A sharp rise in settlers’ violence in the West Bank & a horrible settlement coup in Jerusalem

Madeeha Araj
2024 / 2 / 19

By: Madeeha Al-A’raj

Thenational Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that according to Israeli sources, the Israeli Occupation Authorities have been pushing forward with Judaization plans of colonization since 7 October, 2023, in the Jerusalem city and its surroundings, where a new fourth neighborhood project, named, ‘Noveh Rachel’ to be established, in unprecedented measures, noting that the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, is the key body in this matter. Over the years, the Israeli Ministry of Housing has been confiscating the empty hills in Jerusalem and its surroundings, to build settlements that would impose a geographic change there. So, it has built the settlements of Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, and many others until they became about 35 settlements and outposts in Jerusalem, that were built with the help of the state, the occupation municipality and settlement associations, led by the ‘Elad and Ateret Cohanim Associations. Thus, settlement neighborhoods were established in the city’s neighborhoods, especially, in Silwan, and in Sheikh Jarrah.

In the past few months, the previous tools are no longer sufficient to change the situation under the fascists and neo-Nazis government, as the Ministry of Justice, headed by Yariv Levin, the promoter of the judicial coup, has entered the line as an executive arm for the settlement plans through the “General Trustee” at the Ministry, who manages the ‘Jewish properties before 1948’, and through the “Registration and Settlement Authority for Real Estate Rights”, which is also at the Ministry of Justice. Those two authorities are working hand in hand with private companies, which are run by the famous settlement activists, to establish major neighborhoods with hundreds of housing units in each within the Palestinian neighborhoods, where 3 new neighborhoods were built namely, “Givat Shaked,” in Beit Safafa, “Kadmat Zion” in Ras al-Amud, “Noveh Rachel” in Um Tuba, and a neighborhood still to be named in Um Lisun,.
Noting that, the above mentioned the Um Tuba village, 30 Palestinian families are facing forced displacement from their homes that have been built for years, in favor of a new settlement to be established there by Israeli governmental and non-governmental bodies, knowing that the targeted area in Um Tuba is located on a hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem from the southern side, and it bears the name “Noveh Rachel,” that will be established in cooperation with activists from the right, the ‘Guardian of Absentee Property Department at the Ministry of Justice, and a real estate company controlled by activists from the right. It will be the fourth settlement implemented by the ‘Absentee Property Guard Unit’ at the Ministry of Justice. The other three settlements are, the “Givat Shaked” settlement, which will be built on the lands of Beit Safafa, and the “Kidmat Zion” settlement, located between the Ras Al-Amud ‘in Jerusalem’, the Apartheid Wall, and the “Emet Hamayim Hatahtonah” settlement, to be established next to the village of Um Tuba, as well.

The construction plans are being carried out jointly with real estate companies controlled by right-wing activists, such as the Tobodia Company, whose board of -dir-ectors includes, Yehuda Rigones, a well-known real estate man in East Jerusalem, who was the former spokesman for the “Elad Association”, besides, he serves as the -dir-ector of the Jewish-Australian Businessman, Kevin Burmeister, a major donor to settlements in East Jerusalem. This Tobodia Co. works with the General Trustee, Hananiel Gorfinkel, a right-wing activist, who in turn established an association called for the Judaization of Jerusalem, and he undertakes the task of constructing at “Noveh Rachel,” according to a report published by the ‘Haaretz Newspaper’.

The -dir-ectorate of Planning at the Israeli Ministry of Justice, works in full speed under the brutal war that the occupying state is waging against the Gaza Strip, .] as it approved the deposit for the establishment of the “Kedmat Zion” neighborhood, followed by the approval of a plan to establish ‘Givat Hashked’, two days after the outbreak of the war i.e. in 9th of October. Thus, the pace of settlement activities increased. At the same time, construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood is ongoing. The Jewish quarter in Um Lisun, which is also the product of cooperation between Tobodia and the Ministry of Justice has been included twice in recent months on the agenda of the Regional Committee.

A recent report prepared by the ‘Ir Amim ’ and ‘Bimkom Associations’ showed that since October 7, the Planning Committees have put forward ‘17 structural plans’ sized 8,434 housing units for the benefit of the Jews behind the Green Line in Jerusalem, of them nearly 3,000 are marketed under the frame of the ‘General Trustee’s schemes. According to these associations, which follow-up construction in settlements, where settlement plans in all neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are being pushed forward in an exceptional manner and are receiving rapid approvals in the planning apparatus. In this context, the District Planning and Building Committee in Jerusalem rejects all objections it receives from Jerusalemite citizens. It ignores the housing crisis and the shortage of public buildings in Beit Safafa and other Jerusalem neighborhoods, which are threatened by expansion in the settlement activities.

In addition to “Noveh Rachel” built on the lands of “Um Tuba,” the settlement company “EpiCapital” revealed that it has begun building a new settlement neighborhood on the lands of Sur Baher called “Givat Beresheet,” located between the settlements of “Gilo, Talpiot, and Ramat Rachel.” According to the company, the new settlement neighborhood will initially include 693 settlement units, in 15 towers, ranging from 7 to 13 floors. The company said, ‘The municipality granted it a recent license on an 800-meter-high mountain in southern Jerusalem, where a new neighborhood called “Givat Beresheet,” will be built, which includes 4 settlement complex, where 15 buildings, each consists of 13 floors, will be constructed within a mixed-use settlement project that includes about 1,500m2 allocated for trade.
According to the settlement company, 416 settlement units will be sold in the free market and 277 residential units within the framework of discounted price tenders. The settlement company expects that the settlement neighborhood project generates revenues of NIS 1.4 billion. The company said that the project will include a diverse mix of apartments for the new settlement neighborhood and the elevated area overlooking Jerusalem in both parts. It is expected that this new settlement neighborhood, “Givat Beresheet,” will confiscate an area of Sur Baher land estimated at 400 dunums. According to the Israeli Planning and Building Committee, this is considered the first phase of the settlement project, while the second phase includes 2,500 settlement units with green gardens and many public places for settlers’ well-being, kindergartens, public buildings, and commercial and employment associations.

In Jerusalem as well, the occupation court issued last week a decision ordering the closure of the vehicle parking lot on Souq al-Juma’a land, near the northeastern corner of the Jerusalem wall, after crews from the occupation municipality and the so-called “Nature Authority” stormed the land in the evening of February 6th and began bulldozing the land, amid confrontations with the land owners, who have been waging a legal battle to prove ownership of their land for years.

The targeted land is adjacent to the Yusufiya Cemetery, part of which was seized for the purpose of establishing a “national park,” that it is adjacent to the Jerusalem Wall, the Lions and Al-Sahira Gates. The occupation municipality is trying to seize this parking lot under the pretext of being close to the eastern wall of the Old City, and part of the Judaization parks surrounding the city of Jerusalem. The targeted area is 1,260 square metres, and its importance lies in its proximity to the ancient wall of Jerusalem, and embraces the Monument of the Unknown Jordanian Soldier, and part of the Yusufiya Cemetery, in addition to being a road that reaches Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Lions’ Gate. The occupation municipality intends to transform it into a Biblical Garden in continuation of the plan for the biblical gardens project around the Jerusalem Wall.
The occupation authorities also continue their violations in the city and push for more settlement projects, coinciding with facilitating settlers’ incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque, in light of the significant restrictions on Palestinians’ entry into Al-Aqsa Mosque. In this context, the former head of the Israeli National Security Council ‘Uzi Dayan’ called for initiatives that would increase the settlers’ sense of security in Jerusalem, including conducting continuous patrols and establishing an additional barrier in the town of Anata. He expressed his fear of a repeat of the October 7 scenario in Jerusalem, where dozens of people live. Thousands of Palestinians in the Shuafat refugee camp - including citizens from Jenin - some of whom possess weapons, and that they can reach the settlements inside the wall, according to his claim.
This comes at a time when the occupation municipality in Jerusalem signed a few days ago an agreement with the “Jewish National Fund” called ‘Kakal’, stipulating the conversion of lands from the towns of Beit Hanina and Hizma into a settlement forest with an area of one thousand dunams. Last year, the Israeli Ministry of Energy approved the request of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem to confiscate more than 200 dunams of its land located inside the wall, to establish a central biblical and agricultural park and an innovative play forest, and to rehabilitate the area in what is called “Nahal Zamari,” and annex it to the “Pisgat Zeev” settlement. .

As for the West Bank, those who are close to the Minister of Finance, Smotrich, pressing to accelerate approval of plans to build 7,000 settlement units, as settlement leaders and settlement councils are promoting the convening of the Supreme Planning Committee at the Civil Administration ‘the executive arm of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in the Palestinian territories’ with an agenda that pushes towards accelerating the approval of thousands of settlement units, which requires the approval of the political level, that is, the government, and submitting the plans of more than 2,000 of them to the final stage of approval - construction and its location - in the Settlements -dir-ectorate, which was established by Minister Smotrich in cooperation with the heads of the councils in the settlements.
And with security officials Shlomo Neeman, Chairman of the Gush Etzion Settlements Council ‘south of the West Bank’ and Chairman of the Israeli Settlements Council in the West Bank, is upset by any delay in this area and says, according to the Israeli media, “Our silence so far stems from the realization that the State of Israel is going through a very complex period, where strategic relations with the United States of America are tense, the time has come to be liberated from the shameful American -dir-ective that apparently prevents Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank.)

In addition, the occupation authorities issued a decision to seize 18 dunums of land from the village of Deir Dibwan under the pretext of “urgent military purposes,” by forming a buffer zone around the “Mitzpe Danny” settlement, which is an actual implementation of the idea of buffer zones proposed by “Smotrich” after the aggression on the Gaza Strip. Immediately, with this decision, there will be three successive orders in the same manner ‘buffer zones’ around the settlements preventing citizens from accessing large areas in Derastia near the “Ravafa” settlement, and the Western Farm around the “Harasha” settlement outpost.

On the other hand, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had imposed sanctions on 28 extremist Israeli settlers, who committed acts of violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, and confirmed that it was working to approve sanctions at the European level on settlers who commit acts of violence against Palestinians. The ministry added in its statement, “These measures come with the increase in acts of violence committed by settlers against the Palestinian population in the past few months.
France reaffirms its strong condemnation of this unacceptable violence and has called on several occasions, the Israeli authorities to put an end to this escalating settler violence.” The United States and Britain recently imposed sanctions on four extremist settlers who practice violence and terrorism against Palestinian citizens in more than one place.
Israeli reactions came on two levels, the first from a number of Israeli officials, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich, and Itamar Ben Gvir, who agreed to refuse to impose sanctions on settlers whose brothers are fighting in the Gaza Strip, as if participating in the brutal war that Israel is waging against the Strip provides a safety network for settlers in the West Bank to continue their terrorist acts. At the level of settlers and Jewish terrorist organizations operating in the West Bank settlements, their settlement outposts and their pastoral farms, the reaction went beyond expressing rejection of these sanctions towards unleashing a wave of violence and terrorist acts, which last week spread across the various governorates in the West Bank, according to the violations documented in the weekly report of the National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlement.
List of Israeli Assaults over the Last Week Documented by the National Bureau:
• Demolishing homes and bulldozed a cave, a water well, and sheep tens in the Shoghab Forsa area in Masafer Yatta, forced the residents of the area to leave, the most recent of which was attacking family homes, threatened them, destroyed solar energy cells, damaged drinking water tanks and agricultural crops, and uprooted fruitful trees.
• A group of armed settlers wearing the uniform of the occupation forces attacked citizens’ homes in the Sadda Al-Tha’la area.
• Chasing shepherds in Wadi Al-Jawaya in Al-Musafer, and prevented them from reaching pastures and fields, at gunpoint. Settlers from “Mitzpe Yair” and “Susya” settlers also assaulted farmers in the villages of Al-Mufaqara, Al-Tuwanah, Aqwiwis, Sha’ab Al-Batman, and Maghayir Al-Ubaid, and occupation soldiers searched a number of caves and citizens’ homes in Beit Umar, settlers uprooted and destroyed dozens of trees in the Ain al-Bayda area, where they uprooted and destroyed 50 olive trees, in addition to dozens of almond and vine trees.
• Demolishing two sheep barns, and retaining walls, broke vine trees, and attacked the head of the Susiya village council, Jihad Al-Nawajaa, while he was on his land in the vicinity of the village. They chased the farmers and forced them to leave their lands in Wadi Al-Jawaya, east of Yatta.
• Attacking ed the home of citizen Ibrahim Aweida Sawarka, 38 and seized 40 heads of sheep, a vehicle, and an agricultural tractor, while settlers erected 10 lighting poles on citizens’ lands in the Khallet al-Nahla area near the village of Wadi Rahal in order to deliver electrical current to the “Givat Eitam” settlement outpost in Khallet Al-Nahla, amid fears that other areas will be seized for settlement purposes. They also smashed the windows of his vehicle and damaged the tires of his agricultural tractor. And his tents.
• Storming the villages of Kharbatha Bani Harith and Bil in and positioned around the two villages, chanted insulting words against the citizens. Meanwhile, a number of settlers assaulted the shepherd, Youssef Habas, and his son, Jareh, while they were grazing sheep in the “Al-Mazik” area, causing them to suffer bruises and wounds, in addition to assaulting their sheep.
• Attacking citizens’ vehicles near the village of Um Safa, while settlers from the “Ateret” settlement gathered on the main road near the village.
• Storming Khirbet Yanun, belongs to the lands of Aqraba, south of Nablus, and attempted to seize an uninhabited house belonging to the citizen Ghaleb Bani Jaber.
• Attacking citizens’ vehicles at the road near the Bazaria village, northwest of Nablus, resulting in damage to a number of them.
• Attacking citizens homes in the southern area of the Madama village with stones, before the occupation forces stormed the area and fired live bullets, stun grenades, and poisonous gas toward the citizens and their homes. The guard of the “Yitzhar” settlement also attacked the citizen, Shaher Hussein, a “bulldozer” driver, while he was working to open a road in Madama, forced him to get off it and fired bullets at it.
• Attacking sheepherders in the western valley area of the the village of Al-Sawiya’s lands and burned a vehicle belonging to the citizen Muhammad Ezzat Saleh while he was on his land. Settlers also attacked citizens’ vehicles at the intersection of the village of Bazaria, northwest of Nablus, causing damage to a number of them, while a young man, 20 years old and a child, 16 years old, were injured by bullets from settlers from the “Yitzhar” settlement during an attack on the village of Asira Al-Qibliya, and were subsequently transferred to the hospital.
• Burning a truck that was parked in front of a house in the town of Huwwara, they also destroyed an agricultural room, southeast of the Qasra town.
• Demolishing an agricultural room in the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan and stone chains, and vandalized an electric clock in the Al-Ras area, while settlers attacked citizens’ homes in the Al-Janain area in the village of Yasuf and attacked citizens, wounding a number of them, as a result of which two young men were transferred to Salfeet Governmental Hospital for treatment.
Jordan Valley:
• Attacking the Al-Malihat Arab Gathering on Al-Ma rajat Road, west of the city of Jericho, chased and intimidated the residents.
• Pursuing shepherds east of the Khirbet Al Farisiya, in the northern Jordan Valley, and detained a number of them, while settlers grazed their livestock on the citizens’ crops,

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