Veteran Haaretz reporter Amos Harel had a long article today about the settlements and their outposts. How appropriate that in this period of Jewish national mourning over the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple, we have articles like this one that chronicle the moral rot at the heart of Israel's settlement enterprise – an enterprise that manages to connect robbery, theft, and the destruction of lives under the name of ge'ulat karka, redeeming the land.
This is how Harel finishes the piece:
One of the most obvious things learned from every visit [to the Territories] is the extent to which things are done in a planned way, to this day. It is hard to miss the destroyed terraces in the settlement of Adam or the sight of the sewage flowing from Psagot, not far from the Binyamin regional council building, straight into the wadi that runs to the adjacent Palestinian town of El Bireh. But in those very same settlements live upstanding citizens, who would not cheat the grocer of 10 agorot and who would go out in the middle of the night to help a neighbor stuck on a dark road. In the outposts live scores of officers in the career army and the reserves, who serve in elite units and win citations for their courage. At the same time, according to the official state data, many of them have built their dream homes, a modest mobile home or a more luxurious villa, on land that has been stolen from someone else by force.
Much of Harel's piece is all-too familiar territory, but that does not make it less powerful. If you are a reader of this blog who cares about Israel and wants to see the settlement abomination stopped – do me a favor, and send this link, Harel's article, to members of your family.
If you care about Israel, Jews, or humanity, you will do all you can to stop the madness.
Here are some excerpts:
The outposts are a continuation of the settlements by other means. The sharp distinction Israel makes between them is artificial. Every outpost is established with a direct connection to a mother settlement, with the clear aim of expanding the takeover of the territory and ensuring an Israeli hold on a wider tract of land. Construction in the outposts is integrated into the overall plan of the settlement project and is carried out in parallel to the seizure of lands within and close to the settlements.
The outpost Migron is surrounded by a fence, guarded and connected to the necessary water and electricity infrastructures. Its "ascent to the land," even though it was done on private Palestinian property, and despite the fact that it was undertaken in a deceptive manner, has received backing and practical support from the state. The security establishment's declaration to the High Court of Justice this week that it would take more than a year to implement the compromise agreement, whereby the inhabitants of Migron would be moved to the adjacent settlement of Adam, shows that this backing is still in place.
The settler establishment's efforts are now aimed in other directions - building in the settlements and veteran outposts (often involving the smuggling in of parts of mobile homes, because the Civil Administration is now preventing the transport of such homes in their entirety) and taking over agricultural lands, some of which are privately owned by Palestinians. The advantage of the latter tactic is that maximum area is obtained with a tolerable monetary investment and a low profile is maintained. Dirt roads are being blazed, vineyards are being planted and the actual area of the settlements is growing, dunam by dunam.
Behind every settlement action there is a planning and thinking mind that has access to the state's database and maps, and help from sympathetic officers serving in key positions in the IDF and the Civil Administration. The story is not in the settlers' uncontrolled behavior, though there is evidence of this on some of the hilltops, but rather in conscious choices by the state to enforce very little of the law.
Palestinian lands have been swallowed up inside settlement fences, and their legal owners are being denied access to them. When the Civil Administration data on land ownership is superimposed by computer imaging onto aerial photographs of the settlements, a surprising picture emerges. Often, there are large enclaves. It is not at all difficult to identify them on the ground because in most cases private homes are not built on them. An inhabitant of a settlement is not going to want to risk having his home be on privately owned Palestinian land.
At the same time, veteran and well-established settlements are annexing, de facto, lands outside the fence. Thus, for example, vineyards have miraculously sprung up on lands owned by Palestinians around the settlement of Psagot.
Taking over the private property of someone who belongs to the neighboring people is a common phenomenon in the West Bank, even in recent years. We aren't talking here about things that happened back in 1948. It is possible, of course, to describe these moves as a necessary part of the life-and-death struggle between the two peoples, in the name of which nearly all means are justified.
It is also possible to call them old crimes that need to be dealt with, and the sooner the better. But the fact that Israel committed war crimes in 1948 and since, does not justify continuing the same crimes today. When a criminal is caught stealing a car, he can't reply that he has been stealing them for years and nobody called him on it. Is it wrong to steal somebody's land or not? That is the fundamental question. And if it is wrong, why are we still doing it?