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UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


In Unprecedented Move, Eight European Countries to Demand Compensation From Israel for West Bank Demolitions

In a letter, the countries seek $35,000 in compensation for confiscating and demolishing structures they had built in Area C, under full Israeli control

by Barak Ravid         19 October 2017        Haaretz

A Bedouin man gestures toward the debris of his destroyed tent after Israeli troops dismantled 15 tents and huts in the village of al-Qadesya, West Bank, July 19, 2010.

A Bedouin man gestures toward the debris of his destroyed tent after Israeli troops dismantled 15 tents and huts in the village of al-Qadesya, West Bank, July 19, 2010. SAIF DAHLAH / AFP

Eight European Union countries wrote an official protest letter to Israel, demanding over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for confiscating and demolishing structures and infrastructure which the countries had built in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control.

A senior European diplomat told Haaretz that the letter, which is the first of its kind, was expected to be delivered to senior Foreign Ministry officials within a few days.

According to the European diplomat, Belgium was leading the move. The other countries involved in drafting the letter are France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark. All eight countries are members of the West Bank Protection Consortium, a body through which they coordinate humanitarian assistance to Area C.

The countries were protesting the confiscation of solar panels they had installed in Bedouin communities and the demolition of mobile structures that were financed in various Bedouin communities to serve as classrooms.

The existence of the protest letter was first reported by the French newspaper Le Monde. In the letter, the eight countries stressed that if Israel does not unconditionally return the equipment it seized, they would demand compensation. The demolition and seizure of humanitarian equipment, including school infrastructure, and the interference in the transfer of humanitarian assistance contravenes Israel’s obligations under international law and causes suffering to the Palestinian residents, the letter said.

The letter is the second step these countries are taking on this issue. A month and a half ago, diplomats from the eight countries came to meet with the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe desk, Rodica Radian-Gordon, to protest Israel’s actions against Bedouin communities in Area C. 

According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle said during the meeting that if Israel did not return the equipment it had seized, his country would formally demand compensation. Belle was the only one at that meeting to raise the issue of compensation, but in the ensuing weeks he apparently managed to persuade his colleagues to turn the demand into a joint agreed-upon position that would be officially conveyed to Israel.

Israel categorically rejects the demand for compensation. Israel’s position is that the European activity in Area C is not humanitarian assistance but illegal development that is being done without coordinating with Israel and with the aim of strengthening the Palestinians’ hold on Area C. The European position is that under the Geneva Convention, Israel is responsible for dealing with the everyday needs of the Palestinian population in Area C, and since it is not doing so, the European states are stepping in with humanitarian aid.

Barak Ravid

Haaretz Correspondent


Ignoring Court Case, Israel Seizes Solar Panels Powering Bedouin School in West Bank

Army authorities violate established procedure of waiting until High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting

 by        10 August 2017       Haaretz

A Bedouin encampment in the area of Abu Nuwar, May 24, 2015.A Bedouin encampment in the area of Abu Nuwar, May 24, 2015. Anadolu Agency

The Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank seized solar panels that powered a Bedouin school and a preschool outside Jerusalem on Wednesday, even though it knew a petition against the seizure was being filed to the High Court of Justice. Indeed, the court issued a restraining order against the confiscation – an hour after the panels were carted off.

By taking the panels, the military authorities violated the established procedure of waiting until the High Court makes an interim decision on a petition before acting.

The panels stood in the Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, located in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. Local resident Daoud Basimat sent a letter to the prosecution through attorney Alaa Mahagna, stressing that there was going to be a petition filed against the seizure of the solar panels. The prosecution acknowledged the notice and said it was being passed to the relevant officials.

Nevertheless, the state hastened to take action and confiscated the solar panels on Wednesday at about 2:30 P.M. An hour later, unaware that the panels had already been hauled away, Justice Neal Hendel issued a temporary order against any enforcement action, “Including forbidding their use, demolishing or confiscating the solar panels that are the subject of this petition unless there is a pressing security need requiring this.”

“This is not the first time that the Civil Administration takes action in contravention of the law while ignoring judicial orders, in an effort to create a fait accompli in the field,” Mahagna told Haaretz. “These are solar panels that were erected to give a basic level of electricity to the only school in the village."

“The enforcement actions reflect the Civil Administration’s approach to the Bedouin communities in the West Bank,” he continued. “What happened today reflects the real meaning of the occupation, which perceives Palestinians as nonexistent in all the territories designated to strengthen the settlement enterprise and the settlements.”

A security source stressed that the panels had been erected without a permit, adding that in fact they were erected on the ruins of other Palestinian structures that had been demolished by the administration a few weeks ago.

After learning what had happened, Hendel told the state to submit a detailed report on the sequence of Wednesday's events, which will also address the "claimed link between the solar panels that were confiscated and the school and preschool at the site," by Thursday.

In response, the Civil Administration said that "On August 8, inspectors from the administration found unauthorized construction that included the solar panels. The next day, the panels and additional equipment that were placed at the site illegally were taken. A short time afterwards, the Justice Ministry received a copy of the petition filed to the High Court of Justice in this regard and only later was an injunction given." The administration stressed that "the fact that a lawyer petitions the Justice Ministry does not override authorities' responsibility to enforce the law of the land."


Haaretz Editorial :    Stop the Forced Uprooting of Bedouin Communities From the West Bank

24 September 2017

Uprooting Bedouin communities and replacing them with new Jewish settlements is against international law, and the Israeli High Court of Justice must stand firm against it

Bedouin girls on their way to school in the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, February 2017.Bedouin girls on their way to school in the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, February 2017. Lior Mizrahi

The High Court of Justice is expected to fill up Monday with a very familiar audience from recent years: Bedouin villagers from the West Bank, diplomats, representatives of international organizations and Israeli activists. Justices Neal Hendel, Isaac Amit and Uri Shoham are to hear two petitions involving the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which became famous in 2009 for its school, built out of tires.

One of the petitions, by the settlement of Kfar Adumim, demands that the state implement its order to demolish the school. The other, brought by the Bedouin residents, seeks to rescind demolition orders issued against most of the structures in the village.

At the request of the State Prosecutor’s Office, the opposing petitions are to be presented at the same hearing. But the days have passed and the prosecution has still yet to present its response to them. On September 13, officers of the Civil Administration (part of the Israel Defense Forces) came to Khan al-Ahmar and informed the residents that despite their opposition, they were to be moved to “Al-Jabal West,” near the Abu Dis garbage dump. In the late 1990s, land was allocated there to the Bedouin who were expelled from an area slated for the expansion of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. A study by the nongovernmental organization Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and UNRWA shows that the enforced move to a semi-urban environment would severely harm the residents’ lifestyle and livelihood.

Last week, the State Prosecutor’s Office twice requested a continuance to submit its response. In both cases, it said it was still awaiting the response of “the most senior political officials.” That response is expected to come only on Sunday afternoon. But the court refused the request of lawyer Shlomo Lecker, representing the Bedouin community, to postpone the hearing due to the late filing of the response.

Presumably the senior political officials had time to peruse the response over the holiday. Its direction was set by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: On August 29, he said his ministry was preparing to evacuate the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and Sussia – another flagship in the struggle of Palestinian communities in Area C (under Israeli civil and security control) against attempts to expel them to sites abutting Area A (under Palestinian civil and security control).

No one is disputing that the school and other structures were built without permits. But the problem is not “construction offenders.” The problem is Israeli policy, which prevents construction and hookups to infrastructure to the point where dozens of communities have deteriorated to the harshest of conditions. The problem is Israel’s intention to uproot them, in order to expand settlements and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This political project – the forced uprooting of Bedouin communities, replacing them with new Jewish settlements – is against international law. It has reached the doorstep of the High Court justices, who are under constant pressure to “respect the will of the people” – that is, the will of the settlers who control the government – even though this will is neither legal nor moral. It must be hoped the justices will be able to stand in the breach.