Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Israel grabs Palestinian-owned private lands

Since the illegal birth of the State of Israel, nearly seven decades ago, the apartheid state has been in the business of grabbing Palestinian-owned land. As I have noted elsewhere the entire litany of episodes that led to the implantation of European Jewry in the Holy Land - from the Balfour Declaration, nearly a century ago, to the highly controversial plan by the United Nations to partition Palestine in the aftermath of World War Two to today's land-grabbing activities - have all been illegal.

Before the apartheid state was born the Jewish community in Palestine owned only 2.5 % of the total land, and yet it was given 56% of the total land in one of the most outrageous crimes of the last century. The Palestinians and neighboring Arabs were not consulted by the UN in this criminal land distribution. The rest is history. Israel was born 68 years ago.

In its so-called War of Independence, the Jewish state with its Zionist terrorists went not only onto grabbing 77% of the total land, which was 21% more than what the UN gave it, but also into evicting nearly 770,000 indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the 1967 War, Israel was able to occupy the remainder part of Palestine. Slowly but steadily ever since, it has been doing everything to let the Jewish settlers from outside to grab personal land properties of Palestinians.

Charlotte Silver has posted the story of a Palestinian victim Muhammad Abu Ta’ah in the Electronic Intifada. Last November, Abu Ta’ah arrived at his property in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem only to find it had been fenced off by contractors.

On the three-dunum plot of land, construction had begun on a four-story, 70-office building that would make up the new headquarters for the private settler group Amana.

The property had once been part of an expansive 4,000 dunums (nearly 1,000 acres) of land which Israel expropriated in 1968, one year after its military occupied East Jerusalem. On that land, the state built the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol settlements, in addition to a government compound.

Much of this land had been owned by the Abu Ta’ah family. Until now, they had retained this last slice of property, located between a Palestinian hospital and a main thoroughfare, rented part of it to a car business and turned the rest into a large parking lot.

But now it belongs to Amana, the development arm of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, which has been integral to Israeli colonization of many parts of the occupied West Bank.

Amana also owns Al-Watan, a company based in the West Bank that buys Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and which has been involved in forging Palestinian signatures in dubious land purchases.

A new investigation by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now reveals how several Israeli ministries, led by the Israel Land Administration (ILA), went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Abu Ta’ah family’s last piece of land in order to give it to Amana.

The investigation shows that at every step of the way, the ILA helped Amana circumvent bureaucratic roadblocks to ensure the land became theirs.

“First they exempted Amana from the duty to hold a tender,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

“Then they approved its building plan without it having any real rights to the land. Later the finance minister signed an expropriation in order to retrospectively whitewash the transfer of the land to Amana, and finally, today too, the state continues to fiercely guard this illegal behavior in court, instead of righting the wrongs and returning the land to its owners.”

To read the story of Israeli government's theft of Palestinian-owned lands, click here.

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