Citizen Action Monitor

Life and death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 1

Israel policy of expelling Palestinians from West Bank

No 1645 Posted by fw, April 20, 2016

Yesterday I sent the following email letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. It follows hard on the heels on my Tuesday, April 19 email, Dear Premier Wynne, your trade mission to Israel is reprehensible; which was a reworking of my Thursday, April 14 blog post, Premier Wynne’s trade delegation to Israel legitimizes seven decades of military brutality.

Why this flurry of emails to the Premier? All is explained in the opening sentences of Tuesday’s email letter:

Further to my email dated Monday, April 18, 2016 re your trade mission to Israel, I intend to send you one email, Mondays through Fridays from now until Friday, May 13, two days before your departure date, May 15.

Since you are using my tax dollars to pay for a trip that I very much oppose on moral, ethical and humanitarian grounds, this is my way of getting some limited value for my money.

Moreover, as I mentioned in yesterday’s message, I want to fill in some possible gaps in your knowledge base with a few empirically verifiable realities of the life-threatening risks to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Here’s my information gift to you for today. It’s a story published by B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, established in February 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members.

If I complete this exercise – and I’m not making any promises I will – by the final day, May 13, I will have sent 19 emails. I am under no illusions that the Premier will read – much less learn about – any of these messages. But to know that I have advocated for peace and justice for Palestinians is reason enough to do this.

Here’s the letter for Day 1 —

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dear Premier Wynne,

Further to my email dated Monday, April 18, 2016 re your trade mission to Israel, I intend to send you one email, Mondays through Fridays from now until Friday, May 13, two days before your departure date, May 15.

Since you are using my tax dollars to pay for a trip that I very much oppose on moral, ethical and humanitarian grounds, this is my way of getting some limited value for my money.

Moreover, as I mentioned in yesterday’s message, I want to fill in some possible gaps in your knowledge base with a few empirically verifiable realities of the life-threatening risks to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Here’s my information gift to you for today. It’s an excerpt from the beginning of a story published by B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, established in February 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members.

New wave of demolitions in West Bank: Another phase in policy of expelling Palestinians from vast portions of West Bank, B’Tselem, February 16, 2016

As of January 2016 Israeli authorities have stepped up efforts to expel Palestinian communities from vast areas in the West Bank, with a focus on the South Hebron Hills, the area around the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, and the Jordan Valley.

As part of these efforts, as of January 2016 and through 11 February, authorities have demolished 73 dwellings and 51 other structures, leaving 284 people, including 161 minors, without shelter. In many communities these were repeat demolitions of structures that were previously demolished, sometimes just days earlier, or cases in which authorities confiscated or dismantled replacement dwelling tents provided to the families as humanitarian aid. At least 37 of the structures demolished since the beginning of the year had been donated by aid agencies and European countries.

This exceptionally large-scale demolition campaign is reminiscent of the one waged in August 2015, when the authorities demolished 101 structures, including 50 dwellings, and left 228 people, 124 of them minors, without a roof over their heads.

Some of the communities where authorities recently demolished homes have been involved in a lengthy legal battle in Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ). The legal proceedings have revealed the state’s premise that the residents have no right to live in their homes and communities, and the state’s position that it has no obligation to provide them with alternative housing. Even in cases in which the proceedings have been going on for years – sometimes due to negotiations or mediation between the parties – state representatives refuse to acknowledge the changes that arise from natural population growth and the communities’ changing needs. Any new construction is met with an immediate threat of demolition, and sometimes actual demolition.

This state policy ignores the impossible reality it leads to for these Palestinian residents, as if Israeli authorities have nothing to do with bringing it about: In the absence of any possibility to build legally, residents have no choice but to build their homes without permits and live in constant fear of their homes and livelihoods being destroyed. Effectively, the state forces people to subsist in inhuman living conditions, without basic amenities and with no hope or chance for improving the situation. The policy, systematically implemented for years, constitutes the forcible transfer of Palestinians – a protected population – inside the occupied territory, whether directly, by demolishing their homes, or indirectly, by creating an untenable reality.

End of excerpt. To continue reading, click on the linked title above…

Kindest regards,

Frank White

Publisher and editor of Citizen Action Monitor

etc.

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