Institutional Evil

BY AMOS GVIRTZ

I write these lines in a days-long state of agitation. Israeli soldiers came to the Palestinian hamlet of Al Hadidiya, in the Jordan Valley next to the Jewish settlement of Ro'i, and began to destroy the gravel track accessing the hamlet. Thanks to a temporary court injunction postponing this act of destruction, the soldiers were ordered to cease their destructive work. The next day, Israeli soldiers came again and demolished all dwelling and farming structures of three families there. On subsequent days soldiers came again and again, destroyed and confiscated the Red Cross tents that the inhabitants had received as an act of first aid. Under duress, the inhabitants covered themselves with plastic sheets to find minimal shelter from the cold and the rain. Again Israel's soldiers arrived in the middle of the night and removed those plastic sheets, leaving men, women and children completely exposed.

Sadly, this is not a singular case. We constantly witness such goings-on in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, in the South Hebron Hills, in Area E1 (near Jerusalem) etc. It is not an individual case of a wicked psychopath. It is State policy, aspiring to remove as many Palestinians as possible from Area C (which is under full Israeli domination) and force them to move into Areas A and B (partially in Palestinian control) of the West Bank. All this is done so that eventually Israel will annex Area C with as few Palestinians as possible.

Such acts happen not only in the Occupied Territories, but also in the Negev where Israel's government is demolishing hundreds of Bedouin homes every year. There too, this is done in order to uproot them from their villages and concentrate them in state-constructed townships.

Note that all of these evil deeds are done in the name of "the law". Israel has chosen not to recognize dozens of hamlets that were there in the West Bank long before it occupied the area. Later the Israeli army declared vast areas as firing zones. Surprisingly many of these hamlets are situated within these firing zones. Both unrecognized and within firing zones In short, there is no chance for both old and new construction to become legal. The army has stripped Palestinian planning committees of their authority and authorized itself in their stead. Naturally the army avoids issuing permits for construction, so that every attempt to build anything becomes illegal. Now the soldiers come equipped with "legal" demolition orders and ruin homes and villages, so that the inhabitants finally break and leave. And indeed, the system works. Slowly people do break and leave. It is called 'voluntary transfer'...

So here is a story of stubborn Bedouins who refuse to understand the system, Israeli law. In the early 1950s the military governor came to the Sheikh of the Al Turi tribe living in the Al Arakib area and announced that the army intended to hold maneuvers in the tribe's living area. For their own safety, they must leave, and half-a-year later, when the maneuver are over, they would be able to return. They were not allowed to return but a law was passed establishing that lands which remain unused – while the Bedouins were away – would become state land. Simply put: landgrab under legal guise. Some of the tribe members would not accept the state's act of robbery and returned to their stolen land. The return, in the eyes of the state, is a violation of the law. And whoever breaks the law must be removed from his land... It does not look good for the State to transfer its own citizens in peacetime. So what does it do? Destroys crops, demolishes homes, destroys the village! Wonder of wonders, some stubborn individuals refuse to understand that they are violating state laws and insist on remaining on their land. Thus they expose the true face of the State which commits immoral acts in the name of the law. Since transfer is bad for the State's reputation, the show of "law enforcement" is carried out until the inhabitants should break and leave "of their own free will".

The interesting part in all of this is that all of these evil acts do not entail casualties. And when there is no "blood" shed, the mainstream media simply do not show any interest in the victims. And when the media does not report, no one opposes these evil acts. And thus, unseen and nearly unprotested, a slow process of voluntary transfer is taking place – "legally".