The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations

This statement is based on a letter the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations sent to the Permanent Representative of every Member State mission to the United Nations in New York on Wednesday 17th June 2015.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations expresses its profound concern over the Israeli Government’s imminent plans to forcibly relocate or transfer Indigenous Bedouin communities in the Negev, in Israel, as well as in areas of the West Bank that are under exclusive Israeli jurisdiction: areas categorized by the Oslo Accords as Area C. While the political realities in these locations differ, the legal repercussions faced by these Indigenous Bedouin communities are similar: they face the forced relocation or transfer from their homes and the expropriation of their land by Israeli planning authorities.
We are troubled to learn that plans for the forced relocation of 1,000 Indigenous Bedouins of Atir and Umm-al-Hiran in the Negev have been approved by Israel’s Supreme Court. Further plans to transfer Palestinian communities in Area C, such as Susiya where 170 structures are threatened with destruction and 350 people face the loss of their homes, are also going ahead.

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PHOTO ESSAY: The life of a child under occupation in Hebron

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This gallery contains 2 photos.

by the Hebron team, Life is very difficult for many of the Palestinians living in the Israeli controlled part of Hebron. Significant military presence, harassment by settlers and restriction on movement are everyday occurrences. As an EA living in the … Continue reading

Susiya: a village under threat of demolition

by Paivi, South Hebron Hills team

Flags are fluttering in the breeze and the children still play in the little village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills, but the immediate future is fraught with fears and dangers. The Israeli High Court of Justice has swept aside the last legal obstacles to the complete demolition of this Palestinian village in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control. The threat of displacement has not crushed the villagers’ spirit: rather the four hundred or so residents are doing whatever they can to save their homes.

150514 P Moore Susiya people try to keep their spirits high despite of fears of eviction

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Residents try to keep their spirits high despite of fears of eviction in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Children play on swings in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Children play on swings in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

The village of Khirbet Susiya has existed on this land for centuries, but everything changed in 1986, when archaeologists found “evidence” of an ancient synagogue on the site. The residents were evicted and they sought a new place to live on their own grazing lands nearby. However, an Israeli settlement has been built in the same location, and now the farmers and shepherds of Khirbet Susiya are facing imminent expulsion once again. We EAs are spending days and even nights in the village to monitor the tense situation and provide protective presence.

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Flags are fluttering in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Flags are fluttering in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

Khirbet Susiya’s residents need your help and support.

Take action box 2

Please Stand with Susiya and sign B’Tselem’s petition here. 

On the 10th of May the Civil Administration began ‘mapping’ Susiya – residents here fear imminent demolition. Click here to learn more.

You can help their cause by sharing their story and spreading their appeal through social media using #SaveSusiya.

PHOTO ESSAY: scenes from military training in Tawayel

by the Yanoun team

On the 19th of April 2015, eighteen army tanks, with their corresponding military supports arrived in the fields of Tell al Khashaba. A week later, additional military vehicles and helicopters came to the village and began military exercises. Farmers looked on in impotent horror as the tanks rolled up and down their fields and destroyed their crops. The crops, primarily grains such as wheat, are an important source of food and of income for the farmers. They plant once every two years, without this harvest they will struggle meet their basic needs.

Tanks Arrive in Tawayel, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

Tanks Arrive in Tawayel, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

R.Berg The Palestinians watch on unable to act

A local farmer watches the training, unable to prevent the destruction of his crops, Photo EAPPI R.Berg 03/05/2015

007 R.Berg Military training commences

Military Training by Israeli army in Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

Tell al Khashaba, or Tawayel as it is commonly known, is a small village located in Area C of the Northern West Bank. The land surrounding the village was declared a Closed Military Zone by the Israeli government when it assumed full control of over 60% of the West Bank in 1995. The Israel army often conducts military training exercises on the agricultural land of local farmers.The villagers here live under the constant threat of eviction and house demolition for ‘military purposes’. These military exercises severely disrupts both the lives and livelihoods of the twenty one families living here.

005 R.Berg Farmers attempt to continue work

Farmers attempt to continue their work alongside tanks, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

EA monitors as the army prepares for training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

EA monitoring military training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/R.Berg 03/05/2015

006 R.Berg  Tractor vs tank

Farmers attempt to till to their fields alongside active tanks in Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

004 R.Berg, villagers concerned over the training

Villagers whose fields were damaged during military training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

Once again the villagers and their livelihoods have come under attack. The army gave no warning and ignored the farmer’s requests for them to conduct their training in a field, which did not have crops in it. Later that day they withdrew, to another location, in the Jordan Valley. The villagers pick up the pieces and wait for the next time, saying:

‘They cannot succeed because we have our soul in the ground, they can destroy the crops but they will not succeed in scaring us away’.

Farmers working their fields in Tawayel / Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI R.Berg 03/05/2015

 

 

Take action box 2

Write to your elected representatives and ask them to support the call from Palestinian Organisations to the EU and member states to ‘Act now on Israeli Military Training‘.

 

 

Prayers, protests and incursions: rising tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque (by EA Sandra)

EAPPI UK & Ireland Blogs

As readers will know, one of the duties of the Jerusalem team is a morning walk around the Old City to check that the seven gates to the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound are open and accessible to Muslims wishing to pray.

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It’s all about land

by the South Hebron Hills Team

We recently went on an excursion into the countryside with Nasser Nawaja a local contact and resident of Susiya. Nasser is a field researcher in the South Hebron Hills for B’Tselem an Israeli-Palestinian human rights organisation. Through his work he knows the fragmented pastures around Yatta like the back of his hand. While touring with Nasser he pointed out a number of restricted “security zones” around the settlements and explained how the grazing land is divided up between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. The first thought that struck me, while he spoke, was that there really should be no “division” as such, nor any dispute over who goes where; the UN has after all officially recognized Palestine as a country.

Photo EAPPI/ P. Moore

Hilltop showing patches of land which have different access rules for Palestinians and Israelis. South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/ P. Moore 2015

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967 lands have been expropriated from their Palestinian owners under a variety of pretexts in order to allow the building of settlements. There are approximately 150 settlements in occupied Palestine. Significantly these settlements have large ‘buffer zones’ around them which Palestinians are denied access to.

“The fenced or patrolled areas of settlements cover three percent of the West Bank; in total 43% of the West Bank is allocated to settlement local and regional councils.” UNOCHA 2012

Compulsory purchase orders have been enacted which have taken advantage of legal frameworks dating from the times of the Ottoman Empire.  According to Ottoman law all land belongs to the State unless someone can specifically prove ownership in writing; further clauses have allowed the confiscation of land that has not been used or cultivated for three years. These laws tend to work against Palestinians living on the “seam zones and security areas”, where they are often denied permission to cultivate the land. Additionally when a dispute arises over the ownership of a particular tract of land, any use of the land is prohibited. This results in further loss of land and livelihoods for local herding communities.

“You see that brown patch of land down there in the valley?” said Nasser, pointing into the distance. “That and the green corridors extending away from it in both directions is an area closed to everyone. The same goes for the lush grassy area heading up from one of the corridors towards the outpost on the hill. On the other hand… the stretch of land from the look-out post down towards the road is off-limits to the settlers.” Nasser 2015

While Nasser spoke I tried in ernest to take the new information on board and to discern the logic of it all, if only so that I might remember the status quo in different strips of land on different hilltops. In the end I gave up realising it was a fruitless task and concluded “there was no logic”.

Nasser Nawaja and EAs talking with soldiers in patrol car. South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Nasser and EAs talking with soldiers in patrol car. South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore

Soon after a patrol car appeared behind us and some Israeli soldiers beckoned us over. By coincidence, at that precise moment Nasser spotted a few goats belonging to the nearby settlement, grazing in an area that was off-limits to all parties. He pointed them out to the soldiers and asked why the goats were not being driven away from the prohibited area like Palestinian shepherds often were. The soldiers had no answer to this and they got back into their personnel carrier and drove away.

Nasser Nawaja discussing the land use in Yatta area with an ISF- soldier. South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore

Nasser Nawaja discussing the land use in Yatta area with an ISF- soldier. South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore

I burst out laughing but then I felt ashamed. The situations one encounters in this bizarre patchwork quilt of hills and valleys would be comical – if it were not so tragic for so many. Each and every ‘re-zoned’ strip of dirt is somebody’s lost land.

Here we go on frequent visits to vulnerable communities living in Area C to give our support to families whose homes have been bulldozed or who are awaiting demolition. Many have received demolition orders because their homes have been deemed too close to either an Israeli settlement, a military firing range or an archaeological site. Access to land in area Area C, where the Israeli government has full control, is severely restricted. In fact, less than 1% of Area C has been planned for Palestinian development and construction is heavily restricted in 29% of Area C. UNOCHA 2013

Just a few days ago, our team rolled up our sleeves and joined the locals who were working to clear the demolition rubble away from the foundations of a house that had been leveled. The Israeli military carried out the demolition of a dozen homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Khair in October 2014. Umm al-Khair is bordered by the Israeli settlement of Karmel.

EAs help carry rubble from site of demolished house in Land Action in Um al Khair, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

EAs help carry rubble from site of demolished house in Land Action in Um al Khair, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

This particular family does not intend to leave and share their hopes and plans for rebuilding. They tell us that they will not build on the site where their previous home stood since the early 1960s, but right next to it. Many victims of demolition do this in the hope that the time it takes for a new building application to go through the courts will buy them some time in their new home. The temporary emergency shelters which the families now live in have been funded by both the European Union and the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and although this international support is greatly appreciated the residents say that they expect that these shelters will also be demolished before long. This is rural life in Area C in Palestine.

EAs and local residents clearing demolition rubble in Um al Kher South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

EAs and local residents clearing demolition rubble in Um al Kher South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Al Mukhtasem Hathaleen carrying rubble from site of demolished house at Land Action in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

Al Mukhtasem Hathaleen carrying rubble from site of demolished house at Land Action in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

Approximately 99% of all Palestinian planning permission applications are rejected. Significantly, while old Palestinian houses are being demolished on regular basis, settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law, are being expanded at a steadily increasing pace. In some cases entire villages are under threat of demolition. The one that is probably closest to the heart of us EAs in the South Hebron Hills is the small community of Susiya, which has recently been featured in the pages of Israeli and Palestinian and international newspapers.

Susiya: a community at the heart of the struggle

Susema and Odei sheparding on Susiya fields, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susema and Odei sheparding on Susiya fields, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Some 550 people live in the village of Susiya. Their main source of income comes from farming and animal husbandry. From the outside, the village might look like a ramshackle tangle of tents and shacks, but it has a soul and a school and a whole lot of children. Village community life flourishes.

The village of Susiya was here at its original location from the early decades of the 19th century. In 1986, the Israeli Civil Administration declared the village land was an archaeological site and the residents were expelled and the land was confiscated. Since then the village’s history has been one long chapter of nonviolent struggles against demolition orders. Just some weeks ago, the Civil Administration announced it had quashed the last legal obstacles to the complete destruction of the village. “Complete” in this case would not just include their makeshift homes but livestock barns, water tanks, solar panels – everything in the village.

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susya forever, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susya forever, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Things are rather different at the neighbouring Susiya settlement, built on village land from 1983 onwards. Life in the Israeli settlement carries on without any threats of the demolition.  The story of Susiya is one of many in the South Hebron Hills region, where too many people live from day to day never knowing when the next expulsion will come.

On the 10th of May the Civil Administration began ‘mapping’ Susiya – residents fear imminent demolition. Click here to learn more.

Take action box 2

 

Sign and spread the Avaaz Petition started by Susiya resident Nasser Nawajeh, Save My Village!

You can help their cause by sharing their story and spreading B’Tselem’s appeal through social media using #SaveSusiya.

 

Jordan Valley – the hidden occupation. Part 2.

Read the latest report from the Jordan Valley about how access to water severely restricted for Palestinians living under occupation.

EAPPI UK & Ireland Blogs

“There is no country on this planet where it is forbidden to drink water, except Palestine.”

– Resident of Khirbet Artuf.

A Makarot water silo in the Jordan Valley. Credit: EAPPI/P Hughes A Makarot water silo in the Jordan Valley. Credit: EAPPI/P Hughes

According to local NGO Maan, the average Palestinian daily consumption of water is about 70 litres per person, well below the 100 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cover domestic and public service needs.

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