2023 / 9 / 5
By: Madeeha Al-A’raj
National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements stated in its latest weekly report , that ,in an interview with the Israeli Radio ‘Kan’, former Maj. Gen. in the reserves,deputy chief of the Mossad and commander of the Northern Commandin the occupation army,Amiram Levin said, ‘the Israeli army is a partner in war crimes through profound transformations taking place in its ranks that remind of transformations happened in the Nazi Germany. Hemeant by that the increasing numbers of settlers in the Israeli army and the transformation of their leaders into central ministers in the current government.
Levin’s statements opened doors on the position the settlers occupy in the occupation army, especially after the events that took place in thetowns of Hawara, Turmusaya, Um Safa and Borqa in the Nablus and Ramallah - Al-BirehGovernoratesrecently i.e. acts of bullying, burning property, appropriation of the lands of Palestinian citizens through settlement outposts and the so-called pastoral settlements as well as the displacement of Bedouin communities from their areas, events that have become an indication of the nature of the relationship between the settlers and the occupation army, as it has become clear that the army is -function-ally subordinate to the General Staff and the so-called Central Region Command, but implement it in practical in accordance tosome Israeli estimatesof settlers and their rabbis due to the enrollment of large numbers of settlers in the occupation army, and their increasing influence in security services that are no longer, as before, subject to the command of the army.
On one hand, there is the regular army and the Central Region Command, who reports -dir-ectly to the General Staff, and on the other hand, there is the so-called ‘police army’ which consists of several security services operating in paralleln the West Bank, and includes the Police Border Gguards, and security forcespn charge of protection of the perimeter of the settlements, knowing that such forces exist at the level of the settlement and/or the settlement council, but don’t report -dir-ectly to the army, but rather to the settlement council.
Themost dangerous formations operating in the West Bank are the ‘Judea and Samaria’ division, that was established in 1988 to suppress the stones’ uprising, which began at the end of 1987, and the ‘Kfir Brigade,’ founded in 2005 and consisted of 13 battalions working with other reserve battalions in the West Bank with dual tasks, brutal suppression of the Palestinians and protection for the settlers. The ‘Judea and Samaria’ division, commanded by Brigadier General AviBalutmanages most of the military activities in the West Bank.
Accordingto Israeli estimates, the division is slowly turning into a group of settlers, who describe ‘Balot’ as one of their group as he grew up in the ‘NeveZuf settlement’, north of the Ramallah city, and was educated at the ‘Eli Religious School’, south of the city of Nablus. He describes the Palestinians here as the ‘Amalekites’ of the legends of the books of the Torah, who must be killed.
The Kfir Brigade is also very close to the settlers. It is an army brigade that includes six battalions distributed throughout the various governorates of the West Bank. Theoretically, this brigade is subordinate to the army command and staff, but in practice matters are more complicated due to the overlapping relationships between the brigade and the settlers, such that the influence of the settlers is much greater than the influence of the general staff, especially since most of the brigade’s bases are spread either within the settlements´-or-in their vicinity, and thus the soldiers and officers carry out daily interaction.
Settlersspend the night with them and celebrate their occasions, as confirmed by Israeli circles, ElorAzaria is a member of this brigadethat opened fire on Palestinian citizen Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif while he was wounded and lying on the ground in 2016.
The Paramilitary formations ‘militias’ affiliated with the settlers intersect with the Kfir Brigade, as is the case with the so-called ‘settlement readiness row,’ a military group made up of residents of each settlement, whose -function- is to build semi-regular military cells that undertake army work in the period of time that it occurs between the occurrence of a security event in the vicinity of the settlement and the arrival of regular army forces to the place.
In addition, most of the soldiers and officers of the Kfir Brigade working in the West Bank are graduates of preparatory military colleges operating in the settlements´-or-they joined the army after recruitment campaigns carried out by the settlements to supplement the army with soldiers from the settler community. Indeed, under the guidance of the settler community and their rabbis, the settlers’ desire to join the army is increasing.
Out of every 5 towns that have had the highest rates of recruitment into combat units, 3 were in the West Bank. BeitEil s first base was in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate, where 86% of men born in 1991 served in combat units. 3rdplace went to Ephrata in Gush Etzion in the Bethlehem Governorate, where 81% of men born in 1991 joined combat units, while the 4thplace went to the Mount Hebron Regional Council with a rate of 78.4%. Ariel in Salfeet Governorate, which is considered a secular settlement with questionable Jewish residents, was one of four cities in which the percentage of con-script-s exceeded 90%.
Moreover, they have political references led by religious Zionist leaders who are imbued with an extremist biblical ideological spirit, such as, Smotrich, Ben Gvir, and other members of the government and the Knesset, who constitute about 12% i.e. 120 members. In addition to the political references, there are also spiritual references with quite a few leaders. Rabbismost notably Rabbi HaimDruckman, one of the most prominent religious and spiritual authorities ‘he died in December 2022’ and Rabbi DovLior, the chief rabbi of the QiryatArba settlement, to whom the Regional Council of Settlements in the southern Hebron Governorate granted a certificate of appreciation for his extremist positions, and Rabbi Isaac Geisenberg, who runs a school. OudYosef Chai in the Yitzhar settlement, and Rabbi ZalmanMelamed. one of the senior rabbis of religious Zionism, who incited his students in the KarneiShomron settlement to steal the olive crop from the Palestinians and issued a fatwa permitting the poisoning of the wells from which the Palestinians drink ‘Maariv 22,7,2015’. and other rabbis, such as EliezerRabinovich, ShlomoAviner, and the Chief Rabbi of Samaria, ElyakimLevanon, who permit the “Hill Youth” and “Pay Price” terrorist, occupy crossroads, engage in orgies, and attack Palestinian citizens.
A study prepared by the Department of Social Sciences at the Israeli Bar-Ilan University known for its religious orientations, revealed the extent to which religious recruits obey the orders of the rabbis, as more than 90% of those who describe themselves as religious believe that if the steps taken by the Israeli government conflict with the opinion of Rabbis, the first is to apply the opinion of the rabbis, and more than 95% of the religious soldiers confirmed that they cannot obey military orders issued to them without them being consistent with the religious fatwas issued by the rabbis and religious authorities.
As for the settlement scene on the ground, the statements of the far-right and fascist Israeli Minister of National Security, Ben Gvir, came last week in which he said that the freedom of movement of himself, his children, and his wife in the West Bank is more important than the freedom of movement of Arabs and Palestinians. His statements caused a huge uproar and angry reactions that resonated even in Washington. In fact, Ben Gvir was not concerned with his person and his family as much as he was concerned with the freedom of movement of the settlers, including the terrorist thugs “Hill Youth”, “PayPrice” and other Jewish terrorist organizations in the settlements, outposts and the so-called pastoral farms.
Such statements were adopted and defended by PM Netanyahu, albeit with ambiguous words. Netanyahu replaced freedom of movement with freedom of life in language that is not devoid of racist tendencies, giving the settler freedom of movement and life while depriving it of the Palestinian citizen, who, if he moves to defend his land, becomes a riot in the country. Best of times, what was stated by both Ben Gvir and Netanyahu reflects the essence of the Zionist movement’s racist position. There is no room for equality. The settler’s freedom of movement´-or-life derives its legitimacy from the idea of Jewish superiority, from apartheid, which the settler community in the West Bank sees as a privilege. In the West Bank, about 23 military battalions are deployed ‘the Judea and Samaria Division, the Kfir Brigade, and a number of reserve battalions, which are called upon when needed’ to secure the freedom of movement and life of the settlers.
This is not enough for the fascist Ben Gvir, and so he gave his instructions to facilitate the settlers’ access to licensed weapons. Knowing that the number of settlers carrying weapons increased from 150,000 - 165,000 during the first 6 months of this year. Within the context, Smotrichsupported his fellow fascist Ben Gvir and launched a sharp attack on the American Administration accusing officials in Washington of “hypocrisy,” and reminded them of how they behaved in Afghanistan and Iraq, stressing that he would not allow the administration to provide the occupation army´-or-the political level with sermons about morality related to human rights.
Settlement Minister at the Army Ministry, Smotrich, is of course not far from developments in the settlement scene. Under the pressure of this minister, the Israeli government decided on August 27, 2023 to allocate lands to the ‘Mevoot Jericho’ and ‘Amichai’ settlements, through the Settlements Department, which was established by the Israeli government -dir-ectly after its occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war, and it operates as a non-governmental body whose -function- is to assist In building settlements, outposts, and agricultural farms in the occupied territories.
Smotrich looks forward to carrying out preparatory work to simplify how land is allocated in the West Bank, including allotment and leasing rights for settlers. In this context, the Israeli ‘B Tselem’ organization said that there are currently scores of agricultural farms spread across the West Bank, collectively controlling tens of thousands of dunams of land under the control of the Settlement Division. They are handed over to settlers without supervision, and that Smotrich seeks to formalize the Settlement Division, theofficial entity responsible for allocating lands to settlers in the context of its political project known that the Settlement Division is -dir-ectly involved in the seizure of private Palestinian lands, and it continues to help settlers seize vast lands without public bids and behind closed doors.
In addition to Smotrich and Ben Gvir, the far-right Likud Minister of Transportation, MiriRegev had a presence in the settlement scene. In a showy and provocative move, last Wednesday, hetoured the settlement bypass road around the town of Huwara, south of the city of Nablus, accompanied by Yossi Dagan, head of the settlement council in the northern West Bank. The two announced that the opening date of the first and main section of the road would be brought forward by 2 months, and it is considered a bypass.
Huwara is one of the 8 most important and dangerous bypass roads that the occupation authorities decided to build under pressure from settlers and settlement councils over the past years to connect the so-called isolated settlements to the Israeli interior without passing through areas of Palestinian communities and towns. Work on building theroads was taking place slowly, but the situation has changed since the rise of fascism in Israel to power after the recent elections to the Knesset. They operate with two lanes, about seven and a half kilometers long, and three intersections, at a cost of about NIS 380 million. The second section up to the Taffouh crossroads is expected to open at the end of this year.
Returning to the lies of the five-year plan to develop East Jerusalem, which was recently approved by the occupation government, the occupation municipality crews and the so-called Israeli “Nature Authority” last weekend notified the citizens in the towns of Al-Isawiya and Al-Tur of its decision to confiscate large areas of the two towns’ lands to establish the so-called “national park.” On the slopes of Mount Scopus, on an area of about 730 dunums, it is the area separating the “MaaleAdumim” settlement and the tunnel road near the Hebrew University.
The area covered by this plan partly planted with fig, olive and almond trees, was often subjected to bulldozing operations carried out by the occupation authorities. The plan to establish this project is not new, as it dates back to previous years and went through stages before it was approved in 2013 by the “District Committee for Planning and Construction” affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior of the occupying state, but it was frozen after a series of objections submitted by the people and institutions of the two towns, and it was kept in the drawers of the Ministry of Interior for the right time. Moreover, the committee gave the people of the two towns 54 days to submit their objections to the plan, which has once again returned to the forefront of developments, establishing such a project would besiege both Al-Issawiya and Al-Tur, preventing their development and urban expansion, and solving the problems of construction and housing there. In this regard, Hani Al-Issawi, a member of the Issawiya Land Defense Committee said, ‘the people will coordinate their steps with the people in Al-Tur and submit objections to the project in order to stop it.
Within the context, the occupation launched a Judaization project on Al-Hamra land, as part of 13 Judaization projects in the surrounding area of Al-Aqsa, which the occupation authorities consider part of the “Holy Basin.” This Al-Hamra land has an area of more than 5 dunums, and is about 300 meters away from the western wall of Jerusalem. It is located at an important crossroads leading to WadiHilweh and Rababa in Silwan. The occupation recently opened the bridge in Wadi Al-Rababa, near Al-Hamra Land. The National National Bureau, in a previous report titled “An Israeli Five-Year Plan in the Service of Judaization, Israelization, and Deepening Settlement in East Jerusalem,” clarified that that plan had overlooked what is more dangerous in the context of the policy of Judaization, Israelization, and silent displacement, through the expansion of settlement and Judaization activities as a plan, by allocating NIS 230 million to complete the American road´-or-what is known as the Eastern Ring Road in East Jerusalem and withholding from public opinion that this road encroaches on hundreds of dunams of the lands of Al-Eizariya, Al-Sawahra, Abu Dis, Al-Tur, Sheikh Sa’d, Jabal Al-Mukaber and Sur Baher.
On the other hand, Palestinian Bedouin communities in the West Bank are still exposed to attacks by settlers and their terrorist organizations, especially those whose activities have expanded under the current government in building what they call “pastoral farms.” These communities are threatened by uprooting and forced displacement with the aim of controlling wider areas. A possible area of Palestinian land in Area C in accordance with the agreements signed between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, known as the ‘Oslo Accords’.
Settler thugs of the “pastoral farms” of the “Hill Youth” and ‘Pay Price’ have put on their agenda, supported and protected by the occupation army, a policy of ethnic cleansing whichits borders do not stop at AinSamia, Al-Qaboun, RasAl-Tin and Al-Baqa’a, but extend to Al-Rashrash, Ma’rajat Al-Taybeh, Abu Faza, Al-Malihat, Wadi Al-Siq, Al-Marj, Ras Al-Marajat, and other areas, especially in the central and northern Jordan Valley, which are inhabited by these Bedouin communities, which prompted Al-Baidar Organization for Defending Bedouin Rights at the end of last week to send an urgent distress call to protect these communities from danger. The policy of uprooting, forced displacement, and ethnic cleansing practiced by the occupation authorities through their tools operating in settlement outposts and so-called ‘pastoral farms’