Settlement & Annexation Report: October 20, 2022


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

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October 13, 2022

  1. Settlers Continue Attacks on Palestinians Around Nablus, also Target Israeli Soldiers
  2. Ben Gvir Joins, Escalates Settler Attacks in Sheikh Jarrah
  3. Settlers Attack Palestinian Olive Harvest, Seize Control of Silwan Grove
  4. Hebron-Area Town Emptied for Israeli Military, Settler Event
  5. Bonus Reads

Settlers Continue Attacks on Palestinians Around Nablus, also Target Israeli Soldiers

It has been another week of settlers and their allies rampaging across the northern West Bank while Palestinians in Nablus continue to be held hostage by the Israeli army, which continues to severely restrict traffic into and out of the city. 

On October 19th, settlers once again attacked Palestinians in Huwara, but this time also turned their violent anger against IDF soldiers attempting to intervene. Two soldiers were injured by the settlers attack, resulting in condemnation from Israeli politicians (even Kahanist MK Ben Gvir), and the IDF arrested an IDF soldier who allegedly joined the settler attack. The Israeli army later released a statement that seemingly condemned the settler attacks on soldiers without actually condemning them (this is the distinction between someone saying “I condemn racism” and “everyone has an obligation to condemn racism” – the first is an actual condemnation; the second, not so much). Notably, that statement also avoids the harsh language routinely used by the IDF with respect to Palestinian stone-throwers, and also, notably, the statement doesn’t even mention settler attacks on Palestinians as something the army condemns or thinks even should be condemned:

“Harm against IDF soldiers by settlers, who are protected by them, is wrongful behavior which we have an obligation to denounce and to work against vociferously.”

IDF chief Aviv Kohavi echoed the same sentiments the following morning: 

“This is a very serious incident, embodying shameful and disgraceful criminal behavior, which requires swift and strict justice. I support the important activity of IDF soldiers, who work around the clock to protect the residents of Israel. It is unacceptable that IDF soldiers who defend diligently and devotedly will be violently attacked by settlers.

Ben Gvir Joins, Escalates Settler Attacks in Sheikh Jarrah

On October 13th settlers led a rampage through the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, during which settlers and their supporters threw stones at Palestinian houses and destroyed Palestinian property in a show of power and impunity. The settlers were joined by Kahanist MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who pulled out a handgun while urging Israeli police to shoot any Palestinian seen throwing stones (caught on video).

The resulting clashes left more than two dozen Palestinians injured – including one seriously injured man who was struck on the head by a young settler wielding a metal bar. Two settlers were also injured.

Settlers Attack Palestinian Olive Harvest, Seize Control of Silwan Grove

The olive harvest season started this month, marking an annual period of intensive settler attacks against Palestinians olive trees and harvesters. Attacks this week took place across the West Bank, including in Nablus, Tulkarem, and in Bethlehem where settlers severely beat Israelis assisting in the harvest.

In Silwan, settlers and soldiers have colluded to seize control of a historic olive grove. The grove and surrounding area was registered as “absentee property” by the Israeli government in 2021, despite the fact that Palestinian farmers have long worked the land and have documents showing their ownership of the plots dating back decades. Once the land was seized by the government, Israeli authorities turned it over to the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) to manage. 

In July 2022, +972 Magazine revealed that the NPA signed a contract with the Elad settler group to manage the olive grove —  a contract which was connected to the wishes of an American donor who promised to donate the grove to Elad. At the time, a staff member of Elad reportedly promised the Palestinian farmers who had tended to the olive grove for decades that they would be permitted to continue harvesting the trees. 

Lo and behold, a few months later Palestinian farmers are now being denied access to their trees. Adding insult to injury, soldiers and settlers were seen picking olives from the trees days before the Palestinians were turned away. +972 Magazine reports:

“The establishment of the “agricultural farm” was intended to “restore biblical agriculture with a modern approach,” the Elad farm manager told Local Call during a visit to the area about two months ago. The manager said that although the farm area is fenced off, the Palestinian landowners are still allowed to enter to take care of the trees and harvest them when the season comes. He also said that the organization does not bring visitors to the olive plots nor allow them to harvest there, and that they only carry out development work in these plots. A few weeks later, when the manager was asked by activists what changes had occurred that allowed the soldiers to enter and harvest the trees earlier this month, he replied that he had received new directives from the Nature and Parks Authority permitting them to pick the olives there. According to him, he did not have this permission a month and a half ago.”

Uri Ehrlich, the media coordinator of Emek Shaveh – an NGO that combats the exploitation of archeological and heritage sites as political tools for dispossession – told +972 Magazine: 

“For hundreds of years, the Palestinian residents of Wadi Rababa/ Ben Hinnom planted and tended to the olive trees. The attempt by the police to prevent the harvest is part of an effort to negate the Palestinian history of the valley — which itself is a part of the Judaization of East Jerusalem led by the state, the Nature and Parks Authority, and Elad. It is destined to fail. The olive trees and the traditional agriculture of the Palestinians will continue to exist.”

Hebron-Area Town Emptied for Israeli Military, Settler Event

Haaretz reports that the IDF and settlers held a celebratory conference in the heart of the Palestinian town of Khirbat al-Karmil in the South Hebron Hills, and ordered Palestinians to vacate the area – which includes a water reservoir that services the town.

The town, located in Area A where the Oslo Accords afforded Israel civil and security control, is the site of an ancient pool that settlers have frequently invaded an with army escort during Jewish holidays, in a blatant attempt to takeover the area. The military’s event this week undoubtedly encourages and aids the settlers in their efforts.

Bonus Reads

  1. “Jaffa may become the next Sheikh Jarrah as Palestinians are pushed out” (Mondoweiss)
  2. “Israeli Settler Violence Surges as Palestinians Turn to Armed Resistance” (Jewish Currents)
  3. “How my family came face to face with settler violence on the road to Nablus” (+972 Magazine)
  4. “Brutal settler attacks on Huwwara find allies in Israeli soldiers” (Middle East Eye)
  5. “’24 hours of hell’: Israeli settler gangs terrorize Palestinian town under army protection” (Mondoweiss)