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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Report accuses Israel of excluding Palestinians from West Bank settlement areas
Andrew Gilmore at 9:08 AM ET

[JURIST] A report [B'Tselem press release] released Thursday by B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories [advocacy website] alleges that Israeli security policies have resulted in Palestinians being prevented from accessing land adjacent to settlements in the West Bank. The report, entitled "Access Denied: Israeli measures to deny Palestinians access to land around settlements" [report summary, PDF] describes two main Israeli behaviors against Palestinians in the West Bank, including the use of violence and harassment by settlers and security forces to keep Palestinians away from the settlements, and the building of a secondary fence to create a buffer zone consisting of empty land in a wide swath around the settlements. B'Tselem explained the extent of the report:

[T]he blocking of access surveyed in this report is not to be viewed in isolation, but as part of a body of prohibitions, restrictions, oppressive means, and theft of land imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank, who are under army occupation. Along with this, the closing of land around settlements and blocking of Palestinian access to the land are not minor phenomena, and the resultant harm to Palestinians is great, in particular with respect to farmland, on which many families depend for their livelihood. ... Throughout the report are descriptions how settlers and the defense establishment block Palestinian access to land around settlements. In many cases, the closing is piratical: the authorities know of it but turn a blind eye, or wink, and systematically fail to enforce the law. Such unauthorized closing of land – carried out by settlers, and sometimes also soldiers, in part by placing physical barriers and by violent means – has been going on for more than three decades.
The Jersualem Post has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

In July, the Israeli rights group Yesh Din [advocacy website] highlighted the lack of investigations and prosecutions [JURIST report] of Israeli settlers who commit crimes against Palestinians. Israel has been strongly criticized by the international community over its settlement and land appropriation activities, particularly in the West Bank. In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] asserted that Israeli plans to expand settlements [Ha'aretz report] in the West Bank violate international law [JURIST report]. In October 2006, The Supreme Court of Israel [official website] rejected an appeal by Palestinian villagers claiming that a 6-kilometer stretch of the border wall [JURIST news archive] would separate them from their crops. Shortly after construction of the 670-kilometer barrier began in the West Bank in 2002, the International Court of Justice [official website] held that it violated international law. In a non-binding advisory opinion [text], the court held that its construction violated UN Security Council [official website] resolutions and Israel's obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention [ICRC document] to respect the territorial borders of the Palestinian territory, deeming the wall "tantamount to a de facto annexation."





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