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All Of It

June 7, 2022


[Israeli Government Press Office]

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a surprise attack on Jordan, which since 1948 had governed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and on its neighboring allies, Egypt and Syria.

In just six days, Israeli forces seized all of Palestine and then some, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria’s Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula clear to the Red Sea, and 300,000 more Palestinians fled to Jordan and Lebanon.

Palestinians call this “Naksa,” a “setback,” far too benign a word for what followed.

West Bank

Israel immediately began building Jewish settlements on the West Bank in violation of international law – the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits a state from settling its own citizens on land taken in war – and multiple U.N. resolutions.

Today there are 230 settlements and 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Colonization on a massive scale.

“Settlement” is a very misleading misnomer, suggesting RV encampments in the outback; in fact, most are full-blown new towns, with red tile roofs and lush green lawns, planned and financed by Israel, some suburbs of Jerusalem, others at the end of settler-only bypass roads jutting out from Israel more than 60 kilometers to hilltops overlooking the large Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. One of the largest, Ma’ale Adumim, a city of 40,000, cuts the West Bank virtually in half.

Givat Zeev Settlement, West Bank [Ahmad Gharabli / Agence France-Presse (AFP)]

But despite the mass expulsions, and no matter how much land it takes or how many West Bank settlements it builds, Israel still has, from its perspective, the same thorny problem, too many non-Jews, far too many Palestinians.

Inside Israel proper, 6.7 million of its 8.6 million population, 74%, are Jewish, but 1.4 million Muslim and Christian Arabs, most of them Israeli citizens, make up 21%, and 5%, 450,000, are non-Arab Christians and other faiths.

Approximately 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, and 2.1 million more are crammed into Gaza. In East Jerusalem, Palestinians outnumber Jews 327,000 to 215,000.

Altogether there are roughly 5.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, add 1.4 million in Israel and the total 6.6 million is very close to if not exceeding, depending on who is counting, the number of Jews in all of Palestine.

[Hebrew University]

One who is counting, Sergio Della Pergola, demographer at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, has calculated that the numbers of Jews and Palestinians are close to equal now, and if current trends hold will be in 15 years, noting that although Jewish birth rates are catching up with Arabs, primarily due to high fertility rates among the ultra-Orthodox, the Palestinian population is younger and so dying at a slower rate.

Assailed by nationalist Israeli officials who accuse him of skewing the data, Della Pergola responded, “These are the figures. You can accept them or not. For some, it may be uncomfortable, so they say they are inaccurate, but truthfully that is quite childish.”

Israeli leaders obsess about the numbers. In 2017, police arrested several members of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, just for trying to do a head count of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.

Proposed Palestinian State

The West Bank, only 21% of pre-partition Palestine, with a narrow corridor connecting it to Gaza and the Mediterranean Sea, was designated under the 1994 Oslo Accords to be the territory, with land swaps here and there, on which a new Palestinian state would be created as part of a peace settlement with Israel.

It would solve Israel’s “too many Arabs” problem, because the almost five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would be outside Israel’s borders.

But even while paying lip service to a two-state solution, Israel does not intend to give up the West Bank, what Jews call Judea and Samaria, which it has sliced and diced into an archipelago of Palestinian cities and villages isolated from each other by Israeli settlements, settler-only access roads and military zones, out of which it is now virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state.

As Ali Akal, a butcher outside Nablus, observed, “It’s not only hard to imagine making a continuous state here, it’s hard even to make a continuous city.”

Slicing and dicing. Area A, 3% of the West Bank, the major Palestinian cities, Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem, is administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is responsible for all urban services.

But Israeli soldiers and police come and go as they please, and in Hebron they are ever present, an occupying force backing up Jewish settlers who simply moved in and took over – squatting is one word for it, stealing is another – the heart of an historic Palestinian neighborhood.

Area B, islands of orange in a sea of blue, roughly 25% of West Bank, including 440 Palestinian villages, is nominally governed by the Palestinian Authority, but Israel calls the shots on residency, building permits and police.

Area C (light blue), more than 70% of the West Bank, is under exclusive Israeli control, and the 230 Israeli settlements (dark blue) there are growing rapidly, with building permits for 12,000 new homes in 2020 alone, at four people per home almost 50,000 more settlers. More than 4,000 Jewish homes have been built on land for which Palestinians hold record title.

Area C contains most of the West Bank’s natural resources and open space, and access to it, per the World Bank, would enable Palestinians to expand their economy by a third. But 99% of it is off limits.

In addition to taking more and more land for Jewish settlements, Israel has designated large swaths of Area C as nature reserves, national parks and military firing zones – 18%, almost one fifth of the entire occupied West Bank, is designated as “firing zones” – and it does not supply the 150,000 Palestinians who live there with electricity, water or any other basic services.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, from 2000 to 2017 the Israeli occupation deprived the Palestinian Authority of $47.5 billion in tax revenues, cutting to only $4.5 billion the amount it had to spend on economic development in the entire West Bank over almost two decades.

Israeli bulldozer demolishing Yatta School near Hebron 2018 [AFP]

Israel routinely denies Palestinians building permits in both B and C, and then, Catch 22, demolishes homes, businesses, even schools, it deems “illegal” because they lack permits.

Between 2016 and 2018, Israeli authorities approved only 21 building permits, 2% of all applications, and only a tiny fraction of the number of demolition orders currently pending against 44 schools and 13,000 Palestinian homes and businesses in the West Bank.

Yuval Abraham [Emil Salman]

Yuval Abraham, a Jewish peace activist, has witnessed scores of demolitions. Here, in his words, is one of them.

I was there when they leveled the home of Faresah Abu Aram, a woman from the village of al-Rakiz, someone I know well. We knew that something bad was about to happen, because four bulldozers arrived that day.”

The Civil Administration inspector told the soldiers, ‘Don’t let her take anything, we don’t want her rebuilding,’ and then they demolished the house with everything she owned buried under the rubble. Clothes, pots and pans, the children’s schoolbags. I saw one of her daughters, just 8 years old, choking on the dust.


Basil and I ran after the bulldozers. It’s hilly terrain, the roads aren’t paved, not long ago they wrecked all the main roads. I fell, when I got up, I only heard echoes from across the hill, the screams of the residents and the beeping of the bulldozers. . . .

The residents have nowhere to go once their homes are demolished. They put down mattresses next to the ruins, live like that for a time, take a loan, start to rebuild and then there’s another demolition.” This is terrorism.

Yuval goes on, “You see it in the South Hebron Hills, the Jordan Valley and next to Ma’aleh Adumin – areas that Israel has designated for annexation, where the state instructs the army to demolish homes with heightened enforcement.

Israel has, in the first instance, absolute control over where Palestinians live. After the 1967 war, Israel required them to obtain permits to stay, enter or leave, those living in the West Bank and Gaza were issued green residency IDs, in Israel and East Jerusalem they got blue.

Just the start. Israel now slots everyone over age 16 into five categories, each with a different ID card: dark blue for Jewish-Israeli citizens; light blue for Palestinian citizens of Israel; greenish-blue for Arab residents of East Jerusalem; green for Palestinians residing in the West Bank; dark green for Palestinians in Gaza. 

In short, we decide who you are, what you are, and where you can live.

For Miriam Marmur, communications director for Gisha – Hebrew for “access” – an Israeli human rights organization, Israel’s vise grip on residency is a “tool of control in the demographic war it is waging to limit Arab population growth in Palestine.”

Since 1999 Israeli authorities have routinely denied or long delayed Palestinians’ residency requests, breaching its Oslo Accords commitment to validate the residency of not less than 4,000 Palestinians every year. Unification rules are honored in the breach, family life fractured, children separated from one parent or the other for years.

[Sliman Khader / Flash 90]

Israel makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians who marry someone they met while studying or traveling abroad to bring their spouse to live with them in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, much less someone from Gaza.

In 2003, the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, enacted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, barring even Arab citizens of Israel from obtaining residency for their spouses from the West Bank or Gaza. And since the early 1990’s, Israel has routinely denied Palestinians with green West Bank IDs entry into Jerusalem for weddings, funerals, family reunions or even critical medical care.

[Oded Balilty / AP]

Moreover, inside the West Bank there are, according to the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, more than 700 physical obstacles – checkpoints, roadblocks, walls, fences and military roads – restricting the movement of Palestinians on their way to work or school, to visit family or friends.


During the 2000 – 2005 Intifada, Israel erected the Separation Barrier, aka the Wall, now 650 kilometers long, effectively annexing 10% of the West Bank and walling off a third of Palestinian residents from their schools, health clinics and work places, forcing them, packed like cattle, to inch through caged checkpoints to get to the other side.

Qalandiya checkpoint

At the whim of Israeli soldiers and police, holdups at checkpoints can stretch hours. Young and old are often forced to cross as pedestrians, leaving their vehicles behind. Late to work, late to school. Women have given birth waiting, patients have died in ambulances en route to hospital.

There are now two Palestinian apps, “Azmeh,” traffic jam in Arabic, and “Qalandiya,” the name of a major checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem, just to help them navigate the maze. The psychological and financial toll is enormous.

Home invasions are another mechanism of control and intimidation. Palestinians on the West Bank are still governed – 54 years and counting – by Israeli military orders, including No. 67: “An officer or a soldier so authorized in general or in a specific instance is authorized to enter, at any time, any place,” and in fact every single night IDF soldiers invade Palestinian homes, usually without warning, always without a warrant.

[Mussa Qawasma / Reuters]

In “A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank,” a 2020 report based on interviews with IDF soldiers, three Israeli human rights groups, Breaking the Silence, an alliance of former soldiers, Yesh Din (Hebrew for “there is law”) and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI), determined that 88% of IDF home invasions were carried out between midnight and 5:00 a.m., 74% of the time ten or more soldiers entered the home, and 64% of families were invaded more than once.

The targeted homes are most often chosen at random. One commander, a major, testified: “It was completely arbitrary, I could choose any house I wanted to, like licking a finger and raising it to see which way the wind blows . . . . even if there was no one there who needed to be questioned or posed a risk.” Or as another Israeli soldier cheekily put it, “eeny, meeny, miney, moe.”

There is the occasional arrest or search for contraband, but “the overarching goal,” according to dozens of soldiers who testified before Breaking the Silence, “was to ‘instill a sense of persecution,’ not our words, they were right there in our written briefings.” In a word, terrorize the Palestinians.


One female soldier volunteered for a night raid, “It wasn’t my job, but they were looking for women to search Palestinian women [in Hebron]. I thought it was cool. I was 19 years old and playing war. I wanted to be part of it, to see how it was from the inside. It was a turning point for me.”

“The family was really scared. I have this strong image of this other soldier with a machine gun, holding it in front of this cute three-year-old. The soldier has a face mask, but pulls it off, pulls out a camera, grins, and tells the kids to say ‘cheese.’ I’m thinking, this is so fucked up.”

“I had this idea, . . . that held my world together, because I am nice, I’ll do it differently. But nice or not, what matters is we’re in their home at three in the morning, and we can’t be there without destroying their lives and creating the terror that later comes back to us.”

[Agence France Presse]

Many soldiers are not “nice.” They rough up and humiliate fathers with their wives and children watching, and more often than not ransack every room in the home. Just because they can, because they have guns.

Dr. Jomanah Milham, a PHRI psychiatrist: “Military home invasions, usually accompanied by verbal or physical violence, cause post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks, nightmares and sleep disturbances, excessive alertness and decreased functioning. . . . Palestinians are experiencing collective trauma. . . . among the highest in the world.”

And it is even worse for children: according to PHRI, the worldwide incidence of PTSD in children ranges 6.8% to 12.2% country to country, but in the West Bank and Gaza it is north of 35%.

Avner Gvaryahu, executive director of Breaking the Silence, who himself conducted home invasions as a sergeant in an IDF sniper unit, says, “Like checkpoints, they are part of the DNA of the Occupation. For soldiers like me they ended when we walked back to the jeep and got to sleep back in camp. But for Palestinians it is a long-term trauma, you cannot feel safe in your own home, in your bed. My last memory is of the piercing looks of fear and hatred.”

Maasiyahu Prison [Nir Kafri]

Call it what it is, a police state. Since 1967, Israeli soldiers and police have arrested more than 700,000 Palestinians, one in every five, including 120,000 in just the last five years, most for taking part in “illegal gatherings,” e.g., protesting house demolitions or expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza.

70% of Palestinian families have had a father, brother or son, even a mother or daughter, in an Israeli prison at one time or another, many more than once.

Incarceration on this massive scale is not a criminal justice system, it is a means, at the point of a gun, to crush all resistance to the occupation and colonization of Palestine.

Palestinians when arrested are arraigned in military courts where the judges and prosecutors are all members of the IDF and the conviction rate is 99.74%; Jews go into Israel’s civil court system. Very separate, very unequal.

Prison call [Moshe Shai / Flash90]

Detainees are often kicked and beaten en route to a detention facility. Once there they are denied legal counsel and contact with their families, shackled, strip searched, kept in solitary, interrogated and deprived of sleep for hours on end, slapped and punched while hooded, exposed to extreme cold and loud music, and forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they cannot read.

A 2019 report from Israel’s Public Defense Office described Israeli prisons for Palestinians as “dark, dirty and infested with rats, roaches and bed bugs, . . . unfit for human habitation.”

Banana [Curtis Trappenden]

According to former Israeli interrogators, extreme measures are often used to extract information or coerce confessions, include placing prisoners in stress positions, e.g., the “banana,” and the “Palestinian chair,” locking the prisoner into a deep and painful squat, techniques Israelis taught to Americans at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. In a word, torture.

These methods inflict not just lifelong muscle and joint pain, but deep and lasting depression, hallucinations, anxiety, insomnia and suicidal thoughts. The message: don’t ever forget what we can do to you.

Systematic abuse of Palestinian prisoners is swept under the rug. One of many examples: despite video footage from Ketziot Prison on March 24, 2019, showing ten Israeli prison guards kicking and beating 55 Palestinians bound and helpless on the floor, only four guards were even questioned, none disciplined.

As of September 2021, according to the Israel Prison Service, 4,650 Palestinians were incarcerated, 544 for life and 499 for sentences of 20 years or more, plus 520 “administrative” detainees – more than 4,000 in ten years – held without charges for six months, renewable as their jailers see fit. Guantanamo on the Med.

Alaa al-Rimawi [Al Jazeera]

Case in point. Alaa al-Rimawi, a Palestinian journalist with Al Jazeera television, has spent almost ten of his 34 years in Israeli prisons, despite never being convicted of anything. In just the last 18 months he was twice arrested and held in administrative detention because, he was told, “Your coverage [reporting on home demolitions] incites people, we view you as dangerous.” Really just a journalist.

Clown solidarity
[Majdi Fathi / NurPhoto]

Mohammad Abu Sakha, a 24-year old Palestinian circus clown, juggler and tightrope walker, was arrested on his way to the Palestinian Circus School near Ramallah where he works with children with learning disabilities. A military judge sentenced him to six months in administrative detention for unspecified “illegal activities” on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was held in prison for 20 months, no charges filed, no conviction, released. Just a clown.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Each-year-some-700-Palestinian-children-are-tried-in-Israeli-military-courts-that-boast-a-99.7-percent-conviction-rate-according-to-rights-groups-AFP-1024x677.jpg

And then there are the children. Since 2015, Israeli forces have arrested 7,000 Palestinian children under age 16, many under 12, most for throwing stones.

Up against Israeli tanks, it is much more a symbolic than violent act. In the words of one nine-year old, “All we have are stones. A bullet can kill you instantly. A little stone won’t do much. But at least I’m sending a message.”

Said Dahlah / Getty Images]

David killed Goliath with a stone, an irony seemingly lost on Israelis. Or perhaps not. Soldiers and police are now permitted under Israeli law to shoot children throwing stones, and their parents can be fined, imprisoned and their homes demolished.

[Stefani Reynolds / NYT]

Even Orthodox Jews are outraged: “Israeli forces are shooting children just because they throw stones; this is calamity, absolutely against our 613 commandments.”

IDF soldiers who kill or assault innocent Palestinian civilians are almost never held accountable. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has determined that on 80% of all complaints filed against soldiers, no investigation is ever launched or cases are quickly closed for “lack of evidence,” primarily because the agency charged with investigations, the MAG Corps (Military Advocacy for Operational Affairs), simply takes the soldiers’ word for what happened. Even in the most egregious cases, criminal charges are rarely filed, 0.7% to be exact according to Yesh Din, and then only against the lowest ranks, never against their commanders.


In early 2021, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz published a list of examples of IDF soldiers, self-styled as the “most moral army in the world,” killing or maiming unarmed Palestinian civilians on the West Bank.

Just a few from 2019 and 2020: 9-year-old Abd el-Rahman Shatawi, now in a vegetative state after being shot in the face from 100 meters while waiting outside the entrance to a classmate’s house; 22-year-old Omar Badawi, cut down by a sniper when he stepped out of his home carrying nothing but a towel; 17-year-old Zeid Qaysiyeh killed by a sniper while standing with his young nieces on the roof of the family home, Osama Mansour; 35-year-old vegetable peddler and father of five, who died in a hail of bullets after being instructed to move his car forward at a checkpoint, his wife, sitting next to him, was seriously wounded; Shadi Shurafi, a plumber, shot dead as he went to repair the main water valve in his village; Tareq Snobar, 28, killed on his way to the hospital to pick up his wife and new-born son.

Murdered. All of them. This is terrorism. Full stop.

[End 2, click on 3 below to continue reading post]



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We live in perilous times, democracy is under attack, rationality and compassion are in short supply, and our planet, our home for 200,000 years, is burning up. We must resist, we must work for a better world. MacLeod Post is my voice in that struggle.

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