As the “peace process” drags on, and Kerry negotiates in yet another US “initiative,” the following occurs.
Israel demolishes Palestinian houses built without a permit. The catch is, Israel almost never issues permits to Palestinians (Middle East Monitor):
A researcher at the Wadi Halaweh Information Centre, Maysa Abu Ghazaleh, told Safa news agency that the Israeli authorities’ bulldozers, protected by the police, demolished two houses in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sur Baher and Beit Hanina on Wednesday morning, and started the preparations to demolish another two houses in Mount Scopus.
Abu Ghazaleh said: “The bulldozers demolished a house in the Sur Baher neighbourhood south of Jerusalem owned by Mujahid Abu Sarhan, which sheltered four individuals. The second house belonged to Mohammed Sandouka in Wadi Al Dam near Beit Hanina and sheltered seven people.”
Abu Sarhan recalled how “at 5:30 am the Israeli forces smashed the doors and broke into my house. They beat me and then forced me and my family to leave the house. They threw our furniture into the street and destroyed it, then demolished the entire house. I built my 35 square meter house in 2008 from sheet iron and aluminium. I have already paid 13,000 shekels as a fine to the Jerusalem municipality.” Abu Sarhan added that the Israeli authorities demolished his house without any previous notice. “I had been trying to obtain a license for my house from the municipality for years now,” he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister threatens military aggression against Palestinians (AFP):
“… we respond forcefully against whoever hurts us,” Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference with visiting Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.
“This policy produced a quiet year in 2013, which was the quietest in many years. If Hamas and the terror organisations have forgotten this lesson, they will learn it again powerfully very soon.”
Palestinians living in Gaza are left to rot in an open-air prison (Guardian):
Electricity is rationed, currently eight hours on followed by eight hours off. Some families are cooking indoors on open fires, at considerable risk of injury. Children are forced to study by candlelight. People set alarms for the early hours in order to be able to take a shower or charge their phones or send an email. Mealtimes are now determined by power supply rather than tradition.
Gaza’s hospitals have to take into account the vagaries of the power supply when scheduling surgery; pharmacies are running low on medicines. Roadworks and half-finished buildings – new homes, hospitals, schools – are abandoned as the lack of materials makes completion impossible.
… now, eight and a half years and two wars since Israeli “disengagement”, Gaza is still blockaded and hope is rare. Israel controls most of its borders, deciding who and what can get in and out. Almost all exports are still banned; fishermen are regularly shot at by the Israeli navy; families are still separated. And in recent months, Egypt has destroyed hundreds of tunnels which had been Gaza’s life support system, and has locked down the sole border crossing at the southern end of the strip, cutting Gazans off from the outside world.
… The people of Gaza are reeling from a series of blows that have led some analysts to say that it is facing its worst crisis for more than six years, putting its 1.7 million inhabitants under intense material and psychological pressure. Israel’s continued blockade has been exacerbated by mounting hostility to Gaza’s Hamas government from the military regime in Cairo, which sees it as an extension of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians have virtually cut off access to and from Gaza, and as a result Hamas is facing crippling financial problems and a new political isolation.
Power cuts, fuel shortages, price rises, job losses, Israeli air strikes, untreated sewage in the streets and the sea, internal political repression, the near-impossibility of leaving, the lack of hope or horizon – these have chipped away at the resilience and fortitude of Gazans, crushing their spirit.
Palestinians in Gaza are running out of water (Ha’aretz):
… Prof. Uri Shani, former head of the Water Authority and current Israeli representative in the talks with the Palestinians and Jordanians on water … said Gaza already has a high rate of water pollution-related childhood illnesses, which threaten to cross over to Israel as well. Shani said the international project to establish a desalination plant for Gaza would take years to complete and warned that an additional supply of water is needed now.
Another participant in the conference was Dr. Mohammed al-Hamidi, former director of the Environment Ministry in the Palestinian Authority and now a private environmental consultant. He said there are types of desalination plants that could be set up more quickly if Israel were more flexible and did not hold up permits for their construction. He agreed with Shani that regardless of the progress on the peace process, there was an urgent need to alleviate the water shortage in Gaza.
“Hamas is not working to solve the water problem. Israel has ignored it too, and so far has not kept its promises to increase the water supply,” said Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, after the conference. “In addition, there are problems with the electricity supply in the Gaza Strip, which makes it difficult to construct desalination or sewage treatment facilities. We are facing a disaster, since in a little while there will be no water in Gaza. No fence will stop a million and a half people – with no reprieve offered by Hamas – who will try to reach Israel so that they will have water to drink.”
… According to UN estimates, only one-tenth of the drinking water in Gaza meets the sanitation standards set by the World Health Organization. The WHO estimates that as early as 2016, the groundwater will be unusable, and the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip will be left without a source of water.
Israel continues to slaughter Palestinians at will, and with impunity (Ma’an):
Israeli forces killed six Palestinians and injured 41 in attacks on Gaza in January, a ministry official said Saturday.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said in a statement that “the Israeli occupation intensified airstrikes against unarmed civilians, particularly in the eastern Gaza Strip” in January.
The statement pointed out that a large number of the injured were children. …
Israeli army figures show nine rockets have struck Israeli territory since Jan. 1, and another five were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
None of the rockets caused injuries.
Israeli airstrikes this year on targets in Gaza have injured dozens of people, mainly civilians.
Israel continues to expand its settlements, in contradiction to international law, the UN consensus, and the official US position (Ma’an):
Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in illegal settlements in annexed East Jerusalem, the city council said.
In a statement listing “building permits that were approved” during a local planning committee session, it said permits were granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev.
Settlers destroy Palestinian land with impunity (Ma’an):
Israeli settlers on Wednesday destroyed over 100 olive trees in the Nablus district, a Palestinian Authority official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from Itamar cut down the olive trees in an open area in Wadi Yanoun, which is situated between Awarta and Yanoun villages.
Jewish settlers on Sunday vandalized private Palestinian agricultural lands north of Ramallah and uprooted more than 1,000 olive trees and newly planted saplings.
The Israeli state does the same thing (Ma’an):
Bulldozers and tractors sent by the Israel Land Authority on Wednesday morning destroyed fields of wheat, barley and other cereal grains planted by Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev.
Residents told a Ma’an reporter in the southern Israeli region that tractors plowed and destroyed crops that had been planted on lands belonging to the Huzayyil tribe, before moving to the area of the nearby Awajan Bedouin village.
Israeli authorities said that Negev Bedouins have taken control of state lands which they could have instead leased on a yearly basis at cheap rates.
The Bedouins said they refused to sign any lease because if they do it would constitute approving Israeli claims that their private lands are state properties. …
Because Bedouins generally lack titles to the lands their ancestors have historically grazed and lived on, it is difficult for them to prove their right to live there.
Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people, out of a total of around 200,000 Bedouins.
Israel refuses to allow a modernized West Bank landfill to operate (Ha’aretz):
The Civil Administration refuses to allow the operation of a landfill funded by the World Bank and intended to serve the Palestinian population south of Jerusalem.
The administration is demanding that the Palestinians agree to let the region’s settlements use the site as well, but the Palestinians refuse.
The Al-Minya landfill east of Bethlehem was built in the last two years with funds the World Bank gave the Palestinian Authority. It is the first modern landfill in the southern West Bank, with means of sealing the earth to prevent waste from leaking into the groundwater. Another modern landfill, also set up with international funding, is already operating in the Jenin area.
Since Al-Minya is in Area C, its construction required the Civil Administration’s approval. Currently the waste from the Hebron and Bethlehem communities is dumped in pirate sites that constitute serious environmental hazards. Some Palestinian communities dump the garbage in open areas and occasionally burn it to reduce its volume.
Anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes said he visited the Al-Minya site this week and spoke to one of its operators, who told him the site is not operating even though its construction is completed because the Civil Administration insists on dumping the settlements’ garbage in it, too.
A spokesman for the the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the Palestinian Authority, Civil Administration and World Bank advanced the landfill for the waste of the Bethlehem and Hebron regions, as well as for the communities near Jerusalem.
The spokesman said the Palestinians reneged on their agreement to operate the site as a regional landfill that would serve the Jewish settlements as well. For this reason the Civil Administration won’t let the site to operate.
However, the World Bank made it clear in the talks about the landfill’s operation last year that the funds it gave the Palestinian Authority are intended for the Palestinian population. Traditionally, the Palestinian Authority does not cooperate in the use of infrastructure facilities with the settlements, which it sees as illegitimate.