Sunday, April 5 2020 This week – March 29-April 4, 2020 – in the Occupied Territories

Israeli Police, Border Police and army persisted in their systemic harassment of the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem this week, in the midst of the worsening Corona-virus crisis: placing checkpoints, firing sponge ammunition and teargas grenades, arresting Palestinian inhabitants and fining them; lawbreakers from the settler-colonist outpost of Havat Maon (South Hebron Hills) were busy this week stealing from their Palestinian neighbors; Israeli soldiers violently arrested a Palestinian youth near Palestinian Susya picking wild herbs, although the law declaring this plant a protected species has been lifted; settler-colonists from the West Bank hill-range outposts have been widening the track they opened around Rashash inside a nature reserve and firing zones, as well as founding a new outpost – Israeli police and army alerted to the site responded by chasing away Palestinian shepherds and fining activists, members of associations who are entitled by regulations of the Israeli Ministry of Health to work on the ground and document illegal works;
A settler-colonist blocking activists on their way to document the founding of yet another new settler-

photo: the Israeli army helping a settler-colonist block the activists (Photo: Rabbi Arik Asherman)

This week too, in blatant violation of the Ministry of Health’s regulations and any logic and fairness, large forces of the Jerusalem District Police continued their systemic harassment of inhabitant so this East Jerusalem neighborhood, in an attempt to provoke and incite them. Daily, large military forces entered Issawiya, put up checkpoints, caused crowding, and responded with massive firing of sponge ammunition and teargas grenades. Nearly every day, arrests were carried out. Most of the detainees were released the very same day. To the usual harassment, the policemen this week also added the emergency health restrictions to their usual claims and fined many inhabitants with thousands of shekels. In once case a boy was fined 5000 shekels although he was found 30 meters from his own home!

South Hebron Hills
In the area of the violent outpost Havat Maon near Palestinian Tawane village, bands of settler-colonists dismiss the emergency movement restrictions and come out to harass Palestinians. On Wednesday a group of them came down into privately owned Palestinian land in Humra valley and stole a bucket from the local water hole. On Friday a group of settler-colonists chased Palestinians picking herbs near Tuba and stole all the herbs they had picked. On Thursday it was soldiers from the army base near Susya who arrested a boy picking the same herb, restrained him and, according to him, beat him as well. A Palestinian activist passing by saw the goings on and intervened, reminding the soldiers that this specific plant is no longer on the protected list, and insisted the boy be released.
On Friday, Palestinian farmers from Susya were successfully plowing Hadar-family land close to “Flag Hill”. The plowing was coordinated with the army, whose troops were present and did not enable settle-colonists to disturb the farmers in their plowing.

Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank hill range
The support provided by the Israeli army and police to the illegal outposts of settler-colonists on the West Bank hill range reached new heights this week, and they did not even hesitate to make illegal use of the emergency health regulations in order to harm activists.
Since earlier in the week settler-colonists have renewed their work on the track around Rashash, including breaking into the fence of the army base there, and continuing the track through a nature reserve and a firing zone. On Thursday they were reported to bring construction materials and begin a new outpost, extension of the older one. An activist who is employed by an association permitted to act on the ground by the Ministry of Health came out to document this. ON his way he was stopped by army and Border Police forces who claimed they were taking care of the new outpost and forbade him access. In retrospect we found out that they did not even approach the new outpost. According to reports from afar, the new outpost already consists of tents, sheep pens and fences.
Consequently, on Friday, April 3, two activists of the same association went to the site. Their way there was blocked by a settler-colonist shepherd who summoned police, army and Border Police. They did not enable the activists to reach the new outpost and document it. The policemen claimed that the activists were forbidden to be there by emergency health regulations and fined them 500 shekels each although the activists explained that this was their job. The policeman on the ground refused to listen to a recorded conversation with the HQ approving the association workers arriving on the ground. Later when the activists came to Binyamin Police Station to lodge their complaint, a policeman refused to accept it. At the same time, the soldiers who claimed that they were on their way to prevent construction of the new outpost not only refrained from doing so, but instead chased away Palestinian flocks from the area.
After checking with lawyers the activists found out that there was no legal basis for the fines they received, and a request for trial is filed in order to prove this.
On their way to the police station, the activists noticed a settler-colonist from the outpost near Rimonim settler-colony, who as is his wont in recent weeks, entered sown Palestinian-owned land with his flock. They managed to document him, and presented the documentation to the police – that as usual did not bother to look into the matter.
On Tuesday, March 31, the occupation forces demolished a dwelling structure in the village of Jiftlik, northern Palestinian Jordan Valley.