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A snapshot of the occupation before October 7th

2 min read
Screenshot of a the cover page of the report

If you think that violence started on October 7th, this report, written by 18 Israeli human rights organizations just 3 months ago, may help clarify. Here is the executive summary. It's a quick read and a great overview of the harms of occupation. I am republishing the executive summary below.

"oPt" in the report means "Occupied Palestinian Territories"

56 years have passed since Israel occupied the oPt. On this regrettable anniversary, 17 human rights organizations have come together to present a unified situation report on four themes: Israeli security forces’ violence, annexation, displacement, and the attack on NGOs. These four themes feed into each other, comprising the critical interlocking elements of the current Israeli policy of occupation.

Unjustified, disproportionate, and illegal violence by Israeli security forces towards Palestinians has always been an integral element of the occupation. Analysis shows a threefold trend: 1. Certain violent policies continue, with no change seen or foreseen (such as torture in interrogations and night arrests of children). We are especially concerned with the almost total lack of accountability for attacks on Palestinians across the oPt. 2. Since the start of 2022, a notable and clear rise is apparent in the number of Palestinians shot and killed in the West Bank. Again, the impunity for these killings and for killings in Gaza is practically absolute. 3. Israel’s (current) 37th government is planning and advancing several disturbing bills that would decrease Israeli accountability even further and stymie human rights organizations.

Over the decades, the process whereby over a million dunams of Palestinian land have been gradually re-categorized as Israeli ‘State land’, and the legal distinction between settlers and other Israeli citizens blurred, has been termed ‘creeping annexation’. One factor has been the creation of a two-tier legal reality in the oPt, whereby only Palestinian lives and property are governed by military laws and orders. So extreme is the situation that Israel’s actions in the West Bank today are considered by most to meet the criteria of apartheid as defined in international law. The current trajectory is an advance of full annexation via numerous individual laws and administrative modifications, including structural regime changes, construction on the ground, and further curtailment of Palestinians’ rights. Together, these changes will expedite the annexation of the West Bank, deepen Gaza’s isolation, and further cement the annexation of East Jerusalem.

Historically, Israel has worked to fragment the oPt through barriers, settlements, military zones and infrastructure projects; to date, it has allocated over 99% of the West Bank’s occupied ‘State land’ for Israeli use, systematically dispossessing Palestinians of land and natural resources. Current state-sanctioned displacement efforts focus on two main areas: East Jerusalem and Area C. In both regions, the main means employed are tendentious legal mechanisms, overtly discriminatory planning and enforcement policies, and the appropriation of Palestinian land for military use. The displacement of Palestinians is also advanced by the violence deployed by Israeli settlers, with the collusion of Israeli military forces; we note that this violence has become more egregious in the last year.

Civil society’s ability to monitor, document and resist these and other policies has come under attack, with the previous and current governments impeding and actively attacking human rights NGOs. The most worrying instance has been the criminalization of six Palestinian NGOs by the previous Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz. The current administration has continued along the same path, and is promoting several deeply disturbing anti-democratic measures, each of which would by itself thwart civil society.