Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Yatta

Israel Self-defense excuses are paralyzing the livelihood and security of Palestinians

Maureen Clare Murphy Rights and Accountability 8 January 2021

The Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing in the shooting and grave injury of a Palestinian man in the southern West Bank last week, claiming soldiers acted in self-defense.

The “perfunctory investigation” that closed less than a week later exemplifies the culture of impunity long decried by human rights organizations seeking war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court.

The military claimed that the man who was shot, Harun Abu Aram, was “hit by a stray bullet fired when a Palestinian tried to seize a commander’s weapon,” as the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.

Abu Aram, 24, is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of his injury.

He was shot while he and others were trying to take back a generator that soldiers had confiscated from a family living in an area declared a military firing zone by Israel.

Palestinians residing in that area, a collection of rural hamlets known as Masafer Yatta, are forbidden from building or improving their dwellings.

The incident in Masafer Yatta was recorded on video:


The Israeli military described unarmed Palestinians defending the Masafer Yatta residence raided by heavily armed soldiers as “a violent riot … where [Israeli] forces were attacked.”

The language used to justify Abu Aram’s shooting at close range echoes that used by Israel regarding the use of live fire against protesters in Gaza.

More than 200 Palestinians were killed during regular mass protests dubbed the Great March of Return beginning in March 2018 until their suspension at the end of 2019.

Thousands more were injured by Israeli sniper fire, many of them permanently. The snipers got later orders to refrain from killing and instead to target legs in order that the Palestinians refrain from joining the marches. Many children and youths were on purpose targeted.

Only one soldier has been indicted over the use of lethal force against protesters.

The military repeatedly referred to Palestinian protesters as “rioters” in its argument to the Israeli high court regarding its “rules of engagement.”

Such language is intended to obscure the fact that Palestinians had mobilized to call for specific demands.

In the case of the Great March of Return, Palestinians were demanding to exercise their right to return to the lands from which their families were expelled in 1948. (Mind you that 80% of Palestinians in Gaza are transferred Palestinians from the West Bank).

Context of oppression

The “law and order” language (the language used by Nixon and the dictators) is used to obscure decades of injustice in the West Bank as well.

The Israeli military refers to Abu Aram as a “rioter” to avoid addressing the context in which the young man was permanently injured.

Abu Aram and the other “rioters” with him belong to a community that has been subjected to forcible transfer, multiple home demolitions and continuous harassment by soldiers and settlers. (I have already posted an article on the harassment that Palestinians in Yatta are subjected to)

This broader context of oppression is not helpful to Israel’s reputation.

And so Israel says that Abu Aram and those with him “sought to obstruct [Israeli military] enforcement activity” – never mind that this “enforcement activity” is part of a coercive environment created by Israel to push Palestinians off of their land.

As the United Nations has made clear, “individual or mass forcible transfer or deportation” of the population of an occupied territory, like the West Bank, is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention “and is also considered a war crime.”

The imposition of a coercive environment, like that endured by Palestinians in Masafer Yatta, is a form of forcible transfer.

While Israel may use the language of “law and order,” characterizing its military’s behavior as “enforcement activity,” occupation forces are, in fact, carrying out violations of international law.

System of oppression

Whether it’s forcible transfer or the use of lethal force against Gaza protesters, Israel’s high court rubber-stamps these policies intended to pacify all Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

In Masafer Yatta, that resistance was about retaining an electricity generator used by a family who are not allowed the basic infrastructure provided to Israelis living in nearby settlements built in violation of international law.

It is not surprising that Israel’s system of oppression and injustice would clear itself of wrongdoing in the shooting of Abu Aram.

As human rights groups stated this week, Israelis responsible for war crimes against Palestinians “have not been subject to any independent legal investigation in Israel.”

The Israeli military’s self-investigation system “is empirically and conclusively evidenced to be unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out investigations and prosecutions,” the Palestinian groups added.

The four groups – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Al-Dameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – noted Israeli courts’ complicity in the legitimization of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“It is beyond time for a formal investigation” by the International Criminal Court, the groups said.

In late 2019, the court’s chief prosecutor concluded a five-year preliminary examination, stating that requirements to launch a full investigation into suspected war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza had been met.

More than a year later, an investigation has yet to be opened.

The absence of accountability, the Palestinian human rights groups observe, has only allowed for the “consolidated, ongoing and internationalized assault on the right of the Palestinian people to dignity and to self-determination.”

Israeli Settlers Beat a 78-year-old and Came Back for 3 days to Attack His Family

A weekend of settler violence in the land of caves

Gideon Levy and Alex Levac.  08.01. 2021

GIDEON LEVY in a weekend of settler violence in the land of caves:

“We Palestinians are defenseless. We are surrounded by criminal settlers and there is no one to protect and safeguard us. The time has come for international organizations to protect us here.

This is a deliberate policy of the government, to shut its eyes and approve these attacks on us, in order to expel us from the land and then to expropriate it and transfer it to the settlers.

It’s also very convenient for the army to use these criminals for its purposes.”

(This saying should have been more fitting for any “normal Israeli” who loathe the aggravated conditions of the far-right parties. Actually, Israelis are no longer living a normal life according to the UN human rights standards. A colonial implant that retrograded to a State of ultimate apartheid policies, mass transfer of Palestinians, blowing of houses, and detaining youth with no legal charges…and constantly defying the world community with the political support of the successive US administrations...)

An almost biblical figure emerges from a cave carved into the rock. An old man, clad in a black robe, a white keffiyeh wrapped around his bearded, deeply wrinkled face, his pants held up with a rope, his feet in flip-flops, climbs slowly from the cave.

Meet Khalil Haraini, a farmer of 78 who was born here on this land and will likely die on it.

Khalil Haraini, who was wounded by settlers last month during one of several recent violent attacks on him and his family, on land that they own.

He lives in the cave with two of his sons, and together they work the adjacent family plot, 20 dunams (five acres) of wheat fields and barley. The brown soil has been plowed in furrows and is well tended; now a green carpet sprouts from it.

Only a dirt trail leads here, to Wadi Rahim, on the outskirts of the town of Yatta, over the hills from the Palestinian Khirbet Sussia and ancient Sussia and settler Sussia.

Two large black tents serving as sheep pens, and a residential cave for the farmer and his sons amid a primeval landscape of hills that surround their fields. But behind this pastoral scene lurks terror, the terror of the settlement of Susya, and even worse, the terror of the wild outpost of Mitzpe Yair.

More than two years ago, Michal Peleg, a writer and activist from the organization Ta’ayush- Arab-Jewish Partnership, wrote about a violent assault by residents of Mitzpeh Yair on her and her friends:

“Was the pogrom enough for you, one of the guys shouted. Wearing their pure white Shabbat shirts, tallitot, kippot, shavisim [prayer shawls, yarmulkes, women’s head scarves], they twisted my hand and snatched the camera. One of them pushed up against me with his tallit in my face, to beat me with purification. And then the women arrived, cursing.

One of the women kicked me in the rear with all her might: ‘Die, whore.’

Others arrived, wearing masks. On the run, rejoicing. Now it’s become a rabble and the rabble wants an oneg Shabbat [Sabbath celebration]” (“Mitzpeh Yair: A Pogrom for Shabbat,” Ynet; Aug. 27, 2018).

That’s also what Haraini, the elderly farmer, and his family underwent three weeks ago as they worked their fields, which they are trying to cultivate in spite of the terror of the settlers, in spite of the harsh terrain, and despite the lack of water and electricity – consequences of Israel’s draconian prohibitions, in this land of caves in the South Hebron Hills.

Last Friday, in the hamlet of Khirbet al-Rakiz, a few minutes drive away, a young man named Harun Abu Aram was critically wounded when an Israel Defense Forces soldier shot him in the neck at close range, because he tried to resist the impoundment of his generator.

The Haraini family in Yatta. Their field is behind them.

In a lot empty of everything but skittering chickens and plastic chairs placed in the January sun, opposite one of the last houses in Yatta, members of the Haraini family were waiting when we arrived this week: Mohammed, 54, an imam in the Yatta mosque, and son of the farmer from the cave; and cousins Aamar Haraini, a Palestinian policeman of 38, and Mahmoud Haraini, 17, a construction worker who was the one most badly wounded by the settlers.

The settlers of Susya and Mitzpeh Yair frequently graze their sheep on the family’s land and attack them from atop all-terrain vehicles and horses. But the weekend of December 18 was especially rough.

At about 10 A.M. that Friday, Khalil noticed a settler they know, named Yosef, from Mitzpeh Yair, grazing his sheep on the family’s land.

Hoping to stop him, Khalil asked, “Why are you shepherding on my land?” Immediately, about 10 settlers rushed out from behind a hill, armed with pistols, rifles, clubs, axes and iron chains.

One of them assaulted the elderly farmer, knocking him to the ground. Khalil was stupefied.

Settlers then beat him with their clubs. Khalil’s two sons quickly alerted Nasser Nawaj’ah, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, himself a resident of the local caves, who immediately summoned the police and the army.

The farmers and their families are most afraid of Yaakov from Susya, the most threatening of the settlers who attack them.

They’re also afraid of Moshe from Mitzpeh Yair. They have photographs of all of them. In this case, the Israeli security forces showed up about an hour later.

The settler who knocked down Khalil had fled, and the security forces lost no time expelling the Palestinians from their own land. The other settlers also left. Khalil was taken to the hospital in Yatta, where he was treated and discharged. “He is a strong person,” his son Mohammed, the imam, says.

The next day, Saturday, the family returned to work the land. This time there were about a dozen men, some of them from Yatta, who came to help Khalil and to protect him.

After about an hour of work in the field, they suddenly noticed a drone overhead that was apparently photographing them.

Of late the settlers are using drones a great deal as a means of surveilling the Palestinians, with the funding and encouragement of the government.

Later on in our visit, we also saw a kippa-clad Israeli operating a drone over other fields and buildings in the area.

A man plows a field in the Yatta area, in the West Bank.

About 10 minutes after the farmers spotted the drone that day, settlers from Mitzpeh Yair and Susya arrived at the field. Shabbat in the morning, a beautiful day, as the song goes.

This time they were even more violent.

This time they also carried stones, in addition to the usual clubs, axes and chains. They threw the stones at the farmers and also used them to beat some of the Palestinians.

One of the settlers approached 17-year-old Mahmoud and threw a stone at his face from a distance of about a meter. Mahmoud’s left ear was injured and he bled. Two stones struck the leg and forehead of Aamar, the Palestinian Authority police officer, who was not in uniform or on duty.

Afterward the settlers advanced toward the cave and the stone structure that stands at the edge of the field; from there they fired a few shots with an M-16 rifle at the farmers’ legs, to frighten them even more.

A settler attacked Mohammed from behind, kicking him in the back. Pistol-packing Yaakov was their commander and gave the orders, the eyewitnesses say.

The farmers tried to protect themselves and threw stones at the settlers to drive them off their land. The army and the police were summoned again and tried to break up the melee, but without detaining any of the assailants.

Some of the settlers left, but Yaakov stayed behind, with the soldiers. He threatened the farmers about returning to work the land, which he claimed belongs to him. He then brought an all-terrain vehicle to the site and began plowing over the already-plowed soil, as one of his cohorts filmed him. He did so, the farmers tell us now, to prove his ownership of the land – though it does not belong to him.

Yaakov also sometimes shows up riding a horse or on an ATV, making a show as lord of the field, and then leave.

Khalil Haraini

Mahmoud’s left ear was treated at the Yatta hospital. He’s still under medical follow-up, and he says that his hearing hasn’t yet fully returned.

The next day, Sunday, six or seven people were back in the field, among them Khalil.

Again the settlers first sent one of their shepherds to graze his flock on their plowed land, and when the farmers tried to shoo him off with shouts, the settler summoned his friends.

About 20 of them charged out from the hills, this time masked, carrying their firearms and other non-lethal weapons, as always. Again, there was an exchange of stones and curses and again the army was called in.

Again it ended with the two adversarial sides being dispersed, as if it were just a quarrel between shepherds – as though there’s symmetry between assaulter and assaulted, between the plunderer and his victim. This time, at least, the incident ended without anyone being wounded.

Are you afraid, we ask. “Of course I’m afraid,” Mohammed the imam says. “They are armed and are supported by the army and they are very violent. I am proud of my father for going to the land, but I am also very worried about him and about my two brothers who live with him.”

Is young Mahmoud afraid? He replies that he is not, but his cousin Aamar immediately corrects him: “Why do you say you are not afraid? We are all afraid. One day they will kill one of us.” Zoharan – criminals – is their term for the settlers.

The town of Yatta, in the West Bank.

Another cousin, Thaar Haraini, who’s in his late 30s and is visiting from his home in East Jerusalem, adds, “We are defenseless. We are surrounded by criminal settlers and there is no one to protect and safeguard us. The time has come for international organizations to protect us here.

This is a deliberate policy of the government, to shut its eyes and approve these attacks on us, in order to expel us from the land and then to expropriate it and transfer it to the settlers. It’s also very convenient for the army to use these criminals for its purposes.”

Afterward, we suggested that we accompany the group to their land, but they were very hesitant. They heard that “hilltop youth” from the unauthorized outposts have been on the rampage for the past two weeks across the West Bank, and they were apprehensive.

It took quite some time before they mustered the courage to go with us to the land on which they were born – they, their parents and their parents’ parents.

“For 78 years, he’s lived here,” says Khalil’s son Mohammed, “and suddenly young settlers come whose parents are from America and Russia, and want him to leave his land.”

It was quiet in the fields of Wadi Rahim, next to the cave of Khalil Haraini, when we got there. It was a perfectly pastoral scene, as though none of this had happened.




January 2023

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