Palestinians Living in Firing Zones

Stephen Lendman

Life in Occupied Palestine is hard enough. Imagine how much worse in firing zones. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

Palestinians inspect damage in a poultry farm after an Israeli air
strike in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Food was already
scarce because of the immoral & illegal blockade of Gaza.

(1) Israel designated about 18% of West Bank land closed military zones, aka firing zones. It's one among other ways Israel steals land.
(2) About 5,000 Palestinians in 38 communities are affected. Most are Bedouins. Land they've lived on for generations was theirs in peace until 1948. Everything changed when Israel began stealing it. It's now used for military and other purposes.
(3) Over 80% of affected communities are in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area. It's called South Hebron Hills.
(4) Over 90% of these communities are water scarce. Residents access less than 60 liters per capita daily. Over half of them get less than 30 liters per day. The World Health Organization's (WHO) minimum recommended amount is 100 liters.
(5) Oslo divided the West Bank into three parts. They include Areas A, B and C. A fourth for Greater Jerusalem.

Palestinians control Area A for internal security, public order, and civil affairs. The PA maintains civil control over Area B. It includes 450 towns and villages. Israel retains overriding authority for settler safety and its own interests throughout the Territories. It controls Area C entirely. It comprises over 60% of West Bank land. It includes its valuable water resources. Israel considers it sovereign territory.

Land theft is official policy. Israel's been stealing it for decades. It wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas. Palestinians are consigned for scrublands unfit to live on. Food insecurity in Area C is 24%. For Bedouins, it's 34%. Many live in firing zones. At issue is for how long. Stealing it destroys generations of normal life.

(6) Two firing zone located schools and one kindergarten are scheduled for demolition.
(7) Since 2010, about 45% of demolitions of Palestinian structures occurred in firing zones. Over 820 civilians were displaced.
(8) Ten Israeli settlement outposts are either partly or entirely in firing zones.

In the 1970s, Israel declared large West Bank areas closed military areas. Palestinians can't live there without permission. It's rarely granted. Those there face dispossession. Demarcating land is one way Israel steals it. Humanitarian impact doesn't matter.

Firing zones aren't clearly marked. Residents say little or no military activity occurs there. Affected Palestinians are among those most in need. Limited essential services are available. Regular demolitions target residents. Israeli settlement outposts aren't threatened. Families living in or near firing zones are herders. They need livestock grazing land. They're greatly restricted.

Violators face substantial fines and/or imprisonment. Villagers also have to pay costs for their own property confiscations and/or demolitions. They're punished two or more times over. Palestinians in firing zones face property losses, IDF harassment, water scarcity, movement restrictions, and settler violence. Israel spurns its occupying power obligations. It ignores basic needs and welfare. It violates international law with impunity. It creates hellish conditions for affected Palestinians.

In recent weeks, Firing Zone 918 made headlines. Eight villages in the West Bank's southernmost area are affected. Over 1,500 Palestinians live there. On July 23, Israel ordered them out. Property demolitions are planned. On August 7, the IDF began closing roads. A checkpoint between Jinba and Khirbet Biral'Idd villages was established. Soldiers began harassing residents and damaging property. Life in Occupied Palestine is hard enough. In Firing Zone 918, it's harder. In 1999, the area was first designated for military use. Around 700 Palestinians were displaced.

In 2000, an interim High Court of Justice (HCJ) injunction halted evacuations. For over a decade, residents lived in limbo. They face constant threat of demolition, displacement and dispossession.

Israel claims nomadic Bedouin culture constitutes nonpermanent residency. Villagers challenge lawless rulings for their rights. International law backs them. School records show they're permanent residents. Land they live on is theirs. They've been there for generations or longer. Displacing them has no legal standing. Israel does it anyway. It wants residents from eight to 12 villages displaced.

In early August, masked IDF soldiers raided Jinba village. They raided homes, searched them, damaged property, and mapped the site. Residents know they're targeted for dispossession. Helicopters landed and took off six times. Soldiers were ferried in. Outside Jinba, a command center tent was erected. During the raid, dozens of Yatta village students were there. Masked, armed soldiers terrified them. Villagers weren't told what's at stake. Days earlier, similar operations were conducted in two other villages. Tuba and Magher al-Abeed residents were mistreated.

In response to Jinba's raid, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) lawyer, Tamar Feldman, said Israel's 2000 High Court decision let them continue village life unobstructed. In early August, that changed.

Attorney Shlomo Lecker called raiding Jinba a "heavy-handed violation of the injunction issued by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak in 2000." Israel violates international law, its own, and High Court rulings repeatedly. At the time, an IDF spokesman said details on its operations aren't provided.

One resident spoke for others, saying: "Farming is in our soul and in our blood. If they take this away, we will be destroyed." It's happening to hundreds of Palestinians in eight to 12 villages.

On August 20, Haaretz columnist Amira Hass headlined "A proper Zionist live fire zone," saying:

Israel's army and Civil Administration have been "impos(ing) their authority as the supreme sovereign…." Closed military zone orders deny Palestinians their legal rights.

Hundreds of shepherds and farmers grazed livestock and cultivated land long before Israel existed. Israel wants generations of tradition ended. Indigenous inhabitants face displacement and dispossession. Mahmoud Jabarin lives in Live Fire Zone 918. Soldiers stole his tractor. Jinba goats disappeared. A day later they were found alive and well. Tractor driver Hamza Jabarin was detained. He's being lawlessly held.

In mid-August, Civil Administration personnel impounded two vehicles near Mufaqara village. They claimed fire zone orders were violated. In May, other confiscations occurred. A vehicle taking teachers to school was affected. Palestinians expect repeated incidents. Lawful residents are losing homes, other property, and land. Events on the ground comprise "a continuum of space and time."

What's at stake outweighs individual abuses. In affected areas, laws are enacted. Master plans follow. Military orders are issued. Palestinian rights are sacrificed for Jewish ones. "The continuum of time is also erasing the pre-1967 border." What happened in the Galilee earlier (Live Fire Zone 9) is planned. Seven new Jewish communities will replace Bedouin ones. It's been ongoing for decades.

Palestine is being stolen dunum by dunum for [by] Jews. Headlines don't explain. When firing zones aren't used as pretexts, other scams are created out of whole cloth. Land Israel wants is declared unauthorized and illegal. Longtime residents are displaced. Homes and property are demolished. What once was no longer exists. It began in 1948. It never ended.

A Ramallah bypass (Route 60) road sign explains much. Givat Asaf outpost overlooks the junction of three Palestinian villages. Their traditional route has been blocked for years. Jews only get easy passage. The road heads to Beit El settlement. The sign says:

"We're home. Here in Beit El 3,800 years ago, the Land of Israel was promised to the Jewish people by the Creator of the Universe. By force of this promise, we sit today in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Shiloh and Hebron."

Extremist Jews most of all believe this rubbish. Deeds and other documents justify nothing. Palestinian rights don't matter because they're Arabs. They're to be used and abused, not respected. Hass said the sign in question was erected five years ago.

"(W)ouldn't it have been proper (now to say) 3,805 years ago, the Creator of the Universe ordered us to prevent the residents of (three Palestinian villages) from sowing their wheat and tending to their olive trees?"

Right over might wouldn't have stolen their land in the first place with more ahead planned.

A Final Comment

On August 24, a largely one-sided New York Times debate asked "Has Support for Israel Hurt US Credibility?"

Seven opinions followed. None explained what's most important. Rule of law issues were avoided. Criticism wasn't strong enough. Condemnation of wrongs can't be compromised or softened. Touching the right nerves has to draw blood every time. A little isn't enough. Pour it out until it's bled dry. Fighting a beast requires slaying it. Times debaters fell short. Two explained what everyone needs to know. They stopped short of full disclosure. The others weren't worth the pages they were printed on. Some were embarrassing. Contributors avoided major issues. They lied for Israel, hung Arabs out to dry, and championed a destructive US/Israeli relationship. They should have condemned it forthrightly. Perhaps they know little about longstanding Israeli lawlessness or won't say. Their readers won't find out without learning on their own. Coverup and denial lets abusive practices continue. What's worse than potential nuclear war if Israel and/or America attack Iran? Contributors didn't explain.heavy-handed violation of the injunction issued by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak in 2000.

Stephen Lendman: I was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. Raised in a modest middle class family, attended public schools, received a BA from Harvard University in 1956 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of PA in 1960 following 2 years of obligatory military service in the US Army. Spent the next 6 years as a marketing research analyst for several large US corporations before becoming part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at the end of 1999. Have since devoted my time and efforts to the progressive causes and organizations I support, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. My efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. Also co-hosting The Global Research News Hour, occasional public talks, and frequent appearances on radio and at times television. I also am a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. I live in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit my blog site and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. My new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered HERE.

Photo: (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)


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