Israel accelerates land theft in West Bank

Girl and woman stand near the debris of destroyed infrastructure

Palestinians inspect the damage caused by an Israeli military invasion in the Nur Shams refugee camp in the city of Tulkarm in the West Bank on 21 March.

Ayman Nobani DPA via ZUMA Press / APA images

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been subjected to a constant saga of Israeli slaughter and land grabs since 7 October.

Israeli occupation forces demolished nearly 460 Palestinian homes last year, leaving more than 1,000 children without a safe home. This figure does not include other structures belonging to Palestinians destroyed by Israeli authorities.

Now, Israel is accelerating land theft in the occupied West Bank, conducting assassinations of resistance fighters and killing children across the territory, despite repeated warnings that continued Israeli aggression would bring about an eruption.

Israel approved the siezure of one of the largest chunks of land since the Oslo Accords were signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s.

Bezalel Smotrich, the ultra-far-right Israeli finance minister, declared nearly 2,000 acres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank as so-called “state lands.”

“We are promoting settlement through hard work and in a strategic manner all over the country,” Smotrich said last week.

The announcement was made on the eve of the arrival of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Israel.

“The size of the area designated for declaration is the largest since the Oslo accords,” Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said.

“The year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land,” the group added.

Declaring Palestinian land as “state land” is a legal maneuver aimed at confiscating land belonging to Palestinians by interpreting an Ottoman law that was utilized in a completely different context nearly two centuries ago.

This legal tactic enables Israel to circumvent the technical legality of land ownership, as “most privately owned land in the West Bank is not officially registered,” Peace Now said.

This declaration follows the US imposing token sanctions on three additional Jewish Israeli settlers earlier this month.

This is in addition to the four settlers sanctioned by the US last month, in an apparent attempt to divert attention from its complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Other countries, including France and the UK, followed suit.

These sanctions falsely convey the impression that settler violence is caused by a few bad apples, and sidestep the reality that Israel’s illegal state-directed policy of settler-colonization is inherently violent. The settlers are not acting as individuals but on behalf of the state whose goal is the theft and total control of all the land in the West Bank.

West Bank operation

Meanwhile, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a bus near the Israeli settlement of Dolev in the occupied West Bank on Thursday. Mujahed Barakat Mansour was chased by Israeli troops for hours before being killed by a missile fired by an Apache helicopter.

Mansour fled towards the nearby village of Deir Ibzi, his hometown, as Israeli troops arrived.

Despite relentless pursuit by Israeli forces for hours, he managed to find refuge in a densely planted area, evading capture. The Israeli army later released footage depicting the aerial assault on Mansour.

Israeli forces eventually resorted to an Apache helicopter, which fired two missiles at him, killing him, after which they attributed the several-hour manhunt to “cloudy weather conditions,” Haaretz reported.

One Israeli soldier was killed, and seven others were wounded during the operation.

The settlement of Dolev was established in 1983 on lands from the nearby Palestinian villages of Janiyeh, Ein Qiniya and Deir Ibzi.

Mansour previously worked at the Palestinian presidential guard before he resigned more than a decade ago. He was reportedly arrested in 2015 “on suspicion of security violations,” Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.

The Palestinian Authority, which collaborates with Israel, suppresses Palestinian opposition and resistance to help Israel maintain its occupation in the West Bank while promoting the illusion of Palestinian autonomy and representation.

It is noteworthy that a member of their forces would later change course and direct his weapon at the military facilitating settlement on land stolen from his and other neighboring Palestinian villages.

Israeli authorities now plan to punitively demolish Mansour’s family home.

Increase in resistance

Israel has escalated its lethal attacks across the occupied West Bank under the guise of targeting emerging armed resistance.

Israeli troops invaded the Nur Shams refugee camp on 20 March and killed four Palestinians, including two children.

Dozens of Israeli armored vehicles, including bulldozers, raided the camp east of Tulkarem city in the northern occupied West Bank and began bulldozing roads and underground infrastructure in the camp.

The Israeli army does this under the pretext of an increase in makeshift explosives planted beneath roads to target invading Israeli armored vehicles.

“We’re seeing IEDs in Bethlehem, in Hebron,” contributing editor Jon Elmer recently said, “from the southern tip of the West Bank to the northern tip of the West Bank, armed struggle, qualitative increase in armed struggle.”

Israeli troops caused extensive damage to the Nur Shams refugee camp’s infrastructure, including the complete destruction of the square adjacent to the camp’s main entrance. Israeli forces also damaged public and private Palestinian property in the camp, as reported by Wafa news agency.

Pictures circulated by local media show uprooted roads around the refugee camp, causing massive destruction to roads in commercial and residential areas.

An Israeli drone-fired missile killed two Palestinians, including a teenage child, as Israeli troops invaded the camp.

Iyad Nidal Kanouh, 17 years old, and another Palestinian man, Nidal Mamoun Abu Obeid, were killed in the strike. Israel then “deliberately delayed a Palestinian ambulance’s access” to them for two and a half hours, according to a field report by Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Israeli forces fatally wounded another Palestinian child in the camp by shooting him in the head hours later.

Abdullah Mahmoud Qaisi, 17, was allegedly participating in confrontations against the Israeli invaders in the refugee camp when soldiers shot him from a distance of 50 to 60 meters, then prevented ambulances from reaching him and another injured man, DCIP added.

Palestinians transferred Abdullah and the other man to a nearby mosque for hours until Israeli forces withdrew from the area and they were transferred to a nearby hospital.

Also on 20 March, an Israeli drone-fired missile struck a vehicle in the Jenin refugee camp, killing four Palestinians.

The Jenin Brigade, a group associated with Saraya al-Quds, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad resistance group, identified the victims as Ahmad Barakat, leader of military operations; Ziyad Hamran, who shot and injured members of Israel’s domestic spy apparatus, the Shin Bet, at the Gush Etzion junction near Bethlehem earlier this month, as well as members Mahmoud Rihal and Muhammad al-Fayed.
During the funeral procession of the four men, Palestinians demanded that the Palestinian Authority release detainees affiliated with the Jenin Brigade to allow them to bid farewell to their comrades before burial.

The PA violently suppressed the protests by firing tear gas canisters at funeral attendees, resulting in injuries to four people, one of whom sustained a head injury.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian man accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities was killed in the Jenin refugee camp on 21 March.

Paralyzing children

Israeli fire killed 32 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank this year, including two US citizens.

“Israeli forces’ nonstop brutality is facilitated by Western countries, especially the United States, which continue offering the Israeli government unconditional support and sending weapons to the Israeli military which are used to kill Palestinian children without consequence,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish of DCIP.

When Israeli fire is not killing Palestinian children in the West Bank, it is also leaving them paralyzed.

In February, a Palestinian teenager was riding an electric bike with another man when an Israeli military vehicle rammed into them, knocking them to the ground.

The young man managed to flee, while an Israeli soldier struck 17-year-old Amr Sweidan with the armored vehicle’s door as he tried to stand up.

An Israeli soldier then shot Amr from point-blank range while he was already on the ground. As Amr lay bleeding, DCIP reported, one of the soldiers placed his hand on Amr’s wound and shouted “die, die!”

Amr was eventually transferred to the hospital, where it was determined that the bullet fractured the cervical vertebrae in his neck, leading to spinal cord damage and paralysis of all four of the child’s limbs.

An 8-year-old child was shot in the neck by an Israeli soldier in early December, resulting in paralysis of his legs.

Kareem Sharaab was shot while he was standing with relatives near his family’s home in Awarta, near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

“A soldier came out from a military vehicle and fired a bullet at Kareem, striking him in the neck,” DCIP reported.

Kareem’s grandfather tried to transport him to a hospital by private vehicle. At a military checkpoint on the road toward the hospital in Nablus, DCIP explained, the grandfather “got out of the car carrying his injured grandson and attempted to walk towards the soldiers to pass through the traffic jam caused by the checkpoint. However, the soldiers refused to allow him to pass and asked him to place the child on the ground.”

The grandfather “refused to comply and continued walking until an ambulance met him on the other side of the checkpoint.”

The injury paralyzed Kareem’s legs, damaged nerves in his hand and caused him other medical complications.

Israeli soldiers killed more than 420 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 7 October, and at least nine were killed by settlers, the UN monitoring group OCHA has reported.

Of those killed, 113 were children.

Israeli forces and settlers have injured nearly 5,000 Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October, more than 700 of them children.




This was always Bibi's plan; to begin the final phase of the cleansing of the greater Israel. By establishing a provocation he could gain tacit support from American neo-zionists for a full out invasion and cleansing of Gaza and then the West Bank. The October events were even better orchestrated than the Nazi theatrics in Poland in 1939. Units were withdrawn from around the Gaza concentration camp, intelligence ignored and information leaked to Hamas leaders. The Hamas leadership had their own agenda and this seemed to the fools a golden opportunity. Even the "Rave" was moved to the border fence area to ensure there would be a significant number of useful victims. Once the attack was launched the IOF mismanaged the response in several calculated ways. A slow build up, poor communications and coordination ensured Hamas units could operate with impunity for hours and then when Hamas withdrew the tanks and gunships were let loose. Immediately following the attack the sanitisation of the crime scene took place and the disinformation campaign (carefully prepared) started.
The Gaza campaign is nearing its horrific climax, once the skeletal survivors are allowed to crawl into the Sinai the IOF will relocate to deal with the West Bank and the settlement building will start. Bibi hopes by carrying out this master-plan he will create a profound mythology that will ensconce himself as an untouchable hero and he will have achieved full control over Israel. Netanyahu is a man of profound evil and now he pretends to absolute power. He will of course fail, but how many innocents will die before he faces justice?

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.