Tuesday, April 21 2020 This week – April 5-12, 2020 – in the Occupied Territories

Taking advantage of the general closure (imposed by Israel to prevent Corona-virus spread), the Jewish settler-colonists are constructing a series of new settler-colonist outposts on the hill range around Auja, expanding and building in the illegal outposts already existing in the South Hebron Hills, invade with their flocks sown Palestinian fields inside Area C and causing extensive damage to their Palestinian neighbors, nearly always without any interference by Israeli army and police; Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills have put up a network of checkpoints manned by volunteers in order to prevent the spreading of Corona among the rural communities there and the urban center of Yatta – the security official of settler-colony Carmel summoned the Israeli army in order to dismantle such a checkpoint at the entrance to the Palestinian hamlet of Umm Al Kheir; a fundraising campaign to aid shepherd families in need in the Palestinian Jordan Valley who are on the brink of famine following the state of emergency – update and link for donations at the end of the present report;

photo: Palestinian “Corona” checkpoint in the South Hebron Hills

Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank hill range
On the hill range, settler-colonists are taking advantage of the closure and putting up three new outposts in the space between Rimonim and Kokhav Ha-Shachar and Auja. The Israeli security forces are not preventing this construction, but are preventing activists from coming to document it. On Friday (April 10) the Israeli police once more prevented an association employee from coming to document the new outpost near Rashash, and fined him again although repeated checks with the authorities affirmed that association employees are allowed to come there even during closure.
In addition, the settler-colonists and their flocks continue to enter sown Palestinian fields around Tayibe-Rimonim, almost on a daily basis. Activists working for associations reached the sites nearly every day this week. When they come and film the goings-on, the settler-colonist leaves. On Sunday, April 12, after a blitz of phone calls by activists to the authorities, the Israeli army came there for the first time and ordered the settler-colonist and his flock away.

South Hebron Hills
Here too, settler-colonists are taking advantage of the closure to build in their illegal outposts. On Monday, April 6, a new caravan and tents were spotted near Palestinian Tawane, erected by settler-colonists from Havat Maon outside the wooded area, nor far from the new army post. On Wednesday, a concrete truck was documented ascending to Mitzpe Yair.
Close to Hali ravine in Tawane, 15 olive tree saplings were uprooted that had been planted by Palestinians in their privately-owned land several months ago. On Saturday, April 11, Palestinian landowners at Umm Al Arais discovered that settler-colonists had invaded their fields with livestock and caused extensive damage to the sown crops. In a nearby field from which settler-colonists had been ordered away by ruling of the Supreme Court, cadavers of sheep had been found, thrown there by settler-colonists of Mitzpe Yair (the only ones who dare approach the spot next to the outpost after years of attacking their neighbors and activists). In both cases, complaints were lodged with the authorities.
The occupation forces, whom international law considers responsible for preventing such incursions and destruction of Palestinian property, were busy elsewhere. On Monday, army and Civil Administration construction supervisors came to Umm Al Kheir to photograph an outdoor oven that has existed there for decades. On Saturday, April 11, soldiers reached the field of the Abu Kbeita family in the seam-line zone and broke the lock on the field’s gate.
Last Saturday, April 4, Palestinians of the area put up checkpoints at entrances to villages in order to prevent the entry of Corona-virus patients. The security official of settler-colony CFarmel saw such a checkpoint at the entrance to Umm Al Kheir and immediately summoned the army. A Civil Administration officer came and demanded of the inhabitants to dismantle the checkpoint within the hour, or else – army forces would arrive and “blow it away”. The checkpoint was not dismantled, and the threat was not acted upon.
Such checkpoints were also put up near Susya, and on the road from Tawane to Carmil. All in all, 21 such checkpoints have been erected around Yatta, manned 24 hours a day by volunteers from the area who ask questions and take people’s temperature, in order to prevent Corona virus patients from entering the various communities and Yatta town.

East Jerusalem
In Issawiya, Israeli police has let up on its harassment of the neighborhood inside, and is now focused on putting up checkpoints at the entrances to Issawiya, and distributing fines.
Last Friday, too, the weekly protest vigil at Sheikh Jarrah took place unhampered.

Yaacov Manor’s letter regarding the fundraising campaign to aid families in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley:

As everyone knows, we have been fundraising in order to help needy families in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley.

About 20,000 shekels have already been collected thanks to generous donations by our friends. Together with our Palestinians friends there, we have decided to transfer an initial sum of 10,000 shekels, to be distributed among the 50 most needy families. Since we ran up against bureaucratic obstacles and because of the closure, we asked Mahdi to purchase products on credit and give them out along with a committee chosen for this purpose. The food has been distributed and today, April 12, dry food stuffs were supposed to be fully distributed. We also solved the problem of money transfers and tomorrow they will be receiving the full amount.

We received good news today, of an organization called “Help the Farmers” (probably under the aegis of the People’s Party), who will purchase dairy products from the shepherds and market them in the towns and cities. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of fresh food for the sheep and goats, the shepherds are forced to feed the lambs with lamb milk, which considerably lessens the amount of milk for the production of cheese, and thus less income…
From various sources we learn that in many villages farmers have been organizing to help families who do not manage to balance their budget during closure time.
We are looking into more places in need of food and launch more fundraising campaigns.
On behalf of the team members – Daphne, Tzvia and Hanna,

For donations to needy Palestinian families in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, please contact
Yaacov Manor – 050-5733276