Guest contribution by Joy Ellison
There is nothing left to say about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Over the last 64 years, more than enough ink has been spilled decrying Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians. At this point, no one can claim not to know what is happening. There is no need to continue writing about the 25-foot-high wall that snakes throughout the West Bank or the checkpoints slow Palestinian daily life to a crawl. There is no need to write more about the illegal Israeli settlements that perch on the hills of Palestine or the thousands of Palestinians held inside Israeli prisons. Whatever journalists write, nothing changes. Nothing, except the number of Israeli settlers and the number of Palestinian political prisoners, both of which grow daily. In the face of these grim realities, what can any of us say? It’s all been said before.
Israel’s politicians and military authorities themselves seem to be out of fresh ideas. Here in the South Hebron Hills, Israeli occupation authorities are reprising their favorite strategies as they continue their efforts to drive Palestinian communities out of the area. On December 4, soldiers demolished the mosque in the village of Mfagraha for the second time. The threat of demolitions is always present in this rural area. One member of the village reports that an Israeli soldier told him, “Today we demolish the mosque but as soon as we get the court order we will demolish your house as well.”
Israeli soldiers may soon get a court order to raze eight villages in the South Hebron Hills — for the second time. One thousand Palestinians living in these villages have been told they must leave their homes because their villages are located in Firing Zone 918. Israel’s army claims that this area is used for military training exercises and that these Palestinians are only temporary residents. On January 16, Palestinians from the targeted villages will petition the Israeli High Court of Justice to rescind the military order that displaces them. Anyone who is willing to look can see two things plainly. First, entire Palestinian families live in the eight villages scheduled to be razed. There is nothing temporary about their homes. Second, only Palestinians are being ordered to leave the area. Israeli settlers will be allowed to stay.
Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills will not be removed from their homes silently. In 1999, Israeli soldiers loaded Palestinians from the same villages onto trucks and dumped them on the side of the nearest bypass road. But the communities didn’t give up. They brought their case to the High court and waged a media campaign to draw attention to their plight. They won the right to return to their villages temporarily and brought an ignored area international attention. Once again these communities are struggling to stay in their homes. They can win again, if people all over the world are willing to support them.
The truth of the mass displacement in the South Hebron Hills and the rest of the Israeli occupation is embarrassingly obvious: Israel has established a system of apartheid enforced by a military occupation. The UN general assembly’s vote in favor of Palestinian statehood, ineffectual as it might be, is further evidence that the world knows what is happening in Palestine. With every passing year, the United State’s unreserved support of Israel grows more shameful. There is nothing left to say about Israel’s cruel occupation. It’s time for action; time to join the global grassroots movement to end Israeli impunity.
I, for one, have nothing more to say except this: Prime Minister Netanyahu, we can see exactly what the Israeli army is doing in the South Hebron Hills and we are ready to act.
Joy Ellison is writer, graduate student, and activist. For updates about the campaign against displacement in the South Hebron Hills, follow “Humanity Together” on Facebook or @j_in_tuwani on Twitter.