Israeli border police stand by as a bulldozer destroys yet another Palestinian building in the West Bank. Bi-weekly reports from the UN paint a chilling picture of Palestinians being killed, farmers beaten, children arrested, sheep poisoned, and houses destroyed, by Israeli settlers and the Israeli military. Canadian media, and the Canadian government, all but ignore a campaign of ethnic cleansing that is taking take place just under the radar. If you think “ethnic cleansing” is too strong a word, read more and suggest another word…
Canadian parliamentarians and editorialists have recently been very vocal about human rights abuses in China. They have even proposed to boycott China’s Olympic Games. But they seem to be ignoring reports coming from various credible sources that Israel and Israel settlers are currently carrying out massive human rights abuses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Those abuses rarely make it into Canadian media, and Canadian parliamentarians seem blissfully unaware. But it is real nonetheless.
One impeccable source of information is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA is headquartered in Geneva, and has has staff and offices in nineteen “hot spots” around the world, including in the occupied Palestinian territories, where it monitors the situation. Among other things, its Jerusalem staff publish a report on the situation every two weeks.
Below is ONE recent OCHA report citing 12 separate incidents involving abuses of hundreds of Palestinians over ONE 14 DAY PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 2 TO FEBRUARY 15, 2021. The wording is clinical, but the content is disturbing.
- On 5 February, an Israeli settler shot and killed a 34-year-old Palestinian near a newly-constructed settlement outpost next to the village of Ras Karkar (Ramallah); Israeli military sources said that he had tried to break into a house in the outpost. Subsequent clashes in his village (Ras Karkar) resulted in the injury of one Palestinian and one Israeli soldier.
- Another Palestinian, aged 25, was killed in Nuba (Hebron), when an unexploded ordnance he found near his house exploded.
- Seventy-one Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers were injured in clashes across the West Bank.
- Thirty of the Palestinian injuries were treated for tear gas inhalation on 12 February, in a protest against demolitions and confiscations in Humsa – Al Bqai’a.
- Twenty-seven Palestinians were injured in protests against the establishment of three settlement outposts on land belonging to residents of Kafr Malik, Deir Jarir, Ras at Tin, and Al Mughayyir, in Ramallah, and another one on Beit Dajan land in Nablus, and against settlement expansion in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) and Salfit.
- Seven Palestinians were injured in clashes that erupted during search-and-arrest operations in the refugee camps of Ad Duheisha (Bethlehem) and Jenin, and in Jaba’ village (also in Jenin).
- Another three were injured while reportedly attempting to cross into Israel through breaches in the Barrier in the Jenin area.
- Two were injured after Israeli forces intervened during clashes with Israeli settlers in Al Lubban ash Sharqiya (Nablus), and two others in unclear circumstances, near Silwad village (Ramallah).
- Fifty-one of those injured were treated for tear gas inhalation, ten were hit by rubber bullets, six were shot by live ammunition and the remaining five were physically assaulted or hit by tear gas canisters. Four Israeli soldiers were injured during a search-and-arrest operation in Beituniya (Ramallah).
- Israeli forces carried out 186 search-and-arrest operations and arrested 172 Palestinians across the West Bank. The governorates of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Hebron were the most affected (on average 28 operations each). In one of the incidents, in Hebron, Israeli forces raided the city hall and detained employees who worked on the night shift; doors and furniture were reportedly broken.
- In Gaza, on at least 28 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near the perimeter fence on the border, or off the coast, presumably to enforce access restrictions. On another three occasions, Israeli forces conducted land levelling near the fence.
- Citing the lack of building permits, 89 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized, displacing 146 people, of whom 83 were children, and otherwise affecting at least 330. On 3 and 8 February, the Israeli authorities demolished 37 structures, most of which were donated, in Humsa – Al Bqai’a community in the Jordan Valley. Sixty people, including 35 children, were displaced on each occasion.
- In addition, the Israeli authorities demolished, on punitive basis, a home in Tura al Gharbiya village (Jenin), displacing 11 people, including four children. The house belonged to the family of a Palestinian who was indicted for killing an Israeli woman in December. Last year, seven structures were demolished on similar grounds.
- The Israeli authorities uprooted 1,000 saplings near the city of Tubas, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. They were planted in response to the uprooting of thousands of trees last month in the same area, on the grounds that the land had been declared ‘state land.’
- Perpetrators known or believed to be Israeli settlers injured four Palestinians, including a child, and damaged Palestinian-owned properties, including trees. Three Palestinians were physically assaulted in two separate clashes with Israeli settlers in the village of Al Lubban ash Sharqiya (Nablus). A boy, aged 13, was physically assaulted in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2).
- A foreign volunteer was stoned and injured in Susiya village (Hebron), and other foreign and local volunteers were attacked and robbed in As Samu’ village by perpetrators believed to be settlers. According to Palestinian sources, over 130 olive trees and saplings were uprooted or cut down in the communities of Khirbet Sarra (Nablus), Bruqin and Kafr ad Dik (Salfit), in At Tuwani and Bir al ‘Idd (Hebron), and in Al Janiya (Ramallah).
- Some 180 fence poles were stolen in Bruqin. In addition, an agricultural structure was damaged in Beit Dajan and a vehicle was set on fire in Qusra (both in Nablus). Another vehicle was stoned and damaged while travelling near Bet El settlement (Ramallah).
- In Qawawis, a shepherd reported the death of seven of his sheep from poisonous material that he believes had been sprayed by settlers from the nearby Mitzpe Yair settlement who, he says, repeatedly attack him while he grazes his sheep. In another incident in the area of Ein ar Rashrash in Ramallah, a shepherd reported that a vehicle believed to be driven by settlers had hit and killed two of his sheep. Perpetrators believed to be Israeli settlers reportedly damaged a surveillance camera and a lock in the Romanian Orthodox Church in East Jerusalem.
- Two Israelis, including a 14-year-old girl and a woman, were injured by perpetrators believed to be Palestinians while travelling on West Bank roads, according to Israeli sources. Thirty Israeli-plated vehicles were reportedly damaged, mainly when hit by stones.
What can you do?
If you have the stomach for it, you can subscribe to the full series of OCHA reports which are mailed every two weeks.
If you are concerned about human rights abuses committed by Israeli forces in the West Bank you could forward this article to your friends and to your own Member of Parliament. You could also include a link to the OCHA site so they could be better informed about future abuses.
You might point out that most of the same parliamentarians who voted in favour of boycotting China’s Olympic Games for its alleged human rights abuses, also voted in 2016 to condemn a boycott of Israel called BDS launched over Israel’s human rights abuses, on the grounds that doing so is “anti-Semitic”.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.