Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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September 1, 2022
- Ramat Migron Outpost Demolished for Third Time in Three Weeks
- Settlers’ Stealth Visit to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus Ends in Gun Fight
- Settlers Decry Removal of Trees Planted to Take Over Palestinian Land
- Palestinians Campaign for Nabi Samwil Recognition as New Docs Show Original Israeli Intent to Expel Them for Settlement
- Bonus Reads
On August 30th, Israeli forces cleared settlers and their makeshift structures — comprising the illegal outpost settlers have named “Ramat Migron” — off of land privately owned by Palestinians, as recognized by the Israeli High Court of Justice in 2012. Five settlers were arrested for violating a military order which makes it illegal to enter the area (both for settlers and even for the Palestinians who own the land), and for obstructing the work of a police officer.
Starting in 2017, settlers have repeatedly attempted to re-establish an outpost at this site, which is where the outpost of Migron once stood. The Migron outpost was dismantled by the Israeli government in 2012 after the Israeli High Court of Justice left the government no other option. Israeli forces have demolished the setters’ repeated attempts to set up a new outpost there more than 10 times, most recently on August 15th and August 11th of this year..
Notably (in light of his rising popularity and the upcoming Israeli elections), Kahanist MK Itamar Ben Gvir seized on the repeated razing of the outpost to campaign against Defense Minister Gantz, saying:
“Community-Eviction Minister Gantz continues time and time again to evacuate outposts and surrender to Abu Mazen, a Holocaust denier, his friend. Today there is another evacuation in Ramat Migron. They are uprooting and destroying – we will plant and resettle. The answer to the evacuation will be given On November 1st with a real right-wing government.”
Two Israeli settlers were wounded this week by Palestinian gunfire in the course of trying to access Joseph’s Tomb, a holy site located in the heart of Nablus, along with a group of other settlers. Notably, that visit was undertaken without the required (by Israeli authorities) approval of and coordination with the Israeli military, which regularly escorts settlers to the site under heavy protection. While Joseph’s Tomb is in Nablus (Area A of the West Bank), the Oslo Accords afford the Israeli army control over the site.
The incident comes amidst a series of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Nablus, including the high profile killing of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi as a result of a gun battle with the IDF. Just last week, FMEP reported on the IDF is planning to bulk up its security control over Joseph’s Tomb in order to protect settlers who wish to visit.
The High Court of Justice recently issued an injunction to stop the Israeli Civil Administration from continuing to uproot trees illegally planted by settlers on Palestinian land near the settlement of Nokdim, located southeast of Bethlehem. Settlers filed the petition leading to the freeze after the Court ordered the removal of the trees three months ago.
The settlers made their case for the injunction by arguing that (a) Palestinians who petitioned to have the trees removed had not proven their ownership of the land; and (b) the Civil Administration does not have the authority to uproot these trees, some of which are a protected species — notwithstanding the fact that they were planted illegally under Israeli law (such environmental work requires a permit signed by the staff officer in charge of agriculture, who works for the IDF’s Civil Administration). In effect, the settlers are arguing for the High Court to create/sign off on a new method of land takeover by settlers.
The battle of the trees and the plot of land dates back over 20 years, when settlers first built a fence to prevent Palestinians from accessing the area — which until then had been actively cultivated by Palestinians. In 2013, the IDF involved itself when Palestinians requested that it remove settlers from the site. The IDF ended up agreeing to do so and promised to ensure Palestinian access to the area (which it did, but very infrequently). Then, in 2017, settlers once again invaded the area and began planting trees as a means of taking control of the land. Since then settlers further developed the site into a park that is, of course, inaccessible to Palestinians.
In 2021, Palestinians, with the help of Haqel (an Israeli NGO), filed a petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice asking for the trees to be removed, and asserting that the land has been privately owned for generations.
Palestinians Campaign for Nabi Samwil Recognition as New Docs Show Original Israeli Intent to Expel Them for Settlement
+972 reports that newly released archival documents show that, in 1971, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir signed off on a plan to expel Palestinians from Nabi Samwil in order to build a luxury settlement on the ruins of the village (which is now an archeological site). Plans for the new settlement – which Meir at one point dubbed “New Savyon” after a wealthy Tel Aviv suburb – were eventually abandoned by the Israeli government in the mid 1980s, but (of course) Palestinians were not allowed to return.
Instead, refugees established a new village some 200meters from their original homes, still located on a strategic and highly prized hilltop (inside an area that Israel has declared to be a national park) just outside of the municipal borders of Jerusalem but on the Israeli side of the separation barrier. Israel considers the village to be in the occupied West Bank and so Nabi Samwil has been left in a Kafka-esque situation: they are cut off from the West Bank by the separation barrier but barred entry to Jerusalem. They are legally forbidden from taking the one road out of the village because it passes through Jerusalem, and the West Bank is accessible to them only via a circuitous route that passes through an Israeli checkpoint (for background see: The Palestinian village where Israel forbids everything, and this Twitter thread of resources curated by Lara Friedman).
Palestinian refugees of Nabi Samwil, in conjunction with activists, have held weekly protests to demand recognition from the Israeli government, in order to be able to build legal structures and be granted permits to enter Jerusalem. Refugees have petitioned the Israeli government for over 20 years to accept a formal building plan for the village, in order to allow the buildings to be deemed legal, but the government has refused. Eid Barakat, an activist in Nabi Samwil, told +972 Magazine:
“Every few years, a new officer in the Civil Administration comes, makes promises, and in the end nothing is done..all our homes have demolition orders. I dug a well; they destroyed it. I built a fence; they destroyed it. I planted trees; they were uprooted.”
- “The Fall and Rise of Israel’s First ultra-Orthodox Settlement” (Haaretz)
- “I tracked down the house Israel stole from my grandfather” (Al Jazeera)
- “WATCH: Women of Masafer Yatta tell their stories of resistance” (+972 Magazine)