Settlement & Annexation Report: May 17, 2024


Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.

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May 17, 2024

  1. Haqel Details High Court Order for the Return of Bedouin in South Hebron Hills
  2. Calls to Build Settlements in Gaza Grow Louder Within Israeli Government
  3. In First, Human Rights Groups Sue Irish Investment Fund Over Settlement Profiteering
  4. New York Times Profiles Israel’s Historic & Current Failure to Check Settler Extremism
  5. Further Reporting on Settler Activities This Week
  6. Bonus Reads

Haqel Details High Court Order for the Return of Bedouin in South Hebron Hills

As covered in last week’s report, the Israeli High Court of Justice  ruled in favor of returning 360 Palestinians to their homes in Khirbet Zanouta, a herding community which was forcibly expelled from their lands in the South Hebron Hills by extreme settler violence. The case of Khirbet Zanouta was recently profiled in a longform New York Times investigation, which highlights the human rights group Haqel and details how the Israeli legal system is designed to protect settlers and operated to deny Palestinians access to justice.

In a new brief about the ruling, Haqel explains that the order demands three things of the State:

  1. An outline of all measures planned to ensure the safe return of residents to the villages of Zanuta and Um Darith, focusing on their security and the protection of their property and livestock. This also applies to the petitioners in an additional petition heard jointly with Haqel’s petition. 
  2. The State justify the absence of a dedicated emergency contact center for the petitioners or their representatives. 
  3. An explanation of the absence of police response to incidents following complaints by petitioners and the lack of evidence collection.

Explaining the significance of the ruling, Haqel says:

“The illegal construction in outposts and settlements is an organized crime on a huge scale. It’s time for the law enforcement authorities to do their “This decision sets an important precedent for cases involving the protection of communities at risk of forced displacement and for those communities who were expelled from their homes and villages. Haqel will closely evaluate the actions of the State on the ground and the means in which they plan to ensure the return of the villagers to their homes.” 

Calls to Build Settlements in Gaza Grow Louder Within Israeli Government

Haaretz reports that many Israeli elected officials, including Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, joined a march to Gaza on May 14th (Israeli Independence Day) to demand the removal of PAlestinians from Gaza and Israeli settlement of the strip.

Ben-Gvir called the removal of Palestinians and Jewish settlement the “true solution” to Israel’s current war on Gaza. At a speech at the march, he said:

“First, we must return to Gaza now! We are coming home to the Holy Land! And second, we must encourage emigration. Encourage the voluntary emigration of the residents of Gaza. It is moral!”

Settler leader Daniella Weiss, whose organization – Nahala – organized the march and appeared on-stage with Ben Gvir, told the protestors:

“Instead of this smoke [rising over Gaza] we want to see Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.”

In First, Human Rights Groups Sue Irish Investment Fund Over Settlement Profiteering

On 15th May, Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), Al-Haq and Sadaka – the Ireland Palestine Alliance submitted a complaint against the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), alleging that the fund’s investments in 11 companies that are linked to Israeli war crimes and are therefore liable for seizure by Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). The complaint outlines how revenue generated by activity of these 11 companies supports both Israel’s illegal settlements and its ongoing Gaza offensive.

The groups say this is the first petition of its kind anywhere in the world,

Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq, said:

“The illegal settlements are one key part of Israel’s broader apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinian people. ISIF must face legal accountability for investing in companies complicit in the crime of apartheid. It is imperative that the Irish government carries out an immediate action plan to cut all of Ireland’s economic ties profiting from this heinous crime”. ​

New York Times Profiles Israel’s Historic & Current Failure to Check Settler Extremism 

The New York Times published a three-part article investigating the rise of ultranationalist politics in Israel, and how the failure to enforce the rule of law in the West Bank is at the heart of that story. The article starts with the rise and current role of Bezalel Smotrich, opening with the revelation that the head of Israel’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs (Fox), has been critical of Smotrich for the ways in which he undermines law enforcement efforts in the West Bank, particularly help illegal settlement construction circumvent punishment – saying that enforced against illegal settlement construction has dwindled “to the point where it has disappeared.” This current situation – whereby an Israeli extremist who has previously organized to subvert Israeli law is now in charge of enforcing that law – is traced back to the founding of Israel.

In response to the article, Smotrcih posted on X that the New York Times engages in blood libel against Israel.

Further Reporting on Settler Activities This Week

OCHA reports:

  • “On 9 May, a number of families from Mantiqat Shib al Butum in the firing zone of Masafer Yatta were granted access by Israeli forces to their agricultural land located near the settlement of Mitzpe Yair for the first time since February 2024 but found that 600 olive trees planted on 60 dunums of land had been vandalized due to sheep grazing by Israeli settlers. A fence was also destroyed and a shed erected, also presumably by Israeli settlers. On 7 May, Israeli settlers cut a wire feeding electricity to 50 houses in ِAl Mazra’a al Qibliya village, in Ramallah governorate, causing a blackout for ten hours.” 
  • “On 13 May, the last two remaining families Ein Samiya herding community (Ramallah), comprising 19 people including 11 children, were forced to leave their community amid attacks by Israeli settlers and moved to Kafr Malik village. Settlers stole the empty tents, a vehicle and fodder and have remained in the area, prohibiting the families from returning. As of today, all 29 households in the community (156 people) have become displaced. Across the West Bank, since 7 October, some 233 Palestinian households comprising 1,385 people, mostly herding families, including 654 children, have been displaced amid settler violence and access restrictions.”

The PLO National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements reports the following illegal settler activities over the past week:

  • Settlers welded the doors of the old Hebron Municipality’s building located in the Ain Al-Askar area as a prelude to seizing it. The case is reportedly being considered by the Courts. 
  • Setters erected a new settlement outpost and placed sheep and fodder in it, 700 meters from the Ras Ain Al-Auja Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley.
  • Settlers illegally built a new road on lands in the village of Husan in the “Wadi Qadis” area, extending from the Ain Qadis spring all the way to the Ain al-Taqa spring near Bethlehem.

Bonus Reads

  1. “The Dubious Land Deal Threatening East Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter’ (The Nation)