Monthly Report February 2020

CURRENT SITUATION

In all of the West Bank, Palestinians have continued protesting against the "Deal of the Century". They are clarifying to the world that the proposal advanced by the Trump administration is not at all a deal, but more of a plan to allow Israel to illegally annex huge parts of the Palestinian territory, including the Jordan Valley. Israeli armed forces responded to the protests with arms, sonic bombs and tear gas: numerous wounded and some victims amongst the Palestinians.
Even outside Palestine, in Europe and in the US, numerous activists demonstrated against the American proposal. After many delays, the United Nations Office for Human Rights published a list, long awaited by the BDS movement, of 112 companies that work in the West Bank with Israeli settlements, which - along with the outposts - are illegal according to International Law.

In February, the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing presented an urban plan to the Jerusalem District for the construction of a new settlement of 9.000 units situated in the Atarot Airport, East Jerusalem. If the plan will be approved, it will be the beginning of a new settlement in East Jerusalem for the first time since 1997.
In the city of Jericho, West Bank, Palestinian horticultural products that are waiting to be exported are blocked by an economic war that has frozen most of the business between Palestine and Israel, stifling the already fragile economy of the West Bank. Israel has banned the import of Palestinian products, closing the access to the biggest farmer’s market. Israel has also blocked the shipment of West Bank products towards Jordan, the reference point for the export towards regional and European markets.
Products are now accumulating in the West Bank's markets, causing a collapse in prices and increasing the pressure on the already indebted farmers. Economic analysts say that if the block will not be removed within the month of March, farmers will lose the opportunity to ship dates (the biggest harvest to be exported) to Europe before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, endangering the profit of a whole season.


SHARING, WORK AND NEWS ABOUT VOLUNTEERS

In the South Hebron Hills, on February 10th, Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghyir-al-Abeed were forced to walk to school, both in the morning and in the afternoon, without the military escort in charge of their protection. Instead, they were escorted by the young activists of Youth of Sumud and Operazione Colomba’s volunteers. In the afternoon, while the activists were coming back home after having escorted the children, an Israeli settler stopped them trying to prevent them from using the road. The soldiers arrived and requested to see the documents of YoS’ activists in order to detain them. They did not ask for the settler’s documents, allowing him to walk away.
In the beginning of the month, in Susya village armed forces confiscated a movable school and an excavator that was utilized to build a playground. They also issued a stop working order for the playground. During the month, settlers and soldiers kept on harassing Palestinian shepherds in the area. Soldiers raided the village of Sarura on the night of February 13th, checking everyone’s documents. On February 22nd, settlers and soldiers warded off Palestinian shepherds who were grazing near the village of At-Tuwani, and detained four Palestinians and six international activists.
In the northern part of the Jordan valley, on February 22nd, around 4.000 Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli soldiers, reached the villages of Laqba and al Burj by hundred of buses and then raided them, staying there for four hours.
The shepherds of al-Ouja village, who were grazing sheeps near the illegal outpost of Omar Farm, have been harrassed by settlers and soldiers throughout the whole month. The settlers used off-road vehicles to chase shepherds and sheeps, and they put pressure on the soldiers to declare their zone a restricted military area in more than one occasion, thus preventing the shepherds to access the land during grazing season.
Palestinians in all of the West Bank have the feeling that the following months will be much harder, due to Israeli politicians who will try to get the settlers’ votes in the next forthcoming election, announcing new settlements and promising to annex the already existing ones.