Land theft is state business in Israel

JVL Introduction

B’Tselem is Israel’s premier human-rights organisation.

The text below is reproduced from its latest newsletter (30th November) as an introduction to B’Tselem’s new research report about realities on the ground in the occupied West Bank.

As the report concludes: “When the violence occurs with permission and assistance from the Israeli authorities and under its auspices, it is state violence. The settlers are not defying the state; they are doing its bidding.”

What is taking place is state-sanctioned terrorism. There is no other way of describing it.

This article was originally published by B'tselem on Tue 30 Nov 2021. Read the original here.

State Business: Israel’s misappropriation of land in the West Bank through settler violence

Israel enlists countless lies and excuses to deflect criticism regarding settler violence against Palestinians: The attacks only happen “seasonally,” during the olive harvest; the assailants are “bad apples” – a few disaffected fundamentalist teens; the acts occur out of sight, in remote illegal outposts; law enforcement agencies are on it, the police are investigating, the military is refining protocol yet again.

Yet a new B’Tselem report shows that settler violence against Palestinians is organic to Israel’s occupation regime. The assaults happen all year round, throughout the West Bank: in established settlements, in isolated outposts, and in the dozens of “farms” that have sprung up in recent years. Some areas suffer more, but none are exempt. Every few years, the violence reaches a new level of sophistication. Twenty years ago, settlers from outposts were violently expropriating private Palestinian land. Then came “price tag” incidents, in which settlers vandalized Palestinian homes and burned fields, groves, and mosques in the name of vengeance. Now, we are in the throes of a violent takeover of tens of thousands of dunams by settlers from outposts called “agricultural farms”.

The result: tens of thousands of dunams of land misappropriated from Palestinians. Take, for example, “Uri’s farm”: The outpost, established in late 2016 on the land of Khirbet al-Mazuqa (a Palestinian village in the northern Jordan Valley destroyed in 1967), has violently taken over almost 15,000 dunams that local Palestinians used to graze flocks. That is roughly the size of the Israeli city of Holon. And it is one of about 50 such “farms”.

All these years, the state has protected and supported settlers. The military safeguards them while they assault Palestinians and take over their land; branches of government subsidize outposts (which are settlements established without permits); and the State’s Attorney Office and other authorities protect them from eviction. In the few cases the state has been forced to remove settlers who took over Palestinian land – from Migron, Amona and Derech Ha’avot – it has compensated them generously.

The assailants, and those who send and finance them, enjoy near complete immunity from the resulting harm to Palestinians. They are very rarely arrested, investigated or prosecuted. Sometimes, soldiers stand by while settlers go on a rampage; occasionally, they assist them. Last May, an armed settler wearing military pants was filmed shooting at Palestinians in the village of ‘Urif, near Nablus, while standing next to a soldier.

Somehow, there are never enough soldiers or police to stop violent settlers – but there are always enough to demolish a water cistern in an isolated Palestinian community (which Israel refuses to hook up to the water grid), or to stop activists from paying a solidarity visit.

None of this is random. The intimidation of Palestinians in the West Bank by settlers is another tool employed by the occupation regime. The regime, too, expropriates land, water, and natural resources, and is the first to block sustainable Palestinian development. Officially, the state abides by the law, aided by a slew of military orders, civil and military court rulings, and detailed Civil Administration procedures. Unofficially, but under the auspices of the state, violent settlers employ other means of oppression – assaulting Palestinians with clubs, pepper spray, stones, live fire, and dogs, raiding homes, driving shepherds out of pastureland, stealing crops, cutting down trees, starting fires, and more. Both forms of violence serve the same purpose: to quickly and brutally drive Palestinians out of their homes and land.

It is convenient for us, Israelis, to pretend that settler violence has nothing to do with us – that it is the work of hooligans who are not related to the state. In fact, it is yet another form of the violence perpetrated against Palestinians through other channels. Violence that is considered legitimate, and is permitted and backed for so many years, is not the work of a handful of settlers – it is state violence.

Eyal Hareuveni

Read the report here.

Comments (7)

  • John Bowley says:

    Sir Starmer and the other quasi-Conservative Labour MPs are supporting this.

  • John Noble says:

    We should have moved on from the sixteenth century when it was considered AOK to rape and pillage people of another land, we have experienced what it is like to be put under the jackboot, what is wrong with the world that this sort of thing is tolerated, are we afraid to work for a living?

  • Bernard Grant says:

    What angers me is, if this was China, Iran or Russia, the West Media would be wall to wall headlines of condemnation, the US and UK would be calling for sanctions or in Iran’s case threatening war but they watch in and carry on supporting Israel, with arms and trade. If the UN calls for sanctions the US veto them. On top of this support, here in the UK, the power of the Israeli Lobby is has caused the Rightwing Press, even the BBC to work to stop Jeremy Cornyn from ever becoming PM, because he would have made it a priority to get the world talking about it and condemning Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians, like he did with the Apartheid State of South Africa, which he helped to defeat. Now we have Starmer as the leader of the the Labour Party and he fully supports Israel.

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    Yes and all this is ignored by the UK Labour Party leadership while a former Israeli military intelligence officer — Assaf Kaplan — is employed in Starmer’s office to spy on Labour Party members

  • Joseph Hannigan says:

    Reverse pogroms?

  • Allan Howard says:

    This is a very interesting documentary that Al Jazeera have been showing the past two or three days, and is now available to watch on their website:

    A Palestinian Israeli Crime Wave

    What a nightmare it all must be. And just getting worse and worse as time goes on.

  • Richard Snell says:

    It is painful for me as a Jew to contemplate that there are Jews capable of such behaviours as described in this document; and it angers me that a nation-state should be encouraging these actions in my name when I am in fact the born-and-bred citizen of another nation, and content to be so.
    After everything that Jews have themselves suffered over so many generations, these are not the kind of thing Jews should ever want to do: the kind of nationalism and xenophobia which has resulted in Israel being the nation that it is should be hateful to all Jews, since it is exactly that kind of nationalism and xenophobia which historically has resulted in so much Jewish suffering. I want no part of it; and it is good to know that there are so many Jews, including Israeli Jews, who want no part of it either. Israel must learn the lesson eventually.

Comments are now closed.