ISRAELI forces on Saturday night notified the families of three alleged Palestinian attackers of their intention to demolish their houses across the occupied West Bank.
The Palestine Prisoners’ Society (PPS) confirmed that Israeli forces broke into the family house of Mohammad Walid Hanatsheh in Attira neighbourhood of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and handed the family a military order to demolish their house.
Forces also handed the family of Yazan Mghamas a military order to demolish their house in a raid in Birzeit town, located to the north of Ramallah.
Hanatsheh and Mghamas, are currently in Israeli custody for their alleged involvement along with Samer Arbeed in the killing of an Israeli settler back near the illegal colonial settlement of Dolev, located near the Palestinian village of Ras Karkar, in August 2019.
Arbeed was hospitalised in critical condition for 45 days after undergoing interrogation with the Israeli internal security agency, the Shin Bet, for his so-called involvement in the settler’s killing.
Meanwhile, Israeli military handed a similar demolition order to the family of Mahmoud Atawneh in Beit Kahel town, northwest of Hebron.
Kamel Atawneh told WAFA that soldiers wreaked havoc into his 140-metre-sized house, and took photos and measurements for it in preparation for the planned punitive demolition.
Atawneh’s son, Mahmoud, who is currently in Israeli custody, is accused of allegedly stabbing a settler at the Gush Etzion colonial settlement block, south of Bethlehem, in July 2019.
Israel resorts to punitively demolishing the family homes of Palestinians as a mean of deterrence to those accused of being involved in attacks against Israelis, a policy that Israel does not apply to Israeli settlers who were involved in fatal attacks against Palestinians.
The policy is widely condemned by human rights groups as ‘a collective punishment’ and ‘a war crime and crime against humanity’.
• The latest spate of Palestinian structure demolitions across the occupied West Bank and the Israeli announcement on the development of plans for the effective annexation of West Bank Area C dominated the front page headlines in Friday’s issue of the dailies.
The dailies reported that Israeli occupation authorities dismantled and seized a shack on the main access road to Ras Karkar village, located to the west of Ramallah.
Al-Hayat al-Jadida added that Israeli occupation authorities forced two Palestinians from Jerusalem to demolish their own houses in Jabal al-Mukabbir, displacing their families composed of 15 members.
While structure demolitions featured as the main news item in al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida, the Israeli plan for the effective annexation of Area C, which accounts for 60 per cent of the occupied West Bank, hit the front page headlines in al-Quds.
Al-Quds printed a headline reading: Following are the details of Israeli ‘Defence’ Minister Naftali Bennett’s plan to consolidate Israeli occupation’s sovereignty over Area C.
It elaborated that the plan would allow settlers to seize privately owned Palestinian land, construct more colonial settlements and legitimise unauthorised colonial settlement outposts.
The plan would also allow settlers to privately purchase land in the West Bank, and prevent the demolition of settler units.
The dailies spotlighted international condemnations of Israel’s plans to expand its colonial settlements.
The European Union (EU) was reported in al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida urging Israel to ‘fully comply with international law’ and ‘end all settlement activity on occupied territories’.
The EU was also reported calling on Israel to stop and prevent ‘violence by settlers on Palestinian civilians and their property’.
It was also reported stressing that it ‘will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides’.
Al-Hayat al-Jadida also reported the Palestinian government and various political factions slamming Bennett’s remarks on the expansion of colonial settlements as a war crime.
Al-Ayyam reported spokesperson for German Foreign Affairs Ministry slamming the construction of Israeli colonial settlements in the Palestinian territories as ‘illegal under international law and as a major obstacle to the possibility of a two-state solution’.
The dailies said that classes at Birzeit University were scheduled to resume on Saturday, January 11, following a conflict that paralysed academic life at the university campus.
According to the dailies, President Mahmoud Abbas received the winners of Palestine’s Literature, Arts and Humanities Award.
The dailies said that Israeli forces conducted multiple raids across the West Bank, resulting in the detention of eight Palestinians.
Al-Quds printed a feature about the so-called Hilltop Youth, a group of young devoutly religious Israeli settlers who have gained international notoriety for being on the vanguard of Palestinian dispossession and racism.
The title of the feature story read: ‘The “Hilltop Youth” pave the way to the annexation by Israel of 1.25 million dunams of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley.’
The Palestinian Health Ministry was reported in al-Ayyam, announcing that five people have died in Palestine of H1N1 flu virus since the start of the winter season in September.
Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat was reported in al-Ayyam that the presidential decree on elections will not be issued until Israel pledges not to obstruct elections in Jerusalem.
Member of the Fatah Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad was reported in al-Hayat al-Jadida stating that the PLO Executive Committee was in permanent session to confront the challenges and noting the PLO’s seriousness to hold elections.
- The European Union has criticised Israeli plans to expand settlement activities across the occupied Palestinian territories, calling on the Tel Aviv regime to comply with international law that deems such structures as illegal.
‘The European Union reiterates its clear position that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the so-called two-state solution, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334,’ an unnamed EU spokesperson said last Thursday.
The official called on Israel ‘to fully comply with international law, end all settlement activity on occupied territories and related actions’, stressing that the 28-member political and economic bloc ‘will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem al-Quds, other than those agreed by both sides’.
The EU spokesperson also denounced violent attacks being carried out by extremist Jewish settlers against the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories.
‘Violence by settlers on Palestinian civilians and their property has to be stopped and prevented,’ the statement read.
The UN says Israel has advanced or approved plans for over 22,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank.
The European Union then reiterated its support for the resumption of ‘a meaningful process’ towards the so-called two-state solution, which it described as ‘the only realistic and viable way’ to fulfil the aspirations of both sides.
Meanwhile, Germany has denounced the Israeli regime’s recent plans to build some 2,000 settler units in the occupied West Bank, stressing that settlements are illegal under international law.
Israeli authorities have demolished at least 300 Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds in 2019, a Palestinian official says.
‘We have noted with great concern the Israeli authorities’ decisions to further expand settlements in the West Bank. The German government calls on those involved to refrain from taking any steps that would further hinder a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East,’ a spokesman for the German Federal Foreign Office said in a statement.
The spokesperson added: ‘Like its partners in the European Union, the German government regards the building of settlements in the Palestinian territories as illegal under international law and as a major obstacle to the possibility of a two-state solution to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.’
Earlier this week, the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now said Israeli authorities had approved the construction of 1,950 new settler homes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Peace Now said that nearly 800 housing units received the final approvals needed for construction to begin, while initial approvals were given for an additional 1,150 homes.
The OCHA (UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) has said Israeli authorities have demolished or confiscated 617 Palestinian buildings in the West Bank since the beginning of the current year.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council in December 2016 adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to ‘immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem’ al-Quds.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.