On Friday and Saturday, March 12th and 13th, some 500 Israelis, joined by dozens of Palestinians, launched the Israeli Campaign Against the Perpetuation of the Occupation, notice of which you received earlier. Together we rebuilt three homes demolished by the Israeli authorities on the West Bank and planted 300 olive trees in farmers’ field from which hundreds were uprooted by the Israeli authorities two weeks ago. Through these actions we sought to call attention to the furious Israeli efforts to complete the annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These threaten to foreclose the possibility of a just peace forever by creating irreversible “facts” on the ground, while confining the Palestinian population to an apartheid-like existence of poverty, dependency and limited freedom of movement. Our activities, beginning with a press conference in Jerusalem on March 10th, received wide press coverage in Israel and abroad. Our e-mail campaign – YOU – generated hundreds of letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls to Israeli, European and North American governments protesting Israel’s unilateral actions, and we ask you to continue to actively support our Campaign. Through organizations such as Rabbis for Human Rights and Christian Peacemaker Teams, and many individuals — including critical support from an Israeli funder living in England — we have effectively spread the word of our Campaign.

We have just begun. As of this writing (Sunday night), the three houses are still standing. We have small groups sleeping at the sites ready to resist the bulldozers if they appear (usually about 5:50-6 AM) and to alert the press. If the houses are still standing by next weekend, we plan to return and continue the finishing work. If they have been demolished, we will rebuild yet again – and keep rebuilding until the injustice of the Occupation is fully revealed. We are also organizing a demonstration against the opening of a large industrial park on the West Bank near Ramallah (for Israeli factories only), to be attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Other groups, such as environmental and human rights organizations, are preparing their own activities in conjunction with our Campaign.

We appreciate your support and ask you to continue to speak out and lobby at this critical juncture of an almost moribund peace process. For your information, we are sending along (1) a copy of the ad that appeared in Hebrew and English in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz and in Arabic in the Israeli/Palestinian newspaper al-Ittahad; (2) a short description of the families, sites and activities where our actions took place this last weekend; and (3) a synopsis of the major elements of the Occupation.

We invite you to stay in touch, and ask that you forward these materials on.

In Peace,

Jeff Halper,
Coordinator, ICAHD

Don’t let the bulldozers demolish the peace!

Join Us In Opposing The Perpetuation Of The Occupation

  • 6,000 Palestinian houses demolished on the West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • 30,000 people left homeless
  • Tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land confiscated
  • Hundreds of thousands of fruit and olive trees uprooted
  • More than 90% of the Palestinians confined to isolated cantons
  • 180 settlements established – 13 in the last few weeks – 180,000 settlers
  • A massive system of by-pass roads carving up the West Bank and foreclosing peace

In the last few weeks Netanyahu’s government has escalated its policy of settlement and displacement in the Occupied Territories in a last-minute attempt to frustrate any peace settlement. Hundreds of bulldozers are at work 24 hours a day in a desperate attempt to create irreversible “facts” on the ground.

The time has come to act! Come build with us Palestinian houses demolished by the Israeli authorities on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Come plant with us olive trees in place of those uprooted by the settlers and the Civil Administration. Come join us in protesting by-pass roads designed to close Palestinians into small and disconnected enclaves. Now – before its too late.

When and Where

[Buses left from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa]

Participating Organizations

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Shomrei Mishpat – Rabbis for Human Rights (Friday only)
Gush Shalom
Bat Shalom
The Alternative Information Center, Yesh Gvul
Netivot Shalom – Oz v’Shalom (Friday only)
The Student Committee for Human Rights of the Hebrew University
Women in Black
The Committee for Solidarity with Hebron
The Arab Student Committee of the Hebrew University
Campus, Tel Aviv University
Action Committee of Jaffa
A Bridge to Peace
The Committee for the Arabs of Jaffa.

The Campaign Against Perpetuating the Occupation

Our campaign against the perpetuation of the Occupation calls attention to all the diverse yet interlinking components of Israel’s current efforts to complete its de facto annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem: house demolitions; massive land expropriation; destruction of Palestinian crops, the closure and other forms of economic warfare, harassment of the Palestinian population; settlement expansion; the construction of a massive system of by-pass highways; and other policies.

The Al-Shawamreh Family of Anata

Salim al-Shawamreh, his wife Arabia and their six children live in the village of Anata, which is divided between Jerusalem and the West Bank (part in Area B, Salim’s house in Area C under full Israeli control). About a third of its population of some 12,000 hold Jerusalem identity cards, while the other two-thirds are classified as West Bank residents, with no access to Jerusalem — including “Jerusalem” parts of Anata. 20,000 dunams were expropriated from Anata to build the settlements of Alon, Kfar Adumim, Almon and Ma’aleh Adumim; an Israeli by-pass road is currently being constructed around the village.Crowding in Anata has become chronic. Some 23 demolitions orders have been served on Anata residents by the Jerusalem municipality, the Ministry of Interior and, where Anata expands into “Area C”, the Civil Administration.

After several attempts to obtain a permit, the Shawamreh family house, built on privately-owned land, was demolished amid great violence in July of 1998, and after being rebuilt by ICAHD and other Israeli organizations was demolished again in August. The price was high: besides losing their house, Arabia Shawamreh fell into a deep depression and had to be hospitalized. Salim says: “Together with Israelis who seek a just peace, we will build here a House of Peace.”

The Abu Yakub Family of Kifal Harith

Kifal Harith is a Palestinian village of some 5,000 people in the West Bank, very close to the Israeli settlement of Ariel. In late December, 1998, the Civil Administration demolished with a large show of force the three-room house of Husam Abu Yakub and his family, uprooting olive trees and gardens of village residents on the way. The Abu Yakubs pleaded with the soldiers not to destroy the house, and when they refused to leave, the army threw in a canister of tear gas. Their six-month old child was taken from the house unconscious. The Civil Administration contractor then sent his African guest workers to quickly remove the family’s belongings, and the house was bulldozed.

The Abu Dahoud Family of Hebron

Hassan Dahoud is a 60 year-old worker who lived with his wife and 12 children in a modest house on the rural outskirts of Hebron, far from any Israeli settlement or by-pass road. His applications for a building permit were rejected because his land – as most of the West Bank — is zoned by the Israelis as “agricultural” (although that does not prevent the construction of thousands of Israel housing units in Kiryat Arba and other settlements in the area). Last year the Dahoud family’s home was demolished.

Tree-planting in Beit Dajan

A major problem facing the Palestinian economy in general, and that of individual farming families in particular, is the wholesale destruction of orchards and crops by the Civil Administration. Harassment of farmers and attempts on the part of settlers to prevent them from planting or harvesting their crops are also common. Just three weeks ago, 675 olive trees were uprooted from the fields of Beit Dajan farmers near Nablus, on the basis of a 1985 expropriation order that has been in legal dispute for years. Between 1987-97, some 250,000 olive and fruit trees have been uprooted or cut down by Civil Administration personnel for the purposes of land expropriation, settlement expansion or by-pass roads or by settlers seeking to harass and intimidate local farmers while driving them from their land. In 1998 alone 16,780 trees, most of which were olive trees. 3,200 trees were uprooted and burnt by settlers and 13,580 trees by the Israeli army.

An Israeli Campaign Against Perpetuating the Occupation

The two months left before the Israeli elections in May will be among the most momentous in the modern history of the Middle East. For over twenty years Israeli governments, guided by the steady yet quiet work of Ariel Sharon, have been “creating facts on the ground.” A structure of occupation, displacement and apartheid has been systematically constructed around the Palestinian population of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. It is designed to ensure Israeli control and de facto annexation of more than half the Occupied Territories, while confining its three million Palestinians to an archipelago of small, crowded, impoverished and disconnected bantustans.

The structure of annexation has been constructed in a piecemeal fashion over many years, so that the overall conception could not be comprehended. The final pieces are now being hastily put into place, and we find ourselves confronting nothing less than an entrenched system of occupation, apartheid and the prospect of continued conflict. Rather than focusing on each component of the Occupation, we must look at the whole picture. The major intertwining components are:

  • Land Expropriation: Since 1967 Israel has taken control of 70% of the Occupied Territories. Tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land have been confiscated, hundreds of thousands of fruit and olive trees uprooted.
  • Settlement Blocs: 180 settlements have been established on the West Bank, home to 180,000 settlers — 350,000 if one counts the Israelis living in “neighborhoods” of “Greater” Jerusalem beyond the Green Line. Thirteen new settlements have been established in the past few months following Sharon’s call to “grab the hilltops.”
  • Home Demolitions and Cantonization: 6,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished on the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, leaving some 30,000 people homeless. In 1995, “only” 43 houses were demolished on the West Bank, 25 in Jerusalem. In 1996 the numbers went up to 140/17; in 1997, 233/16; and in 1998, 150/25 – a drop attributed to influence of political pressure. More than 90% of the Palestinians confined to small and disconnected cantons besieged by Israeli army checkpoints.
  • Massive Networks of By-Pass Roads: Twelve new by-pass highways are being furiously constructed, part of a massive system of 29 by-pass roads. Each highway is 50 meters wide with “sanitized” margins of 300 meters wide, which serve to limit the growth of Palestinian towns, cities and villages within constricted cantons. By-pass highways prevent the territorial contiguity needed for a viable Palestinian entity, and link individual Israeli settlements into “blocs” that surround and “swallow” Palestinian communities;
  • Environmental Pollution: Industrial pollution is caused by the moving of highly polluting Israeli industries to the West Bank — aluminum, batteries, leather tanning, textile dyeing, fiberglass and other chemical industries producing hazardous waste. Under-regulated industrial parks severely damage the area’s delicate environment.
  • Closure and Economic Warfare: For the past five years Palestinians have been unable to move freely without passes, including into Jerusalem for reasons of religion, employment and residency, or move their goods.
  • Human Rights Abuses and Psychological Warfare. Israel refuses to recognize the binding nature of human rights covenants on which it is a signatory as they relate to its actions in the Occupied territories. It also uses intimidation, collective punishment, denial of residency and work rights and the criminalization of Palestinian daily life.

We are now witnessing the completion of the annexation and apartheid process – indeed, a brazen attempt by the Netanyahu government to “steal” the elections by making them irrelevant. We cannot permit bulldozers rather than negotiations and the ballot box to decide the fate of our peoples.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Rehov Tiveria 37, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (02) 624-8252, (052) 673-467
Fax: (02) 566-2815
e-mail: halper@iol.co.il, rhr@inter.net.il