Sunday, April 19 2020 This week – April 12-18, 2020 – in the Occupied Territories

Steep escalation persists in settler-colonist attacks against Palestinians and their property, supported by the Israeli army and police: the violent settler-colonists of South Hebron Hills, the Palestinian Jordan Valley and the West Bank hill range venture out in groups to chase away shepherds from their grazing grounds, invade with their own cattle sown Palestinian fields, throw stones at Palestinian farmers; Israeli soldiers beat up a Palestinian activist accompanying a shepherd near the Palestinian village of Tawane, grabbed his camera documenting the event and returned it without its memory card; large Israeli forces put up carriers in the South Hebron Hills and confiscated Palestinian vehicles; instructed by the Carmel settler-colony security official, the Civil Administration forced the Palestinian inhabitants of Umm Al Kheir to dismantle the Corona barrier they had put up at the entrance to their village; settler-colonists from a new outpost in the West Bank hill range attacked an encampment of Palestinian shepherds – the Israelei army arrived and took three of the Palestinians into custody; Policemen issued fine tickets amounting to a total of 35,000 shekels to 7 of the weekly protest vigil participants at Sheikh Jarrah (an East Jerusalem neighborhood) although the vigil is legal and meets the strictest restrictions of the Israeli Ministry of Health; the Jerusalem District Police shut down a Corona clinic in Silwan (another East Jerusalem neighborhood) with the highest rate of Corona-virus patients in that part of the city.
According to OCHA data, since early March, the weekly average number of settler-colonist attacks wounding Palestinians or damaging their property has grown by 80% compared to the average seen in January and February of this year.

photo: Protesters fined 5000 shekel each at the weekly Sheikh Jarrah vigil on the false claim of violating the Ministry of Health restrictions

South Hebron Hills
Settler-colonists from Havat Maon continued this week, again, to take advantage of the absence of Israeli activists on the ground, harassed their Palestinian neighbors, and were aided and abetted by the Israeli army. On Wednesday, April 15, the settler-colonists went out in two groups towards the shepherds in the Humra ravine and headed as well towards the outer house of Tawane village. The villagers came, followed by army forces. On Friday, again, settler-colonists came out of the outpost to Humra ravine and tried to chase away Palestinian shepherds. The army joined them and chased the shepherds away from their privately-owned land, and according to the report, also beat up a youth suffering from Down’s Syndrome. The next day, Saturday April 18, an activist from Tawane accompanied a shepherd grazing around Haruba for fear of the settler-colonists. Shortly thereafter, settler-colonists from Havat Maon came out to them, followed by an army Humbee. The soldiers chased the activist, pushed him down to the ground, beat him up and grabbed the camera he was using to document the incident. Later it was returned to him without its memory card.
On Tuesday large forces of army, police and Border Police put up barriers at the Umm Daraj junction, at the entrance to Shaab A-Buttan, near Tawane, in the 918 firing zone and at Jinba. These barriers were used to inspect vehicles and several of these were confiscated. The soldiers from the barrier at the entrance to Shaab A Buttan prevented passage from local shepherds.
At Umm al Arais, a Palestinian landowner who had discovered last Saturday that settler-colonists from the outpost Mitzpe Yair had invaded his fields, returned on Monday this week to carry out farm work. Numerous settler-colonists arrived from the outpost, accompanied by army and Civil Administration personnel. According to the landowner, one of the settler-colonists threw stones at him and members of his family in the presence of the soldiers and a DCO officer, but they did nothing, only told him to lodge a complaint with the police. When he came there again on Saturday, April 18, policemen awaited him on the spot. They explained their arrival there (a farmland far from any village) to enforce the Corona restrictions, ordered him away and threatened him not to return, with the excuse of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s emergency instructions.
Umm Al Kheir villagers were forced to dismantle the checkpost they had put up at the entrance to their village as part of the local efforts to prevent the Corona virus from spreading in the area. Civil Administration officials, summoned by settler-colonists of Carmel, demanded it be dismantled because the road serves them as well. People who know the place realize that the track in question leads to a side gate of the settler-colony that is perpetually closed. About a week ago, Carmel colonists sprayed the vegetation near their fence with pesticides, thus killing 19 grown fruit trees belonging to Umm Al Kheir villagers, most of them almond, some olive trees.

The Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank hill range
Settler-colonists of the new outpost near En Al Hilwa, west of the Allon Road in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, have been sending their cattle into sown fields of Palestinians in the area, and chasing the Palestinian shepherds from their own grazing grounds. Settler-colonists of the outpost in Umm Zuka have begun to build a track inside the firing zone and nature reserve. On Thursday, April 16, a settler-colonist from the new outpost near Hemdat colony blocked Palestinians from communities in the area, and only repeated calls of Israeli activists to the authorities, caused the army to come there and open the way for them.
In the West Bank hill range, daily incursions by settler-colonists of the new outpost near Tayibe junction with their flocks into Palestinian sown fields have been taking place. On Tuesday, April 14, settler-colonists from the outpost came to a shepherd community encampment, harassed the inhabitants, threatened, and apparently used physical force. The inhabitants tried to chase them away and reported to activists. When an activist came to the spot he found an Israeli army force there, and three Palestinians arrested on false charges made by settler-colonists who claimed they had attacked them. The arrest of all three was extended until Monday, April 20. See report on the new Facebook page on goings-on in the Palestinian Jordan Valley:
https://www.facebook.com/OccupiedJordanValley
The same day, activists managed to document the new outpost near Rashash.

East Jerusalem
In the neighborhood of Silwan, Israeli police shut down a Corona-testing clinic this week, claiming it had been organized by the Palestinian Authority. See report in Haaretz newspaper:
“Police closed down Corona-testing clinic in Silwan operated with the aid of the Palestinian Authority”
According to reports of the weekend, the number of Corona-virus infected persons in Silwan has been rising at a rapid pace and is the greatest in all of East Jerusalem.
In Issawiya a certain calming down has been noted. Police has been entering the neighborhood much less now, and is only conducting patrols in order to fine whoever is found not wearing a mask. There are several Corona-infected patients in the neighborhood, and one of them died this week.
At the weekly protest vigil in Sheikh Jarrah last Friday, the Israeli police made illegal use of the Ministry of Health’s emergency measures, and imposed heavy fines on the protesters. A short while before the vigil a police car stopped next to the first protesters to arrive, and told them that the vigil was outlawed by the emergency instructions regarding the Corona virus. When other protesters arrived, they stood according to the latest instructions and even kept a greater distance from each other. The 12 protesters stood in three groups at distances exceeding dozens of meters, and over 2 meters distance was kept between individual protesters. A few minutes later 4 police cars arrived on the scene, policemen took the IDs of 7 participants and fined them 5000 shekels each. The policeman in charge refused to look at the instructions that allow protest vigils at this time, when they were presented to him. The subject has been handed over to legal counsel.
We have checked with our attornies time and again: the protest vigil is perfectly legal and answers all of the emergency instructions issued for this Corona-virus period. We shall be there next Friday as well. Please join us, to protest the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes and transferring these homes to settler-colonists, as well as the attempts by Israeli police to use the emergency measures in order to impair our freedom of protest.