Thursday

1st Sep 2016

NGOs highlight Israeli destruction of EU-funded projects

NGOs have highlighted Israel's ongoing campaign to ethnically cleanse occupied territories as EU ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the problem.

Data compiled by the European Commission, the UN and local activists shows that in the past year Israeli authorities demolished 22 water cisterns and 37 residential and agricultural structures funded by EU member states.

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  • Armoured Israeli bulldozers in training near Gaza border (Photo: Israel Defence Forces)

They have also issued demolition orders and "stop-work" orders against a long list of other EU-funded schemes, including: 14 water cisterns; 34 water sanitation facilities; eight solar energy schemes; two schools and a medical centre.

In one example on 13 February, Israeli bulldozers damaged Polish-funded repair work to an ancient well in the "illegal" Palestinian village of El Rahawia in the West Bank at the same time as flattening the village itself and making 83 people homeless.

In another case on 23 April, the Israeli army destroyed two French-built Palestinian wells in the Hebron area prompting a public complaint by the French foreign ministry.

The commission estimates that Israel smashed up €49-million-worth of EU-funded projects in total in the 2001 to 2011 period.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday (14 May) are set to agree a three-page-long statement detailing complaints about displacements in the West Bank.

But Israeli-friendly member states - chiefly Italy and the Netherlands - have quashed suggestions by EU embassies in the region to impose penalties, such as blocking imports of Israeli-settler-made products or an EU visa ban on settler radicals.

The destruction of EU-funded projects is the tip of the iceberg.

According to the UN-linked NGO, the Displacement Working Group, Israel demolished 267 Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank in the first four months of this year. It demolished 622 last year.

At the same time, it has legalised some 7,500 new housing units for Jewish settlers, while giving free rein to violent attacks by settlers against natives.

"The highest price is paid by vulnerable men, women, and children whose rights are violated as they are deprived of water," Ayman Rabi, from local NGO the Palestinian Hydrology Group, noted.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank after a war against neighbouring Arab states in 1967.

Its step-by-step resource-gobbling has seen the Palestinian population in the occupied Jordan Valley, for instance, go down from between 200,000 and 320,000 to 56,000 today. At the same time the Jewish population has gone up from 1,200 to 310,000.

Israeli soldiers earlier drove out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. The refugees and their descendants still live in camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and are forbidden from going home.

The Palestinians mark the 1948 events under the name "nakba" or "catastrophe" each 15 May. Last year, Israeli soldiers killed at least 14 of them when groups marched in protest to the Israeli border.

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