Facts and Figures on Israeli Punitive Measures against the Palestinian Flare-up

Prof. Asa’d Abdul Rahman

Many people seem unaware of the huge number of sacrifices made by the Palestinian resistance in the bigger part of the occupied lands (commonly known as the West Bank). People’s attention has been directed/ diverted to inter-Arab disputes and civil wars at the expense of the Palestinian resistance operations that erupted a year ago. These operations have been met with a rise in Israeli occupation brutality including “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people and their land. These developments coincided with a series of laws adopted by Israel’s extremist right government designed to suppress the ongoing resistance which Arab, Israeli and others world world-wide observers call: “the flare-up” (habbah) that the occupation authorities have so-far failed to stop or abort.

The current ‘habbah’ broke out almost fourteen months ago in the form of protests against the Jewish colonialist settlers’ encroachment on al-Aqsa Mosque; the most sacred Islamic Shrine in Palestine. The protests developed into individual acts by young men and women launching stabbing and run-over attacks against the Israeli soldiers. So, here is the broad picture of the Palestinian sacrifices and Israel’s punitive measures in such a confrontation.

First, according to statistics by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, 249 Palestinians fell martyr in the first twelve months of the ongoing flare-up. The figures included 68 boy and girl children under the age of 18 years and 22 females. Most of them were in Hebron governorate which saw 77 of its men and women killed. The number of those who also sacrificed their lives and fell victim to Israeli gunfire included 53 in Jerusalem, 22 in Ramallah, 21 in Jenin, 16 in Nablus, 15 in Bethlehem, 5 in Tulkarem, 4 in Salfit and 2 in Qalqilya. The number of Palestinians injured in the occupied West Bank and in1948 Palestine was estimated at 18,300. To punish their families, the Israeli occupation authorities maintain a policy of demolishing their houses as well as holding the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs, and currently refuse to release 17 of them killed in the confrontations.

Secondly, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported that the ‘habbah’ was met with a continuous Israeli detention campaign targeting thousands of Palestinians. According to the Center, eight thousand Palestinian were arrested over the past year including 2155 children, the youngest was Ali Alqam of Jerusalem aged 12 and a half years. The figures included arrest of 270 women and young girls with 250 of them accused of incitement on the Facebook pages. The Center’s report also noted a significant rise in Israeli courts’ (“administrative detention”) orders against Palestinian detainees with 1773 of them issued against women and minors.

Thirdly, homes’ demolition is an old policy adopted by Israel as early as 1967 in the wake of its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A form of collective punishment, the policy has been put anew into effect with the escalation of the ‘habbah’. According to working UN agencies in the Palestinian occupied lands, 2015 saw a record number of such crimes with a 40% rise in the demolitions this year. The Israeli B’tselem Center (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) reported that the Israeli occupation authorities demolished homes in Palestinian communities in the first half of 2016 more than it did throughout 2015.  The number of buildings  brought down by Israeli bulldozers were 620 in the first half of this year including 279 homes and 341 Palestinian-owned commercial, agricultural and industrial facilities (displacing around 2,500 people) compared to 131 homes and 40 buildings demolished in the past year.

Fourthly, the mid-year report on Israeli violations in the first half of 2016 issued by Hourani Center for Studies and Documentation in Gaza pointed to a rise in the construction and expansion of Jewish colonies/ “settlements” with more units given the go-ahead. The report indicated that the Israeli occupation authorities have approved -through its various arms responsible for construction activities in those colonies- plans, submission of tenders and license issuance for 8849 “settlement” (i.e. colonizing) units. Some of them have been implemented, others under construction or pending completion of building procedures.

Fifthly, the same report confirms that the Israeli occupation authorities seized, in the first half of this year, more than 10,315 dunums of Palestinian land in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area, declaring them “state (i.e. Israel) land”.   Demarcation and survey of more than 62,000 dunums of the West Bank land have reportedly been carried out by Israeli “Civil Administration” teams, in order to annex them later to serve the Jewish colonies as well as impose a de-facto situation on the ground and undermine prospects of a two-state solution.

The Palestinian flare-up or ‘habbah’ whose eruption was not in any of Israel’s political and security  leadership calculations, and despite the ‘primitive’ means used, has an important economic, political and moral  implications on the Zionist state.  It certainly proves ineffectiveness of any Israeli military or intelligence solutions and indicates that the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation will continue. The Habbah goes on despite feelings of frustration as a result of the current civil wars in several Arab countries as well as other disappointing developments at local (Palestinian and Israeli) levels let alone the rebirth of a new “cold war” on the international level.