the members of the group refused to leave and violated the order to close the area, they were detained, and afterwards transferred to be dealt with by the security forces. The incident ended without any casualties. The decision to declare a closed military Zone is made in accordance with the circumstances and the assessment of the operational situation.”

The second outpost, which was built last week on the land of the village of Taybeh east of Ramallah, is the legitimate scion of a series of violent activities by Israel Jews against Palestinians. The Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights NGO has documented four incidents of violence by Israelis in that same area since the beginning of the year:

A violent attack by Israel Jews, in which a mother and son in a Bedouin encampment were seriously wounded, south of the settlement of Rimonim; firing by an Israel Jew at a shepherd from the Al-Ouja area, which led to his being wounded and having his leg amputated; spraying slogans and puncturing tires of about 20 cars in Ramoun; a herd of goats belonging to settlers crossing a cultivated field belonging to the village of Deir Jarir.

Complaints to the police were filed for the first three attacks, but not the fourth one, despite the fact that this type of violence is actually the most common.

The Jewish Israeli shepherds who roam between the settlements of Rimonim and Kochav Hashahar have a habit of leading their flocks via cultivated fields belonging to Palestinians. The presence there of Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice) kept them away from the fields several times, but damage to the tune of tens of thousands of shekels has already been done.

And now, about 10 days ago, a tent and a sheep pen cropped up near Rimonim, on private Taybeh land, and about 100 meters of the area that was declared state land. According to the Civil Administration: “The construction of the buildings in areas that were mentioned is known to the enforcement agencies of the Civil Administration. Enforcement activities will be carried out in accordance with the powers of the authorities in question and subject to operational considerations and orders of priorities.

Left-wing activist Guy Hirschfeld figures that those behind the outpost built it deliberately on Palestinian land, which even the Civil Administration recognizes as privately owned, so that they could bargain with the Civil Administration until it allowed them to move 100 meters to the east, to an area that was stolen “legally.”

In every outpost and settlement they dance the tango of violence and planning, improvisation and legal respectability.

The goal is the same: To continue to reduce and fragment the Palestinian space. Success is guaranteed. If so why continue to try to put spokes in the wheels, as do the above-mentioned Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli activists, and those who weren’t mentioned this time? The answer will be given later on.

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