Do you want the good news or the bad news?
I’ll end on the positive note. Bad news first then.
Remember those solar panels in the West Bank that the Palestinian Authority-controlled media said were “circumventing” Israeli policy? Well, Haaretz — i.e. Israeli independent media — has ironically published a far more damning protrayal of what Israel has been doing. Admittedly this comes from Akiva Eldar, a journalist who has been known to make questionable claims on scant evidence (for instance, he recently claimed that Australia’s Jewish community is being turned-off by Israel’s right-wing coalition’s policies, based on an interview with one person, who happens to be a member of a left-wing Israeli organisation).
Nevertheless, Eldar makes a very valid point: the impending demolition of these panels highlights the frankly unjustifiable dichotomy between the way that Palestinians and Israelis are treated in area C. In the excerpt below, Eldar is alluding to the settlement outposts that the Israeli High Court has actually ruled illegally built on private Palestinian land and issued demolition orders as a result. Coalition partners Israel Beitenu are currently in the process of retrospectively legalising these outposts so they are not demolished.
It happened last Wednesday. Civil Administration officer Nabil Tafsh arrived at Youssef Awad’s hut accompanied by a bulldozer. Awad told Rabbis for Human Rights representatives summoned to the site that the official informed him he had one minute to leave the hut and remove the sheep from their pen. Two soldiers forcibly removed Awad and, in a flash, the bulldozer flattened his minimal possessions into a pile of rubble.
… Around 1,500 people in 16 communities, that have been in the area since the 19th century, now benefit from energy produced by these installations, which provide lighting and electricity to their modest dairy product business. A few weeks ago, the Israeli administration – the one that arranges to run high-tension lines over their heads to supply illegal outposts – decided to issue work stoppage orders to five installations. The demolition orders expected to follow will darken the homes of 500 people. Children will revert to straining their eyes as they do their homework in the light of oil lamps, and the women will go back to churning butter and cheeses with blistered hands.
… Civil Administration officials are busy with Palestinians’ wind turbines and goat pens. No wonder, then, they have no time to deal with a few structures that settlers are building on stolen lands. Not just stolen from Palestinian landowners, but also from the Palestinian Authority.
Two days ago, Haaretz published a list of outposts that are moving into agricultural plots in Area B, which is under Palestinian Authority civil control. A petition submitted to the High Court of Justice on Monday by a resident of the northern West Bank village of Amatin, with the assistance of Yesh Din, shows that the name of the Havat Gilad outpost was omitted from the list.
The petition claimed that people from the outpost built two houses on Palestinian land, contrary to the law and the Oslo Accords. The inspectors are in no rush to go back there. The last time, they got out by the skin of their teeth. Regarding this matter as well, there was no comment from the Civil Administration.
And the good news? Well, remember the Sudanese refugees who flee to Israel through the Sinai, dodging Bedoins who kidnap and torture them, as well as Egyptian soldiers who shoot them on sight? Well, the Tel Aviv municipality and local residents have decided that they can’t let them sleep out in the cold any longer once they reach Israel, and have begun building shelters and supplying hot meals to them.
The Tel Aviv Municipality and the organization “Lasova” on Monday opened a temporary shelter for the dozens of homeless African migrants sleeping in Lewinsky Park in South Tel Aviv.
The municipality said the two metal and canvass structures will be broken down each morning and reassembled at night until the end of the winter weather.
On Monday evening, around 50 Africans lined up for free soup handed out by missionaries from a local evangelical church, who also handed out bibles in a number of languages. A number of the migrants also milled around the two shelters, each of which included around 40-50 cots covered with thin foam mattresses.
This is definitely encouraging and hopefully signals a shift in the way these African refugees are dealt with. They present a very complicated situation for Israel to deal with, the reasons why are beyond the scope of this post but will hopefully be addressed in future. That said, it could simply be that the Secular and educated Israeli society that lives on the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa is growing further and further away from the rest of Israeli society.