|The News Line: Feature
Friday, 3 March 2017
SETTLER KILLS PALESTINIAN YOUTH IN HEBRON
A YOUNG Palestinian man was shot and killed by an Israeli settler in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Wednesday afternoon.
The Israeli army claimed that an ‘attacker armed with a knife entered a house’ in the illegal settlement outpost of Havat More in the Masafer Yatta area – also known as the South Hebron Hills – and stabbed a settler, injuring him lightly.
The settler then shot towards the Palestinian, the spokesperson added, killing him. The spokesperson said that they were not aware of whether the Israeli army was investigating the case.
A relative said that the slain Palestinian was 25-year-old Saadi Mahmoud Ali Qaisiya, from the village of al-Dhahiriya west of Masafer Yatta. Qaisiya is the tenth Palestinian to have been killed by an Israeli since the beginning of the year.
Six Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period. The Masafer Yatta area is one of a number of tracts of land in the West Bank to have been declared a ‘firing zone’ in the 1970s.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palestinians are prohibited from entering these areas without rarely granted permission from Israeli authorities, which has had ‘a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses’.
Masafer Yatta residents were expelled at the time of the establishment of the firing zone and eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of demolition or being expelled. Meanwhile, the presence of around 3,000 Israeli settlers illegally living in the area has restricted Palestinian growth over the past decade while the Israeli authorities reallocate local resources for settlement expansion.
Elsewhere, Israeli forces closed entrances of the village of Marda in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Wednesday evening, preventing Palestinian vehicles and citizens from leaving or entering the area. Israeli forces closed the iron gates installed at the entrances of Marda by Israeli authorities in 2000 when the Second Intifada broke out across the occupied Palestinian territory.
Locals said that Israeli forces closed the gates after Israeli forces claimed that residents of the area threw stones at Israeli settler cars passing Abir al-Samra street near the village. Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to arbitrary road closures by Israeli military forces for purported ‘security reasons’, an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.
Closures in Salfit were implemented at least twice last month in the villages of al-Zawiya and Qarawat Bani Hassan. Israeli forces also raided Qarawat Bani Hassan on at least one occasion in response to allegations of local Palestinian youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Netafim.
Three Palestinian minors from the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem are scheduled to be indicted by an Israeli military court for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli armed forces, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police had completed their investigation into the case of the three ‘minors’ from the camp who ‘are suspected of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails’ at Israeli border guard forces on a highway.
‘Investigations revealed that the three went to a gas station in their area after they finished a school day and prepared Molotov cocktails, which they later threw at Israeli soldiers who managed to detain them,’ al-Samri said, adding that a Molotov cocktail was found in the school bag of one of the minors. The identity of the three remained unknown.
Israeli authorities have dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, detaining hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, ‘93 per cent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.’ However, Palestinians have claimed that rock throwing by teenagers represents a natural reaction to the frustrations caused by the nearly half-century Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been shaped by everyday forms of violence, such as nightly military raids into Palestinian communities, arbitrary detentions, home demolitions, and frequent killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces conducted heightened searches of Palestinian vehicles at the Container checkpoint in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday evening, causing major traffic jams. Israeli forces started suddenly stopping vehicles, searching them and checking the passengers’ ID cards for unknown reasons.
The Container checkpoint, located northeast of Bethlehem near the Wadi Nar canyon east of al-Sawahira al-Sharqiya village, is on the only major road open to Palestinians that connects the southern West Bank regions of Hebron and Bethlehem to the central and northern West Bank. Although there are numerous other roads available to Jewish settlers to move between the two regions, for Palestinians the road is a crucial north-south link, and checkpoint closures can cause delays of many hours for Palestinian commuters.
• Israeli forces demolished a building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya on Wednesday morning without giving prior warning, leaving 30 Palestinians homeless, under the pretext that the building lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits required by Israeli authorities. It was the third time the building – a two-level apartment comprised of four units – was destroyed over the course of a 15-year administrative battle to legalise the structure.
Dozens of Israeli special forces, bulldozers, and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality raided Issawiya at around 4.30am and surrounded the building, owned by Khalid Nimr Mahmoud. Witnesses said residents of the building were forced outside before they had time to evacuate their belongings.
Municipality crews had evacuated some of the building’s contents before bulldozers carried out the demolition on top of piles of furniture and other belongings that were ruined under the pouring rain. Mahmoud said Israel repeatedly refused to issue licenses for the building, saying that he began the administrative battle to legalise his home in 2002.
Mahmoud said that sessions were held in the Jerusalem magistrate’s court in recent days to postpone the demolition, but judges ordered it to be carried out anyway and ruled against any further postponements. He said that the municipality rejected a final appeal against the demolition on Tuesday, but did not give a specific date for the actual demolition.
As a result, the Mahmoud family and the others living in the building were completely surprised and unprepared to lose their home the following morning. According to Mahmoud, Israeli bulldozers first demolished the building in 2002, and returned to demolish it again in 2003. The Jerusalem resident rebuilt the home again, where he lived with his family, his daughter’s family, the family of Omar Naim Kastero, and the family of Atta Dirbas – a total of 30 individuals, including four children.
Mahmoud said that he was still paying off a fine of 75,000 shekels (approximately $20,570) to the municipality for the most recent building violations, in addition to the 20,000-shekel (approximately $5,485) fine that was imposed in 2002. Member of a local follow-up committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus confirmed that the municipality has been rejecting structural maps presented by locals for the building’s expansion for 15 years.
Abu al-Hummus said that Israeli authorities were enacting ‘revenge’ on Palestinians in the occupied territory and inside Israel through home demolitions, to appease the ‘extremist right-wing’ Israeli public, especially after the evacuation of the illegal Amona outpost.
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