As the 68th anniversary of Al-Nakba is commemorated, the crimes of Israel’s occupation increase in severity, including further annexation of Palestinian land, harsh repression and violence against the Palestinian people and impunity on the part of Israeli forces committing crimes.
In March, Israeli authorities announced two major land annexations in the occupied West Bank amounting to nearly 1,000 acres. Israel notified Palestinians in three villages, al-Sawiya, al-Lubban al-Sharqiya and Qaryout on March 21 that their land would be declared “state land” and be integrated into the Israeli settlement Eli. A week before, land along the corridor between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea was taken for use in the Israeli tourism industry. These annexations further isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank and divide the West Bank from north to south.
On April 23 Israeli authorities delivered notices to the Palestinian village of Jalud in the north of the occupied West Bank that a further 1,250 acres of land would be annexed into illegal settlements in the area. It will be likewise classified as “state land” which means it will be under the control of the Israeli military. News agencies reported that the official rationale given for the land confiscation was “security reasons.” Ghassan Daghlas, an official from the Palestinian Authority told media that the claims of “security reasons” are “a tool to cover up land robberies for settlement construction.” There are now more than 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem built since the territories’ occupation by Israel in 1967.
On May 6, the Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs informed that Israel has arrested 5,677 Palestinians since October 2015. During the same period, 210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, the head of the commission accused Israeli authorities of spreading terror and panic among Palestinians while employing force on a daily basis to take individuals into custody. Ferwana further expressed concern about the physical and mental torture exercised by Israeli forces against prisoners.
More than 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with many held under so-called administrative detention. Administrative detention is used to imprison Palestinians without trial or charges for up to six months, and can be extended indefinitely. Since August 2015, Israel has increased tensions in the Occupied Territories by imposing restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshippers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Recent incidents of shooting deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces have highlighted the impunity with which such crimes are committed. Hysteria about knife attacks on Israelis have led to increased shooting deaths of Palestinians, including a 14-year-old girl in November 2015 who was allegedly carrying a cheap pair of scissors. The shooter, a police officer was not prosecuted. Another soldier was caught on video executing a Palestinian man after he was wounded. Of 2,600 investigations by the Israeli military into crimes committed by soldiers against Palestinians between 2000 and 2014, only 5 per cent resulted in indictments.
News agencies also report that new Israeli airstrikes were launched against the Gaza Strip from May 4 to 6. On May 5, a Palestinian woman was killed when her home was hit by shells from an Israeli tank. Air raids during the night of May 4 wounded four people, three of them children, medical officials said. The pretext for the attacks were claims by Israel of locating a tunnel leading to outside Gaza. Such tunnels are used to bring in basic necessities and other supplies prohibited by the Israeli blockade and siege.
(Ma’an News Agency, PressTV, Electronic Intifada. Map: Peace Now)