Israeli Settlers hold Settlement Division of Civil Administration, Turn their back to international Sanctions

Madeeha Araj
2024 / 3 / 26

By: Madeeha Al-A’raj
The National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that Finance Minister, and Minister of Settlement at the Army Ministry, Smotrich tries to provide the best conditions that meet the interests and demands of the settlers in general and the extremist settlers in particular as he intends to appoint Hillel Rot, from the ‘Yitzhar settlement’ south of Nablus, a Deputy Head of the ‘Civil Administration’ in the West Bank, and to grant him the powers to prevent law enforcement on unlicensed construction in settlements and outposts to prevent its demolition. With such a step, Smotrich intends to change the status quo so that the leaders of the military priority operating in the West Bank must explain to Rot, the decisions regarding the demolition of unlicensed buildings, while the decision to demolish such buildings is within the powers of the Commander of the Central Region in the occupation army and approved by the Minister of Security, Yoav Galant in cases where buildings are demolished for security reasons.
According to Haaretz Newspaper, security officials indicate that Smotrich is leading a campaign against the Chief of Staff of the Army, Herzi Halevy, and other officers and security officials, with the aim of putting pressure on them to agree to the appointment of Rot, and transfer broad powers to him. The Newspaper quoted officials in the Israeli security apparatus as saying that Smotrich s plan would lead to a situation in which senior officers in the occupation army would subjocate to civilian authorities, who were appointed for political considerations.
Smotrich demands that Rot s appointment be approved and his powers be expanded by decree and not by legislation at the Knesset, because he realizes that there are political and legal difficulties in approving such a change through a bill. The legal difficulties relate to the fact that such appointments and their consequences represent a violation of international law, as such a step would lead to the transfer of powers related to an area under occupation to a civilian governmental body, in contrast to the current situation where powers are in the hands of the army, which Israel claims is acceptable to the International Community ‘IC’.
In such approach, Smotrich doesn’t give any weight to anyone´-or-even to the fig leaf that the Occupation Authorities use to justify their policy before the ‘IC’, whose positions have become increasingly fed up with the settlement policy of the occupying state and with the acts of violence as well as terrorism practiced by settlers against Palestinian citizens. Assigning the position of Deputy Head of the Civil Administration to a close associate, who lives in a settlement that has become known as a hotbed for Jewish terrorist organizations from ‘price tag’ groups and others, at a time when several countries have begun imposing sanctions on the thugs of these organizations, does not constitute a departure from the norm for this fascist minister, since he assumes his duties in the Ministry of the Army as Minister of Settlement, he has been practicing a policy based on appointing those close to him in sensitive positions to provide protection for extremist settlers.
Rot is a model of this policy, besides other models, such as Yehuda Eliyahu, who is considered the right hand of Minister Smotrich. He is the head of the Settlement Administration in the Ministry of the Army and occupies a position with great influence on government policy regarding settlements and outposts. Eliyahu is as fraudulent, as his Minister Smotrich is. Years ago, he applied for a loan to build a house in the ‘Neria’ settlement, but the construction was in ‘Horsha’, which was at that time an illegal settlement outpost that was legalized as a settlement in 2020, just as Smotrich got a loan in 2017, t buy a plot allocated to him by the Settlement Brigade in “Kedumim” to build a house in that settlement, but he built his house, in violation of the law, in another place, outside the structural plan of the “Kedumim” settlement and on land that was not declared to be state land. Smotrich did not build his house in Kedumim, but in Givat Rashi, in an area without a master plan and on land that was not declared state land, noting that residents of the settlement outposts weren’t able to obtain housing loans without the approval of the settlement brigade and submitting the required documents to the banks.

On another attractive level, settler violence has increased, contrary to the claims of the occupation police that it decreased despite the sanctions imposed by Western countries on a number of terrorist settlers. It has become clear that those settlers do not value these sanctions, as long as they are under the protection of the occupying state. The sanctions, according to the Israeli journalist, Ben Caspit, in an article he wrote in Maariv Newspaper on the 20th of this month, are not imposed on the settlers, at an increasing rate, by more and more countries because of ‘anti-Semitism’ nor because of the slanders of left-wing organizations, but mainly because Americans have lost confidence in the Israeli Government after Netanyahu gave the keys to the Civil Administration in ‘Judea and Samaria’ i.e. the West Bank, to the hands of the biggest arsonists in Israel, who are boycotted by Washington.
Settlers practice organized violence against Palestinians, especially residents of Palestinian Bedouin and herding communities in the Jordan Valley areas, as well as in the mountains of southern Hebron. In the Palestinian Jordan Valley, reports from a number of anti-settlement Israeli civil society organizations intersect with reports from Palestinian bodies and institutions, such as, the National Bureau, and the Wall and Settlement Resisting Commission regarding the occupation authorities imposing harsh living conditions on Palestinian citizens residing in these communities, after reducing the areas of their pastures, depriving them of water, and isolating their areas from the rest of the West Bank.

The Occupation Authorities in coordination between the army, police, settlers and settlement councils, have been for years practicing a policy that restricts the ability of Palestinian communities to continue in a policy of displacement and ethnic cleansing that is taking place silently by closing about 80% of the area of the Jordan Valley, for example, to Palestinians, by defining them as ‘firing zones’´-or-natural reserves´-or-areas of influence belonging to the settlements to justify their refusal to approve building plans in pastoral communities that allow residents to build their homes in accordance with the law, and to connect to water and electricity networks, this at the same time as they allow settlers to establish settlements, settlement outposts, and so-called pastoral farms such as the Shirat Hasbim , Tinah Yarok , Maskiot , Eretz Hashemesh , Nof Gilad , and Goshen farms that were established in the last 10 years, and took over large areas of land exceeding about 57,500 dunums - an area larger than the area of Tel Aviv.

The Occupation Authorities also provide the settlers with all the necessary means of control to expand their settlement outposts and pastoral farms in cooperate with the settlement councils. In this regard, the Jordan Valley Settlements Council allocated a grazing area with an area of about 6,200 dunams, to the ‘Tanah Yarok settlement farm’ belonging to Didi Amousi, who was in the past the security chief in the Rotem settlement, the area of pastures belonging to this settler s farm will expand 16 times the area allocated to it ‘370 dunams’ by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2021. The allocation of these areas deprives the Palestinian communities in the nearby Al-Farisiyah of grazing their livestock in the area extending from the east of St. 578, all the way to St. 90, where they used to graze their livestock for decades.

Since Oct. 7, settlers exploit the brutal war waged by the occupying state on Gaza to control more lands in the region. Very recently, settlers have seized about 4,000 additional dunams and set up barriers to prevent the movement of Palestinians. They have fenced off along St. 90 in the area of the agricultural settlements ‘Nof Gilad’ and ‘Goshen’ and other areas in the Al-Farisiya area and east of St. 578, near the ‘Eretz Shemesh farm’, on the agricultural road leading from St 90 to the ‘Goshen farm’ and on the agricultural road connecting the ‘Miskiot and Rotem settlements’.
Not only this, but the Settlement Division of the occupation s ‘Civil Administration’ decided last week to confiscate 8,000 dunums in the central Jordan Valley after declaring it state land, with the aim of expanding the ‘Bafett settlement’ near the Palestinian Fasayel village, to build hundreds of new housing units and establish an industrial and commercial area.

According to Israeli sources, the Settlement Division in the ‘Civil Administration’, which is under the responsibility of the Minister in the Ministry of the Army, Bezalel Smotrich, planned to confiscate these lands and expand settlement there over the past year. Three weeks ago, this Division announced the confiscation of 2,500 dunams and -convert-ed them to “state land” in the vicinity of the ‘Maale Adumim settlement’, east of occupied Jerusalem, claiming that the confiscation came in response to a shooting attack at the Al-Za’im checkpoint. In response, Smotrich claimed that while the country and the world are seeking to undermine our right to Judea and Samaria and the country in general, we are pushing forward settlement work hard and strategically throughout the country.

Within the context, violence practiced by settlers in general and by terrorists in settlement outposts and so-called pastoral farms in particular has become part of the routine life of these communities. Settlers violence takes many forms: raids with small tractors´-or-horses, running over livestock, grazing their herds in Palestinian fields, sabotaging agricultural crops, storming gathering areas in night robberies, stealing livestock, and sabotaging and burning property.
A significant increase has been noticed in the number of settler attacks since the Oct. 7, including the use of firearms that Ben Gvir distributed to the settlers, which now constitute a real danger to the lives of Palestinians, after Smotrich and Ben Gvir provided the necessary protection, each in his own way, for those settlers from accountability for their crimes, which escalate year after year until the number of their victims since the formation of the neo-Nazi government, reached about 24 Palestinian citizens, the last of whom was the martyr Fakher Bani Jaber, 43 from the Aqraba town, Nablus, shot in the chest by armed settlers.

List of Israeli Assaults over the Last Week Documented by the National Bureau:
• Placing incitement posters on the headquarters of the UNRWA in the Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood, threatening workers.
• Sending a letter by the deputy mayor of the occupation in Jerusalem, Aryeh King, to the Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, asking him to evacuate the its headquarters in the Sheikh Jarrah, and the Qalandiya Training College, north of the city.
• Installing surveillance devices above Al-Mutahhara Gate, iron cages near the doors, barbed wires, and iron barriers near Lions Gate, to restrict the movement of worshippers.
• Carrying out provocative tours in Al-Aqsa, received explanations about the alleged ‘temple’, and performed Talmudic rituals at the courtyards of the holy Mosque near Bab al-Silsilah.
• Demolishing the Solid waste Station belonging to the municipality of al-Ram, that was built on the lands of the neighboring town of Jaba’ 35 years ago on a land area of 3 dunams, they leveled the place to the ground, demolished the walls, barracks and existing equipment, swept away the paved land, and turned the place into a destroyed area.
• Hindering worshipers’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and provoked them
• Attacking a number of shepherds and prevented them from accessing pastures in the Al-Ain Al-Bayda area in Masafer Yatta, and destroyed large areas of agricultural crops, a 14-year-old child sustained bruises as a result of that,
• Destroying large areas of wheat and barley crops in the ‘Rajum Aly area’, which belongs to a number of citizens. Moreover, they brought their herds into the citizens’ fields and destroyed them.
• Storming the Berin village, Hebron, raided the village school, and took down the Palestinian flag and tore it up, closed a number of side roads in several neighborhoods of the town with barbed wire, specifically in the Jaber and Al-Salaymeh Neighborhoods, and near the so-called Military Checkpoint 160.
• Bulldozing 15 dunums and uprooted 150 old olive trees, near the Housat village to expand settlement road n. 60, which extends from the main western entrance to the villages of the western countryside all the way to Husan.
• Notifying the Cremisan Mixed School in the ‘Abu Bakir’ to pay the ‘Arnona’ property tax.
• Seizing 150 dunums from the Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem area near the ‘Alazar’ settlement, planted with vine seedlings and almonds, in preparation for annexing it to the borders of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem. Mayor of the Beit Jala Municipality, Issa Qassis, said that the Cremisan area is located within the structural plan of the Beit Jala Municipality, and is provided with lighting and water services, adding this unjust decision comes to plunder more lands and annex them to the borders of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem.
• Cutting down a number of olive, almond, vine, and fig trees from the four-dunum land of citizen Ahed Mahmoud Odeh in the town of Qasra, south of Nablus. They also demolished an agricultural room, uprooted the fence around it, destroyed retaining walls, and stole a plowing tool.
• Opening fire at citizens in the Hawwarah town, and threatened in loud voices to fire bullets at anyone threre.
• Attacking citizens homes on the outskirts of the Burin village, throwing stones at them, and shooting live bullets in the air, while others attacked the Ein-Duma community and threatened residents with expulsion from the area, and in Asira al-Qibliya, settlers from the ‘Yitzhar’ settlement attacked a house belonging to the al-Hindi family in the area of the bridge connecting the villages of Burin and Madama, and smashed its windows and a number of citizens vehicles.
• Moreover, to the east of the city of Nablus, a number of settlers attacked Bedouin families in the Sukhn area and prevented them from grazing their sheep in the pastures. They also denied them water, which forced 5 Palestinian families, at gunpoint to leave the community that was inhabited since the 1970s. they also attacked citizens’ homes in the village of Madama, and began firing live bullets in the area, and threw stones at citizens’ vehicle, causing damage to some of them.
• Assaulting citizen, Abdul-Jabbar Sadiq Abdo, by beating him and burning his vehicle while he was on his land between the towns of Burqa and Beit Amrin in the Al-Dalba area, and attacked the bulldozer that was working in the land and caused damage to it.
• Assaulting shepherds from the Al-Azazma family, injuring 2 of them with bruises, destroyed their communication devices, and stole 40 sheep in the “Al-Matwi” area, west of Salfeet.
• Demolishing an agricultural room belonging to citizen. Youssef Suleiman Salman in the Derestia town, and stole its contents, broke its solar lighting..
• Demolishing 7 facilities in the town of Barta’a, northwest of Jenin, 4 for sheep, 2 for livestock, and 2 warehouses for goods, in addition to 3 container, and cages containing 200 birds inside, covering an area of 250m2, as well as a sheepfold belonging to citizen Mahmoud Qabha.
Jordan Valley:
• Demolishing 2 houses in the Airport area, east of the city of Jericho, one of which belongs to the 2 brothers Zaki and Shaher Zaytoun from Silwan, and the other to Zaghloul Shweiki from Jerusalem, and the walls of houses belongs to Mar’ family, from Beit Jala, and Al-Rabadi from Jerusalem. Knowing that the occupation authorities carried out dozens of demolition operations in the area, and notified the demolition of dozens of homes there under the pretext that it falls within areas C.
• Seizing 20 residential houses in the ‘Al-Ma’rajat Road’ by force, after displacing the Ka’bna Arabs from them, in Nov. 2023.

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