Israeli occupation robs Palestinian records, lands

TEL AVIV – Indicative of the political strategy of the Sharon regime is the systematic robbery of archival material. 20 year ago, in the Lebanon capital Beirut, temporarily occupied by the Israeli army under 'Defense Minister' Sharon, the Palestinian Institute of Culture and Statistics was emptied by Sharon’s troops, all the documents and files, as well as works of art, had been confiscated and shipped to Israel. No one knows what has become of it.

During this recent re-occupation of the West Bank towns, all offices and institutions have been systematically ransacked and robbed of archives and statistic material by special Israeli army and security service experts. All files, computer hard drives and diskettes have been either destroyed or confiscated. These stolen materials include all historic official landed property registration files of Palestine, beginning from the latter half of the 19th century Turkish Ottoman rule and the 20th century British and Jordanian regimes. These materials are of irreplaceable scientific, cultural and traditional value for the Palestinian people. There is a specific purpose in destroying any official evidence of Palestinian property.

In the southern West Bank town Hebron (El-Khalil in Arabic) reside about 160,000 Palestinians and a group of 450 Jewish ultra-religious, who constantly clash and cause trouble for their Palestinian neighbors, under the protective umbrella of massive Israeli army and police forces. Recently an armed clash between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers led to settlers from the nearby Kiryat-Arba settlement to set up a new 'settlement outpost' on the spot of the clash. They aim to create a 'secure Promenade' between their Kiryat-Arba settlement and the Hebron 'Cave of the Patriarchs' settlement. In order to fortify this almost three mile Kiryat-Arba-Hebron road, the Israeli occupation army has started to demolish Palestinian houses along it.

Hebron’s city hall stated, in a press communication, that these houses and neighborhood, designed to be destroyed by the occupation power, are part and parcel of this old city, and of special cultural and historic value.

On Dec. 5, the Israeli Peace Now Movement protested this newest anti-Palestinian drive in Hebron. Settlers attacked them and during the melee, police arrived and took sides with the settler gang, and temporarily detained some of the peace activists.

Peace activist and Gush-Shalom peace bloc leader Uri Avnery sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein asking him to act to prevent the expropriation. Avnery asked the AG to inform the Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense about the illegality of this newest move in Hebron. Avnery also sent a letter to the commanding officer of the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank, General Moshe Kaplinsky, warning him, that since he signed the order to expropriate the land and to destroy the buildings he may be charged with war crimes.



The author can be reached at pww@pww.org