Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Discovery Analytical Resourcing


    "We have conquered territories, but without settlement they have no decisive value . . . Settlement—that is the real conquest."

    David Ben Gurion (1949)

    "By the side of a path on a hillside north of Jerusalem hangs a sign offering a blunt riposte to those who harbour plans to tamper with the fate of the land. `Only the Bible is the roadmap of the Jewish people . . .'"

    Raffi Berg—Israel's religious settlers, BBC News (18 August 2003)


Executive Summary

  1.  Development Intensity

  2.  Instruments of Control

    A—Official Appropriation

    B—Influencing Policy

    C—Thuggery and Intimidation

  3.  Water

  4.  Agriculture


  5.  Movement of Persons and Goods


    B—Closure, Curfew and Checkpoints

    C—The Separation Barrier

  6.  Environmental Impact of Settlements

  7.  The Case of Al Mawasi, Gaza Strip

  8.  Some Priorities . . .

    A—Aid targets






  1.  Under the current Sharon administration, and in spite of multilateral attempts to revive peace negotiations for a permanent two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, settlement of the occupied Palestinian territories appears to be intensifying (specifically territorial expansion and employment of military forces).

  2.  The ideological disposition of certain factions in the settlement movement, notably that of Gush Emunim, throws doubt on Israel's political commitment to the advent of a sovereign Palestinian state.

  3.  Current economic difficulties in the occupied territories are a function of integrated Israeli policies (of which settlement of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues to be a key part) applied over an extended period and intensified under the pretext of "urgent military necessity" in response to the Palestinian intifada.

  4.  As a consequence, attrition of vital resources for the social survival of Palestinian communities has accelerated. Pressing issues are: freshwater quality, wastewater treatment, political stability, autonomy of access.

  5.  Economic recovery cannot be expected to endure without dismantling the "matrix of control" exerted over the minutiae of Palestinian society. Neither can aid organisations nor NGOs function effectively under conditions of blockade and oppressive disruption.

  6.  Short-run economic recovery will depend on investment support and the condition of basic resources restored to agriculture (and, for Gazans, fishing).

  7.  Active support should be given from the development aid sector to Palestinian calls for independent monitoring of the "Road Map" peace process and of field operations of humanitarian and developmental support organisations.

  8.  Israel is a High Contracting Party to international conventions on the conduct of occupying powers. All agencies interested in the region should lobby for an open debate of practical measures to end settlement pressure on the occupied Palestinian territories.


  1.1  Since 1990, settler population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (excluding Jerusalem) has grown at a rate of 5.2% per annum, 1 reaching 217,000 by 2002—approximately 6.5% of the total population of the occupied territories. Israel's structural plan for the West Bank alone targets a settler population of 310,000 by 2020, although if historic growth is sustained, the figure for the territories will exceed half a million inhabitants. The Israeli Interior Ministry listed the settler population in the Gaza Strip as 7,000 at December 2000 or 0.6% of the total Gaza Strip population of 1.2 million. Most settlements have fewer than 1,000 residents.

  1.2  Definition renders a precise figure problematic, but estimates vary between 145 (Peace Now) and 258 (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics) built-up settlement areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 19 of these being planted in the Gaza Strip. Following the implementation of the Quartet's "Road Map" peace initiative after the Aqaba summit at the end of June 2003, a number of outposts were dismantled to be replaced by an equivalent number of others (or, as in the case of Gilad Farm, Amona North or Neve Tzuf, reconstructed).

  1.3  Peace Now, the Israeli popular movement monitoring settlement development by aerial survey, has estimated at least 60 new outposts established between March 2001 and July 2003 (March 2001 being the point of return status quo ante for the "Road Map's" conditions to be fulfilled). Eight of these have sprung up since the Aqaba summit. The settler Yesha Council pledges to erect five new outposts for every one taken down, while settlers are individually petitioning the Israeli courts to stay demolitions. Peace Now has concluded: "there is no evacuation of outposts and no freezing of construction".2

  1.4  Throughout the period of occupation, Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has sought to contain the natural growth of Palestinian communities. Physical location of settlements at the entrances and peripheries of Palestinian urban areas has served to restrict the development and expansion of Palestinian conurbations (the Drobles Plan), while also increasing pressure on urban accessibility during ad hoc "security" closures. Over three-quarters of the settler population lives in 18 large urban developments, while some four-fifths of sites are occupied by less than 1,000 inhabitants (including areas of industrial zoning).

  1.5  As was remarkable during negotiation of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, a positive correlation has evolved between enhanced prospects for peace and an increase in settlement activity, or as sometimes expressed, a rush to create "facts on the ground". During the two years following signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 (freezing settlement), with the Rabin government in power, 170 km2 of land was confiscated in the West Bank. More recently, the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot in the first week of August 2003 reported 60 French-Jewish immigrants being brought under cover of darkness directly to the Ofra settlement in the West Bank Ramallah Governorate at 2 am to avoid unwanted publicity. 3 Shortly afterwards, the BBC's Raffi Berg filed a series of articles reporting from the settlements:

    "The battle over encampments built without government approval has already begun. Building work at some outposts has been accelerated. Some have been removed, only to be rebuilt and to multiply within days, while building work has intensified at other sites to turn the odd water tower or cluster of flimsy caravans into permanent structures in a race to scuttle the roadmap before it is too late." 4

  1.6.1  Settlement municipal boundaries extend far beyond current built-up areas, marking out territory for future settlement expansion within which temporary structures are put up to provide a token physical presence. Around each settlement, a "zone of security" is declared over contiguous strips of Palestinian land. Any entry onto or use of this land by the legal owners is prohibited by military order, enforcement of which may be carried out by armed settlement watch patrols or the Israel Defence Force (IDF), or at times both in concert.

  1.6.2  District boundaries have been subject to "stretching" arising from new settler outposts and military expropriations. The unacknowledged objective would appear to be territorial contiguity of settlement blocs and the increased "cantonisation" of pockets of the residual Palestinian population. Increased activity around the villages of Sinjil, Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya and Qaryut in the Ramallah Governorate is anticipated to herald future consolidation of the Ma'ale Levona, Rechalim and Eli settlements. These campaigns can be accompanied by impromptu attacks on Palestinian property, such as the arson attack on a petrol filling station in Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya on 24 December 2001. 5

  1.7  A considerable political commitment will be required from the Sharon government to meet the Quartet's "Road Map" objectives on settlements—it is not clear that the prime minister is leading a majority dedicated to achieving this end6—and for the near-future settlement activity is likely to remain vigorous.


A.   Official Appropriation

  2.1  The public mission of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) is to protect the inhabitants of Israel; that is, to defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state of Israel. 7 Clearly, as an army of occupation, the last three should not apply to the Palestinian territories.

  2.2  From the inception of the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Area Commander of the IDF assumed all legislative, executive and judicial powers, governing by decree (or "military order", hereafter MO). Military jurisdiction was comprehensively extended to cover, for example:

    —  transactions in immovable property (MO 25);

    —  power to expropriate land (MOs 108, 321); registration of public and private land (MO 364);

    —  transfer of rural land development authority, restrictions on municipal development (MO 418);

    —  the use of water and other natural resources (MOs 58, 59, 92; from 1982, authority transferred to the Israeli company, Mekorot);

    —  travel permits and licences to practise various professions (MOs 260, 324, 437);

    —  control over municipal and village councils (MOs 191, 194);

    —  proscription of import and export of agricultural goods to and from the West Bank without military authorisation (MOs 47, 49);

    —  Licensing and regulation of plant nurseries (MOs 1002, 1248); fruit trees (MO 1915); vegetables (MO 1039). 8

  2.3.1  By 1981, the formal establishment of a Civil Administration in the occupied territories set up local and district councils to administer settlements, transforming temporary "security" provisions into permanent legislation (MOs 783, 892, 947). The head of the Civil Administration, appointed by the Area Commander to administer specified legislation, remains accountable to the Area Commander and has no power to amend the legislative structure (except via secondary bye-laws). The Civil Administration has powers and responsibilities identical to its Israeli counterparts, concerning for example:

    —  regulation of economic activity: imports, exports, prices, finance;

    —  fiscal affairs: taxes, customs and duties;

    —  essential utilities: electricity, telecommunications and postal services;

    —  control over land and water;

    —  licensing of professions;

    —  control over tourism, roads and insurance;

    —  censorship of publications and textbooks. 9

  2.3.2  From the 1980s onward, the legal meaning of "Israeli resident" was extended to separate settler and indigenous communities under criminal and civil law, bringing the former group increasingly under Israeli jurisdiction (eg concerning such matters as military service, criminal prosecution, fiscal assessment, national assurance . . .). Any person whose place of residence was in the region or who qualified for Israeli citizenship (under the Law of Return 1950) was deemed an Israeli resident.

  2.3.3  In spite of the ambiguous legal status of the settlements—all illegal under international law, and many unrecognised by Israeli government policy—settlers are treated as inhabitants of Israel in as much as the Civil Administration in the occupied territories operates autonomously as part of the Israeli establishment. Settlers are excluded from the jurisdiction of West Bank courts.

  2.4  IDF security doctrine is broadly framed to cover a duty to combat all forms of terrorism that threaten daily life and to maintain a credible deterrent posture. 10 Owing to the absence of internationally-recognised sovereignty over the occupied territories, indigenous political resistance to the Israeli presence is often depicted as, or supporting an infrastructure of, "terrorism"—and very often classified as a threat to the security of Israel.

  2.5  Through a broad definition of concepts of security—neutralisation of potential threats by pre-emptive interventions—the IDF justifies its deployment in the territories, defending the de facto presence of Israeli "subjects". The impact of such intrusive military operations on Palestinian communities is to add an unpredictable nuance of violence to the progressive degradation of civil society, for which in practice there is no legal redress or compensation.

  2.6  Without settlement of the occupied territories, the presence of a full-time standing army would lack rationale under the IDF's operational doctrine. In considering the network of control that settlements exert over basic social conditions in the Palestinian territories, the trajectory of Israeli security policy and the operational conduct of the IDF needs to be taken into account as an instrument of enforcement of that control.

B.   Influencing policy

  2.7  Most political parties in Israel have affiliated settler movements connected to developments in the occupied territories—details of those most committed to the region are given in the table below. 11

  2.8.1  The most dedicated is the Amana movement of Gush Emunim ("bloc of the faithful"). Gush Emunim grew out of the National Religious Party's youth organisation, Bnei Akiva, in the 1970s and is motivated ideologically by a hybrid orthodox Jewish Zionism derived from a Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi during the Palestine Mandate, Abraham Kook. Three-quarters of Gush Emunim-affiliated settlements have a population of less than 1,000 (including Ma'ale Adumim).

  2.8.2  Gush Emunim does not work through a single political party platform, rather through developing behind the scenes influence across the political spectrum and on key consultative committees. Its "manifesto" revolves around vague long term visions of a Judaic national theocracy linked to immediate short term political goals—thus maintaining a broad appeal and avoiding the factional pitfalls of detailing specific programmes. The movement is highly influential on the Yesha Council and close connections are maintained with the National Religious Party, the Likud and smaller radical right parties (eg Moledet).

Political and Affiliated Settler Movements [Source: PALDIS]

Settlement movement

Affiliated sites in the occupied territories

Affiliated sites in Israel

Share of affiliated sites in the occupied territories
Proportion of movement's work carried out in the occupied territories
LikudHerut Settlement Division 131711% 43%
United Torah JudaismPo'alei Agudat Israel 3102.5% 23%
National Religious PartyHaKibbutz HaD'ati; HaPo'al HaMizrachi 199016% 21%
Gush EmunimAmana50 243%96%

NAHAL ("Pioneering and Fighting Youth") 635% 67%

  2.8.3  The movement had a significant influence on the Drobles Plan for settlement development, after the eponymous Gush Emunim associate Matityahu Drobles, formulated in the 1970s while Drobles was head of the Land Settlement Department. The Plan was adopted by both Labour and Likud governments of the day, incorporating 59 of the 60 sites proposed for development in an original petition submitted by Gush Emunim.

  2.9  Over the last decade, Gush Emunim's "fellow travellers" in the Knesset have commanded between 40-60 seats in the 120-seat chamber. Support for settler politics is not reflected in popular electoral dialogue in Israel, however: whereas the "National Union" coalition of radical right parties obtains upwards of 40% of the vote from settler constituencies in Israel's general elections, outside of the occupied territories support has rarely risen above 5%.

C.   Thuggery and Intimidation

  2.10  A less formal kind of control exerted by settlers occurs in the pervasive menace of vigilante attacks perpetrated on Palestinian communities. Villages bordering settlements have received visits from armed bands who threaten or assault residents and target for destruction essential village utilities. With these forays, settlers aim to persuade villagers to abandon their land and their homes.

  2.11.1  With the growth of settlements, independently organised armed "security" patrols emerged, particularly in the central West Bank. Under Military Order 898, issued in the early 1980s, settlers were given powers of arrest and interrogation without warrant for suspected offences carrying a prison sentence of five or more years. Military Order 1456 (June 1998) permitted settler "civil guards" to assist the IDF in security operations outside settlements, while Military Order 1457 (also June 1998) extended the authority of the "civil guard" to arrest, inspect and use force outside of settlements and away from supervision and control of the IDF. 12 Official IDF comment on the question of settler paramilitary activity asserts that armed settlers have powers to act in guarding settlements, regional defence and accompanying school trips only. 13

  2.11.2  Operating out of sight of the state law enforcement system, the activities of these groups are unmonitored and their performance as law enforcers beyond assessment. That armed gangs of settlers do participate in targeted escapades of a violent and destructive nature is widely and variously documented14, covering incidents of:

    —  use of firearms, stoning and beatings intended to cause grievous bodily harm or death;

    —  vandalising Palestinian communities: breaking windows, damaging vehicles;

    —  destroying essential resources (water, electricity supplies, solar heaters);

    —  disrupting economic activity (stealing crops, attacking workers during harvests, ransacking markets);

    —  permanently obstructing or digging up roads to render vehicular passage impossible.

  Often using all-terrain vehicles to speed access and getaway, recent news reports have detailed the use of light airplanes to drive Palestinian farmers from their land. 15

  2.12  The writer of this submission can verify that instances of assault, threatening behaviour and theft have been committed by armed gangs originating from the Itamar settlement in the Nablus Governorate. I have also seen attestations and circumstantial evidence of each of the above listed offences being committed over recent months by armed gangs from the same settlement. Donor projects are not spared: the village of Yanun has on two occasions had a generator burned out by marauding settlers.

  2.13  In spite of such incidents being reported to the police, prosecution of identified perpetrators has not been pursued to trial or conviction. In general, the record of the IDF and district police forces in either preventing or investigating these incidents is poor, with a significant number of offences being committed by settlers when security forces are present.

  2.14  In its most extreme manifestations, such intimidation has an ideological or religious fundamentalist justification and has as its objective the expulsion of non-Jews from the occupied territories. From time to time, high-profile acts of terrorism are carried out—such as the massacre of Palestinians at prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994—although more frequently observed has been the planting of explosives on Palestinian land abutting settlements. 16 Following an investigation by Shin Bet, the uncovering of a terrorist cell resulted in the arrest of nine settlers in late August 2003 (amongst whom, one serving soldier). 17


  3.1  All water resources in the occupied territories were confiscated by a Military Order of 1968 and declared Israeli state property. In 1982 the Israeli water authority Mekorot took control of these facilities. The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) was established under the Oslo Accords to take responsibility for water in areas to be controlled by the Palestine Authority ("Area A"), but Israel retains control over flow and volume quotas for Palestinian usage. All new water-related projects require Israel's consent in the Joint Water Committee, irrespective of area, from drilling wells to building reservoir networks. Where a project passes through "Area C" (Israeli sole control), the Civil Administration must be consulted for approval. Owing to the fragmented geography of Areas A and B, comprising dozens of enclaves, networks frequently need to pass through designated Area C.

  3.2  Figures vary as to the number of Palestinian communities throughout the occupied territories that are not connected to a water supply network. The Israeli human rights information centre, B'Tselem, calculated in July 2001 218 communities (197,000 people). 18 In October 2002, Palestinian water commissioner, Fadal Kawash, gave this figure as 240 villages (300,000 people). These households rely on collection of rainfall, water from springs and purchases from water tankers or other private sources (including settlements). Tanker distribution can be severely affected by general restrictions placed on freedom of movement throughout the occupied territories: checkpoints, road blocks, concrete barriers, ad hoc dirt heaps and trenches, some of which are established by settlers acting independently.

  3.3  Lack of funding is a significant factor in slowing the connection of isolated communities to a water supply network. The network loses approximately 30% of throughput due to leaks and is in urgent need of repair.

  3.4  Groundwater from mountain and coastal aquifers provides the main source of water for Palestinian requirements. Annual renewable resources are estimated at 630 mnm3 (million cubic metres) in the West Bank and 42 mnm3 in the Gaza Strip. West Bank Palestinians draw 110 mnm3, Israeli settlers 30 mnm3 (over four times more per capita); the remaining 80% allocation is exploited in Israel. A similar imbalance exists in Gaza: Israeli wells consume 758 m3/capita compared to Gazans' 137 m3/capita, almost five times the volume.

  3.5  In the West Bank, 40 municipal wells yield around 30 mnm3 annually, some 300 springs 60 mnm3, while rooftop rainfall collection cisterns contribute 6.5 mnm3. Average per capita total water consumption is 70 litres per day.

  3.6  The lower Jordan River is the only sizable permanent surface water source in the Palestinian territories and of a brackish quality, while three-quarters of the river's flow is diverted by Israel before arriving in the West Bank. Palestinians have no rights to draw water from the Jordan. Over-extraction has resulted in an 80-90% reduction in flow, according to some surveys, and the Dead Sea is no longer fully replenished by the Jordan River.

  3.7  A critical problem is Palestinian access to new water sources. Without supplementing supply, expanding the number of recipients on a network necessarily reduces the per capita capacity of that network. Israel has always rejected any increase of Palestinian extraction quotas, insisting on negotiating into the Oslo Accords a clause requiring that such increases be found from new sources. In October 2002, Israeli Infrastructure Minister, Effie Eitam, (also leader of the National Religious Party and patron of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) imposed a water drilling ban on Palestinians in the West Bank. 19

  3.8  The Civil Administration has been accused of generating delays in approving water projects. B'Tselem cites three examples of applications for permission to lay mains conduits for nine Palestinian villages lacking a response for up to three years. 20 Other instances have been discovered where project approvals are held up subject to settler communities being connected to the proposed supply network. 21

  3.9  Similar delays have impacted the upgrading of a sewage treatment plant at Beit Lahia in the Northern Gaza Strip. The plant, originally designed with a daily peak capacity of 5,000 m3 to produce recycled water for irrigation, was upgraded in 1996 as a result of increased loading, but has had to cope with 12,000 m3 of influent per day. Treatment ponds have merged into an effluent lake covering around 40 hectares and polluting groundwater—14 wells as a consequence have had to be closed. A new wastewater treatment plant with a daily capacity of 40,000 m3 has been planned, but approval by the Civil Administration in the Joint Water Committee withheld over disagreement concerning the location of disposal of effluent. The Civil Administration is proposing to divert the effluent for treatment and subsequent irrigation use in Israel, thereby depriving the Gaza administration of a valuable water resource.

  3.10  Due to the proximity of residential dwellings and developments, the routing of water contamination is not always clear. The PWA is in the process of carrying out a definitive study of pollution sources. Sewage discharged from Hebron settlements has been found to cause high nitrate contamination of spring water used for domestic supply, although the discharge of untreated sewage remains a general problem throughout the occupied territories. Contamination discovered in Wadi Kanah, near Qalqylia, is attributed to the nearby settlement.

  3.11.1  Settlers attack and destroy Palestinian water pumps, pipes, cisterns, and tanks as well as polluting wells and aquifers. One such adventure in 2002 targeting the village of Upper Yanun in the Nablus Governorate destroyed three cisterns serving houses with a gravity-driven distribution network, leaving the village without a water distribution facility. Villagers relate how the settlers regularly use the village's remaining water source to bathe their dogs and have threatened to return to undo any attempted repairs to the cisterns.

  3.11.2  Destruction of water resources may also form part of security policy: on 29 January 2003, the IDF used armoured bulldozers to demolish the largest two of the six wells supplying water to Rafah city in Gaza. The wells destroyed provided over 50% of the city's consumption and resulted in the Rafah Municipal Department of Water and Wastewater having to tap into the private agricultural irrigation network to maintain an emergency supply for just two hours a day. Subsequent attempts by engineers to repair the wells were discouraged by machine gun fire from settlement lookoutposts.

  3.11.3  The Gaza Strip has particularly suffered from attacks on agricultural water supply infrastructure. The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture published a report in April 2003 detailing damage inflicted between September 2000 and February 2003 . . .

    —  213 wells destroyed, of which 203 were situated in the Gaza Strip.

    —  12,249 dunums of distribution networks, of which 11,392 dunums were situated in the Gaza Strip.

    —  792 pools, of which 789 were situated in the Gaza Strip.

    —  342,995 m3 of water, of which 341,095 m3 was lost in the Gaza Strip. 22

  3.11.4  A Donor Support Group assessment (comprising the Palestine Authority, European Commission, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development amongst others) estimated that $7 million worth of damage was inflicted on water supply and sewerage infrastructure between March and May 2002 (excluding damage to local water supply facilities—cisterns, springs and rooftop tanks).


  4.1  Agriculture would normally provide employment for some 20% of the labour force (around three-quarters of whom are female), although the total fluctuates significantly according to season. A quarter of Palestinian exports derives from agricultural produce, chiefly fruits, olives, olive oil, vegetables and cut flowers.

  4.2  Before the outbreak of the current intifada in 200023, the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that a third of the land in the Gaza Strip was dedicated to agriculture, being some 176,000 dunums (44,000 acres/17,500 hectares) out of a total for the West Bank and Gaza Strip of 1,836,000 dunums (459,000 acres/184,000 hectares). Gazan agriculture is significantly more intensive than in the West Bank, employing 14,000 greenhouses and depending on irrigation for watering 75% of the land under cultivation. Gross output is capable of supplying twice the requirements of the Gazan population24.

  4.3  Access to markets and restrictions on water resources cause significant difficulties for agriculture: over 90% of West Bank agricultural output must be raised by rain-fed farming methods.

  4.4  "One of the major problems facing the agricultural sector and the rural areas in the Gaza Strip is the organised destruction of agricultural lands by the Israelis." 25 This has arisen particularly during the period of the second Intifada, but obstacles existed beforehand, such as the prevention of exports of agricultural goods to the West Bank, Israel or international markets. "We can't talk about free and direct access for exportation or imports of agricultural produce. We still don't have any political agreement between the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government and this presents a lot of obstacles for the Palestinian economy." 26 Save for the exceptional occasions when Israeli companies need to make up export orders to European customers with an extra few tonnes, shipments of agricultural produce from the Gaza Strip are rarely permitted.

  4.5  The impact of construction of the separation barrier, or "security fence", in the West Bank has had a significant impact on agriculture. The first phase of the plan, appropriating some 11,500 dunums (2,875 acres, or 1,150 hectares) largely in the Jenin, Qalqylia and Tulkarm governorates, was implemented in Palestinian territory irrespective of the interests of neighbouring communities. From 18% of the territory, this region produced 45% of the West Bank's total agricultural output27, with farmers, whose lands have been spliced by the route of the wall, retaining only a notional right of access to the other side.

A.   Clearances

  4.6  The organised destruction referred to above forms part of the security policy carried out by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) throughout the occupied territories, euphemistically termed "clearing". "Clearing" targets land near Israeli settlements, bordering military positions or installations and establishes corridors of 200 m-300 m depth either side of by-pass roads (constructed for the exclusive use of settlers). For the period September 2000 to July 2001, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported 13,500 dunums (3,375 acres/1,350 hectares) of agricultural land destroyed in the Gaza Strip, the equivalent of some 7% of the total under cultivation. 28 In November 2001, then Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, stated: "The total number of Palestinian structures that were demolished in the Gaza Strip stands at about 300. This figure includes structures used for residential purposes, farming, and walls. In addition, some 175 greenhouses were destroyed . . . In total, some 5,500 dunam of orchards of all kinds on the Palestinian side were uprooted and 4,500 dunam of planted fields and uncultivated land were destroyed." 29

  4.7  Israel bases the lawfulness of its "clearing" policy on the grounds of "imperative necessities of war",30 under the pretext that Palestinians launch attacks against Israeli civilians from orchards and groves proximate to settlement enclaves. In spite of substantial discrepancies with established international law, attempts to halt the IDF's agricultural clearances and road-building expropriations through Israeli courts by challenging the grounds of "military necessity" and "proportionality" have proved unsuccessful. The same justification has been upheld to deny claims for compensation for loss of or damage to private property, once again strict legal precedent notwithstanding.

  4.8  B'Tselem has recorded that, as a result of the policy's application in the Gaza Strip, "thousands of people have been made homeless and thousands have lost their sole source of income for many years to come. Israel caused this damage to people although it did not contend that they themselves were involved in attacks, or attempted attacks, against Israeli civilians or security forces." 31 Thus the mere fact of a settlement provides sufficient motivation for "pre-emptive" military operations at the expense of Palestinian economic assets. In practice, the impact of these interventions can be either arbitrary or indiscriminate. Of equal concern must be the expedience of such "clearances" from the point of view of prospective expropriations for extending the existing settlements.


A.   Roads

  5.1  Although as the occupying power Israel has responsibilities under international law to protect infrastructure, access to roads has been progressively denied to Palestinians. Further, the geographic disposition of roads and their availability is used as a means of control of transport and mobility.

  5.2  The network of "by-pass" roads is arranged to provide access between settlements and their linkage with Israel. Palestinians are prohibited from travelling on "by-pass" roads or encroaching into security corridors cleared up to 200-300 m either side unless via military checkpoints. The pattern of settler-only highways thus has the effect of penning Palestinian communities into enclaves, movement between which rests at the discretion of Israeli security forces.

  5.3  Roads remaining for use by Palestinian traffic have frequently been dug up or blocked by unilateral settler actions where they are judged to run too close to settlement-designated land or considered a "security" threat. Other routes have been similarly impeded for no apparent reason other than to restrict their viability for road traffic use or sever them from the arterial road network.

  5.4  The IDF is often instrumental in enforcing this type of "security" initiative, such as in the case of the damaged road accessing the main water pumping station in Rafah, Gaza, referred to above. Palestinian municipal workers sent to repair the road repeatedly came under machine gun fire from armoured units stationed in the nearby Rafah Yam settlement.

  5.5  Construction of roads has led to confiscation and seizure of Palestinian agricultural and private property as well as collateral damage to infrastructure. In 2002, for example, the drinking water supply network to the village of Zatara in Bethlehem Governorate was destroyed to make way for a new bypass road. 32 The Ramallah-based research institute, Al Haq, estimated that the total loss of land use as a result of the settler-privileged transport network runs into hundreds of thousands of dunums. 33

  5.6  In parallel with the ambivalence of Israeli government policy concerning the ongoing establishment of settlement outposts, construction of "by-pass" roads has not been halted by the advent of the Quartet's "Road Map": in August 2003, Prime Minister Sharon approved a $30 million budget for three new highways in the central and northern West Bank. 34 At the time of writing, no figures were available with respect to the quantity of land to be confiscated.

B.   Closure, Curfew and Checkpoints

  5.7  In its most concentrated form, curfew shuts down entire cities—during the April 2002 incursions, the IDF blocked all humanitarian and medical aid to Nablus, Jenin, Ramallah and other cities by declaring them closed military zones. 35

  5.8  Since the outbreak of the Intifada, the ability of Palestinian labourers to travel daily to Israel has been severely curtailed, causing a surge in unemployment and extreme poverty. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimated unemployment at above 50% of the workforce and the number of people surviving on below the minimum daily subsistence income of $2 per day at 60% of the population. The negative impact on remittances from employment in Israel is estimated at $521 million in 2001, equivalent to 13% of Palestinian gross domestic product. 36 Trade—structurally dependent on Israel—has also been affected, with exports falling by a quarter (services' earnings down by a third). Israel receives over three-quarters of Palestinian exports by value ($358 million in 2001). 37

  5.9  Construction of the Separation Barrier—walling-in the bulk of the Palestinian population of the West Bank—can be viewed as an example of military strategy inflated to the scale of government policy. The rationale, mechanics and impact of closure at the micro-level are illustrated later in this paper in the case of Al Mawasi.

  5.10  Closure has also been applied to internal movement of Palestinians, limiting the distance of travel from domicile registered on personal identity cards. Residents of the West Bank are not normally permitted to enter Jerusalem, and similar mobility controls apply to Gazans with respect to the West Bank and Jerusalem.

  5.11  Close control over movements of Palestinians are exercised through over 300 checkpoints spread around the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some of these being mobile or "flying" checkpoints which daily change location. Commercial and humanitarian traffic is monitored separately at checkpoints, requiring back-to-back unloading and reloading of merchandise transport vehicles at junctions judged to be security-sensitive by the military. Checkpoints result in an informal type of closure, since in practice who or what passes is at the discretion of the commanding officer of the IDF unit on duty. In the worst case, Palestinians may find themselves economically confined to small enclaves lacking the means for self-sufficiency or the freedom to manufacture and to trade to generate income.

  5.12.1  Curfew in practice means that Israeli tanks, military jeeps and snipers patrol the streets of Palestinian towns confining residents to their houses. Anyone seen outside their home risks being summarily shot or arrested. Streets are deserted, there is no transport, no one can get to work or school and shops are closed.

  5.12.2  The IDF Public Relations Office maintains that curfew is used as a "preventative measure" that the IDF "is forced to take" to protect Jewish communities in the occupied territories. 38

  5.12.3  Curfew is employed with cursory notice and is announced or terminated erratically, sometimes with lethal results: in Jenin, in June 2002, a crowded market place was shelled by a tank seeking to impose a curfew which had been assumed lifted, killing four and injuring 24.

C.   The Separation Barrier

  5.13  The Separation Barrier has entailed fundamental social and economic disruption: roads and water networks cut; public services impeded; access to health and education facilities frustrated; families divided. Survival of remaining ties amongst communities either side of the wall will depend upon the discretion of the security services supervising the gates at any given moment.

  5.14  The Committee will be receiving detailed evidence under dedicated memoranda concerning the humanitarian and economic impact of the Separation Barrier currently under construction across the West Bank—the subject is not treated in detail here.

  5.15.1  The Palestinian Hydrology Group reckons that 30 wells will be lost during the first phase of construction around Qalqylia and Tulkarm, comprising almost one-fifth of the total Palestinian withdrawal from the Western Groundwater Basin (an annual discharge of 3.9 mnm3).

  5.15.2  In addition to clearances for the footprint of the barrier itself, between 160,000—180,000 dunums (40,000-45,000 acres/16,000-18,000 hectares) of agricultural land will be sequestered on the Israeli side of the Barrier, involving the loss to Palestinians of tens of thousands of trees.

  5.16  Further summary details can be found at

  5.17  Below is an extract from a recent news feature that illustrates how these controls on movement are combined irrespective of the benefit to security:

    Osama's Trees: Faces of the Occupation

    International Middle East Media Centre—Special Feature

    August 29, 2003

    As you drive along Highway 505 on the road to Tel Aviv there is a little Palestinian village called Kifl Hares set back 30 metres or so from the road. Since last week the road leading into the village has been declared a Closed Military Zone (CMZ).

    The boundaries of the zone are unclear, and the reasons for declaring it are even more obscure. The village is a few kilometres down the road from the Ariel settlement where there was a recent suicide bombing. The suicide bombers didn't come from Kifl Hares or the surrounding region. Kifl Hares is also very close to a planned section of the [Separation Barrier], which is meant to incorporate Ariel, a settlement in the middle of the West Bank, into Israel proper.

    There is now a roadblock permanently manned by soldiers outside Kifl Hares. The soldiers have stationed themselves on the roof of a house that sits on the junction of the main highway and the road into the village. The house is owned by a villager named Sami.

    When Sami's family first moved to Kifl Hares the Ariel settlement didn't exist. Sami, his wife and children had to leave the house because they came under attack from settlers. They decided to rent the house out as a shop. Osama, another villager has made a plant nursery in the gardens of the house. He was doing good business with passing traffic even after the second Intifada began.

    After years of work, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) don't allow Osama in to water the trees and plants. The current closed military zone order lasts until the end of September, and it is possible that it will then be extended. Sami is worried that he will lose his house altogether. In the meantime, Osama has lost his livelihood and many of the plants and trees will die.

    Osama has contacted a lawyer, and IWPS contacted Israeli human rights activists, who have so far been unable to learn anything about the reason for the CMZ or how long the army plans to keep him from his shop. Even members of the Knesset called and the IDF refused to give them any information about the situation.


  6.1  Since 1967, natural resources in the Palestinian occupied territories have been subject to two conflicting exploitation and development schemes. Profligate utilisation of limited resources by a minority has resulted in greater environmental attrition than might have been the case had a cohesive plan for the West Bank or Gaza Strip been adopted. Political limitations on Palestinian planning autonomy exacerbate progressive degradation of natural resources and have helped to create a problem of long-run sustainability. Funded landfill projects backed by the World Bank and European Investment Bank have had to be shelved.

  6.2  Styles of development found in settlements are typical of the wealthy suburban housing estates in temperate zones of the industrialised world—brick-roofed villas with grass lawns and swimming pools. These require a disproportionate share of natural water resources for their sustenance in contrast to the organic characteristics of Palestinian villages—flat-roofed houses for rainfall harvesting with agricultural and livestock smallholdings.

  6.3  Settlements tend to be constructed in a "circulade" formation upon hilltops. Israel claims that the majority of the annual 11 mnm3 of wastewater generated by settlements is treated, two-thirds of settlements allegedly having treatment plants. "Security constraints" prevented independent inspection of these facilities by UN monitoring teams, however. 39 Palestinian sources (eg ARIJ) claim untreated effluent is pumped out of settlements to filter into lower level terrain in surrounding valleys, affecting agricultural land and villages. In Hebron Governorate, the village of Beit Ummar, situated in a valley beneath the settlements of Gush Etzion and Karme Zur, has suffered from regular pumping of waste, polluting hundreds of dunums and creating pools in low-lying parts of agricultural land.

  6.4  Untreated domestic wastewater from multiple sources is a pressing problem in the West Bank—it is estimated that 90 mnm3 is discharged annually. 40 There is only one (out of eight) fully functional Palestinian wastewater treatment plant located at Al Bireh, near Ramallah. IDF shelling destroyed imported materials from Germany that were intended for a new wastewater treatment plant near Salfit, which project will now be delayed for some years. Access of maintenance staff to wastewater treatment plants is affected by Israeli security closures, as is supply of spare parts for plant and process materials such as disinfectants. Untreated sewage pumping from settlements in the Jordan valley contribute to deteriorating pollution levels of the Lower Jordan River.

  6.5  Inequality in access to and allocation of water has led to serious contamination of groundwater in the Gaza Strip. Annual safe yield is estimated at 55 mnm3 while annual Palestinian needs are reckoned to be 110 mnm3. The Gaza Coastal Aquifer used to be partially recharged from the Wadi Gaza coming from Hebron until Israel constructed a weir diverting flow. Being a shallow aquifer, it is exposed to the threat of sea-water intrusion and saline pollution of the groundwater exacerbated by over-pumping. High use of fertilisers exposes the groundwater table to nitrate contamination, while inadequate sewerage infrastructure aggravates degradation of water quality. In June 2002, the Israeli Hydrology Service declared 15% of water pumped from the Coastal Aquifer unfit for drinking. 41 Applying World Health Organisation guidelines for chloride levels, a United Nations Environment Programme report found only 10% of the total aquifer volume could be regarded as freshwater. 42

  6.6  Environmental hazards also accrue for villages in the proximity of industrial developments: the pumping of untreated industrial wastewater and liquid waste into the environment risks degrading groundwater quality through high concentrations of heavy metals and non-degradable toxic waste. ARIJ cites the case of untreated wastewater flows from Barqan Industrial Zone (800,000 m3 annually) polluting groundwater with heavy metals and damaging agricultural land belonging to the villages of Sarta, Kufr A-Deek, and Bruqin. 43 Israel disputes these claims.

  6.7  Israeli environmental protection legislation does not apply equally in the occupied territories. Dumping of untreated hazardous waste—typically fertilisers, cement, paints, batteries, copper, pesticides and waste from other chemically processed products—is not as strictly controlled by punitive legal sanction. Certain industrial activity taking place has been banned in Israel for environmental health and safety reasons. Geshurei Industries relocated to Tulkarem after its site at Kfar Saba was closed down in 1982 over environmental concerns, while other hazardous product manufacturers have located in the Tulkarm region (including asbestos, glass fibre and pesticide industries). Evidence of use of banned agrochemicals—DDT, lindane, methyl bromide—has been found at waste sites and in well-water samples.

  6.8  The lack of co-ordinated environmental management policies is also critical concerning the disposal of household refuse. Sites for solid waste are not lined to prevent to leachate pollution of the subsoil. Sites have been closed for `security' purposes without considering the consequences of accrual of refuse in substitute locations: those at Al Bireh (Ramallah), Azzoun (Qalqylia) and Hebron are reserved for settlement use only. In Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Jenin transport of waste has been impeded leaving waste to accumulate within urban areas.

  6.9  Settlers' extensive use of irrigation for agriculture also raises concerns about the build-up of nitrate concentrations from fertilisers and pesticides in the groundwater table. High levels have been detected in the Jericho Governorate, where the groundwater table may be as shallow as one metre below the surface. These pollutants combine with untreated sewage flows to drain off into the Dead Sea.

  6.10.1  Restrictions on Palestinian land development have led to intensive exploitation of existing land. A by-product of this is pressure on biodiversity: fragile flora species are being displaced by more robust shrubs in areas of over-grazing such as Wadi Sa'ir in Hebron Governorate.

  6.10.2  As a result of prohibitions on cultivating the Eastern slopes in the West Bank, 85% closed to Palestinians by military order, progressive desertification is occurring. Depletion of plant cover has accelerated soil erosion.

  6.11  Land originally classified as nature reserve at the outset of military occupation has later emerged redesignated for settlement building or hosting military bases. Under the Oslo Accords, three-quarters of West Bank nature reservations were retained under Israeli authority in "Area C".

  6.12  A detailed review of water resources and waste treatment in the occupied territories was published by the United Nations Environment Programme in January 2003: Desk Study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


  7.1  The experiences of the inhabitants of Al Mawasi provide a comprehensive illustration of how settlement under military occupation impacts on the totality of Palestinian life. There is also a foretaste here of what might lie ahead on completion of the segregation barrier in the West Bank, or in the event of collapse of peace negotiations, when all access to and from Palestinian communities could be controlled absolutely with limited manpower.

  7.2  Al Mawasi is a narrow stretch of land in the Gaza Strip (approximately 13 km by 1 km), home to around 5,000 Palestinians, lying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gush Katif settlement block that was first planted in the late 1970s. Eleven of the 19 settlements in the Gaza Strip surround Al Mawasi. The Oslo II Agreement of 1995 laid down the physical and political boundaries of influence for the Gaza Strip, which for Al Mawasi meant that Israel retained full security control and the Palestinian Authority civil governance within its designated boundaries. 44

  7.3  Al Mawasi has exceptional soil fertility, being an important region for production of dates, figs, guava, peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and sweet potatoes. Fishing is the second key source of revenue for the local economy.

  7.4  Since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, Al Mawasi has been out of bounds to non-residents. Access is only possible via a single checkpoint (Tuffah) in the Khan Younis Mawasi following the closure of the Deir el Baleh and Rafah roads. Since May 2002, a complete curfew has been imposed, shutting off the area entirely except for restricted hours of passage via Tuffah.

  7.5  Humanitarian and social service personnel must negotiate special access with Israeli military to enter Al Mawasi. Despite a notional access period of seven hours per day, the Tuffah checkpoint is reported closed for 80% of this time, with an absolute ban on re-entry for adults below a certain age limit (varying between 30-45 years of age for men, 30-35 for women). Additional, arbitrary criteria for passage are routinely added by IDF personnel. Delays are excessive, queues unavoidable; the checkpoint shuts for lunch.

  7.6  The closure policy is designed for the benefit of the settlements: " . . . no separation exists between the Muassi [sic] area and the nearby areas of Israeli communities in Gush Katif. Palestinian terrorist organisations have in the past carried out acts of terror against Israeli civilians by taking advantage of this geographic proximity . . . In the framework of coping with the activity of the terrorist organisations, the IDF has been forced to take a number of steps. Amongst others, the General of Southern Command declared the Muassi a closed military area effective of May 2002." 45

  7.7  "Recognised" inhabitants have been given identity numbers and issued with smart cards, without which transit through the checkpoints is not possible for residents. Allocation of these identity numbers was effected without proper notice and once only, so that there remain many residents who happened to be absent from their homes on the date of census and who are experiencing extreme difficulty in returning. Mobility restrictions lean towards exclusion from Al Mawasi rather than simply impeding movement, with a first case of expulsion of a resident, without explanatory justification, being registered in May 2003. 46

  7.8  Checkpoints are established in locations to regulate Palestinian activity rather than protect settler circulation, often being placed where there is little or no settler traffic. Some 35 fixed military checkpoints operate throughout roughly 30 km2 of the combined Al Mawasi-Gush Katif region, excluding ad hoc or "flying" checkpoints set up for temporary shifts at varying locations. Human rights monitoring organisations receive complaints of delays and abuse from soldiers. Internally, curfew is enforced on occasions for continuous periods lasting several days.

  7.9  In the northern Mawasi (Khan Younis Mawasi), agricultural production has fallen by 90% since September 200047 due predominantly to IDF closure policy: firstly, by restricting access to Al Mawasi area; and secondly, by the use of sniper fire, arrests and detentions to inhibit access to cultivable land close to settlements. Fishing was prohibited in April 2002 for fishermen in the Khan Younis Mawasi, and is subject to severe restrictions in the southern administrative district (Rafah Mawasi). There is concern amongst the Khan Younis Mawasi fishermen that the closure of harbour facilities is a prelude to their permanent appropriation for settlement use.

  7.10  Essential services are subject to tight controls:

    —  Gas shipments, used for cooking and heating, enter Al Mawasi at the discretion of military personnel manning them. Passage has been heavily controlled, with a total ban imposed between February and November 2002.

    —  Electricity: settlements are connected to a mains network, but, with the exception of one flower-growing business, Palestinian communities rely upon two generators running up to seven hours each evening. Certain residents live too far away to be served by the generators. Closure has prevented the implementation of an EU-funded supply project.

    —  Water: one private well in the Khan Younis Mawasi has to provide water for the northern district. Being an agricultural source used for irrigation, the water has a high nitrate content that renders it unsafe for human consumption. Drilling for a fresh-water source has been halted by military order since 2000. The Rafah Mawasi supply is restricted to 200 m3 per day owing to restrictions on electricity supply and diesel fuel availability to run the pump. Sewage disposal relies upon septic tanks, which, due to closure, have become unserviceable. As a result, sewage now filters into the aquifer, polluting groundwater.

    —  Mobility: asphalted roads are off-limits to Palestinians, save for the Tuffah checkpoint and beach roads shared with Israelis. Dirt roads are prone to flooding in the rainy season. The beach road has spurned five checkpoints and respectively-documented cases of physical abuse of those passing through, while the army has obstructed more than 20 internal roads with concrete blocks. Commerce is strictly controlled: grocers are permitted to travel once per week outside of Al Mawasi to restock their shops (there are just six), otherwise individuals are not permitted to bring in food or any other products.

  7.11  Access to factors of production:

    —  Land: although constituting only 0.5% of the population, settlers, with military support, control over 40% of the Gaza Strip. The Gush Katif bloc houses 3,900 settlers, alongside 8,200 Palestinians in Al Mawasi, thus comprising a third of the combined population, but occupying over three times as much land—4.8 dunums (1.2 acres/0.5 hectares) per capita. Progressive appropriation by defoliation of agricultural land for "security" purposes, followed by militarily-enforced enclosure, is a more frequent strategy in Gaza than in the West Bank.

    —  Water. The ban on Palestinians sinking new wells does not apply in the settlements, where Israeli government subsidies assist a rate of annual water consumption of 1000 m3 per capita, six times higher than Palestinian usage.

    —  Electricity. The private utility providing a 24 hour mains network to the settlements refuses to connect Palestinian villages to the grid.

  7.12  Economic impact has been devastating—an area once self-sufficient in food production has been reduced to surviving on welfare distributed by UNRWA. Because of its agricultural importance, the working population of Al Mawasi would rise to some 15,000 people before the intifada—a daily migration that is no longer possible.

  7.13  The economic pressure upon Al Mawasi is intensified by the fine-tuning of "security" restrictions (as far as merchandise or traded goods are concerned, only food is allowed to cross the checkpoint):

    —  blockade on resources and plant: a military order of February 2001 prohibits the transport of building materials, fuels for commercial purposes, spare parts for machinery, and maintenance materials into Al Mawasi. Importation of fertiliser is banned;

    —  total disruption of exports of produce: prohibitions on vehicle crossings require back to back transit arrangements; handling damage and substantial delays ruin the quality of fresh produce. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that in 2002, the entire guava crop, 80% of date and 60% of vegetable production was lost—equivalent to 90% of pre-intifada production;

    —  land clearances: there have been three major events since September 2000 involving settlers and the IDF razing 740 dunums (180 acres/74 hectares) of planted agricultural land. Farmers lose access to cleared land, which is subsequently enclosed and appropriated for incorporation into settlements;

    —  destruction of agricultural equipment. Over a period of a fortnight in January 2001 in the Khan Younis Mawasi, armed settlers destroyed 30 water wells, several pumps and irrigation systems while burning dwellings, two dozen greenhouses and storage buildings. Later IDF clearances elsewhere destroyed water pumps, irrigation canals and pools.

  7.14  Fisherman residing outside of Al Mawasi have been excluded from earning their living by general controls on movement, although the industry has been effectively crippled by:

    —  lack of access to the sea: periodically and arbitrarily closed to fishermen from the Rafah Mawasi, while the Khan Younis Mawasi beach has been permanently closed;

    —  progressive reductions in fishing permits issued and fishing zones;

    —  restrictions on fish exports have resulted in a 75% loss of the pre-intifada revenues;

    —  attacks on fishermen: Israeli gunboats on occasions have opened fire on Palestinian fishing vessels within authorised fishing limits; and

    —  destruction of fishing equipment: incidents of nets being cut and motors confiscated are not infrequent, local sources claiming over 30 motor confiscations since 2000.

  7.15.1  Violence and menaces . . . with impunity

Incidents of attacks on the person, property and businesses of Al Mawasi residents by settlers occur occasionally with the active complicity of the IDF.

  7.15.2  In November 2000, IDF soldiers assisted a group of settlers in the illegal eviction of an elderly resident from beach cabins in the Khan Younis Mawasi, where he had lived for over 25 years. The settlers surrounded the several huts vacated in this way with barbed wire fencing, taking the entire plot of land.

  7.15.3  The majority of confrontations with the IDF occur at checkpoints, at times involving shootings, or, more frequently, beatings. An overriding complaint is that of humiliation or spurious impairment of passage where no security implications are apparent.

  7.15.4  Palestinians in Al Mawasi continue to be employed in settlements, where individual cases of life-threatening assaults have been recorded.

  7.16  Al Mawasi is periodically subjected to systematic house-to-house searches. An example of this occurred on 21-22 July 2003, when the IDF imposed a curfew on communities in the Rafah Mawasi, forcing their way into homes to check the identities of persons present (in spite of the closure regulations in force).

  7.17  The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) considers that there exists a culture of impunity for soldiers and settlers with respect to attacks on the person and property of Palestinians. Since the outbreak of the second intifada, the PCHR has initiated a number of actions complaining of violent, abusive and destructive incidents, none of which effort has resulted in punitive sanction against the responsible parties. PCHR records that 918 Palestinians have been killed since September 2000 in the Gaza Strip, remarking that just six indictments had been issued against soldiers in cases of lethal shootings.

  7.18  The PCHR has encountered a similar lack of success in respect of claims submitted to the Compensation Officer at the Israeli Ministry of Defence in respect of reparations for loss or damages suffered by Palestinians in the occupied territories. The recourse of launching a civil action in Israel is beyond the means of Palestinians, where court fees alone are equivalent to three months' earnings and lawyers from the Gaza Strip cannot gain access to Israeli courts.

  7.19  The environmental burden of the Gush Katif bloc is systemic as much as arising from specific activities. Settlement sewage treatment plants, four in all, are located in Palestinian areas, as is a domestic waste tip, all contributing to air, soil and water quality degradation of the Gazan eco-system.

  7.20  There have also been cases of hazardous waste being dumped in locations detrimental to environmental health. The Palestinian Authority was obliged to pay $50,000 for the safe disposal of 6,000 litres of trichloroethylene discovered being unloaded from a settler's vehicle in the Mawasi area in 1998. In a separate incident, and although on settler designated land, a 35-metre deep pit containing 50,000 tons of toxic waste discovered in 2000 remains to be cleaned up by Israeli authorities, despite the high risk of leaching into the shallow ground water table.

  7.21  From the security perspective, Al Mawasi is no different from other areas in the West Bank, but the situation for Palestinian residents of Al Mawasi has deteriorated significantly during the last three years. The manner in which the minutiae of everyday life is controlled by the presence of settlements and an army of occupation has come to be known as the "matrix of control" amongst political analysts, capturing succinctly the progressive and co-ordinated intensification of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Not only is economic activity paralysed, but educational and healthcare systems disrupted and quality of life degraded to an extent where a community's distressed social fabric no longer discourages depopulation.


  8.1.1  Despite the Quartet's "Road Map" initiative, the future status of the Palestinian Territories in 2005 remains unclear. Under the Oslo Accords, the Territories were divided geographically into three interim spheres of influence to be regulated by final status talks. Following the IDF's Operations "Defensive Shield" and "Determined Path" in April and June 2002, these arrangements effectively ceased to function (with the exception of certain initiatives in the fields of water and agriculture), although the political imprint of the Accords persists. Implicit in the negotiations, for example, was the acknowledgement of the existence of "settlement blocs".

  8.1.2  The Road Map, chronically behind schedule, has not defined interim areas of authority but maintains as an objective a two-state political solution within the historic Palestinian Mandate boundaries. Thus there are no definitive frontiers of the projected Palestinian state on which to model future economic infrastructure. It may be assumed that the areas designated "Area A" under the Oslo Accords (solely Palestinian jurisdiction) will be included within its boundaries, but the issue of "territorial contiguity" is likely to be subject to intense final stage negotiations.

  8.2  Given the historic success rate of peace initiatives for the Israel-Palestine conflict, "facts on the ground" must be counted significant determining factors of potential scenarios in 2005. One would be the complete physical containment of Palestinian communities within the Separation Barrier currently under construction. The consequences of such a development would most likely entail the loss to the Palestinian economy of territory located beyond the barrier as an effective economic asset.

  8.3.1  Whatever the eventual path of the "Road Map" during this period, involvement of neutral observers to provide some form of stability during its interim phases is a priority issue. Amongst Israel's "Road Map" obligations are undertakings to improve humanitarian conditions (including lifting curfews and easing movement between Palestinian areas), ending attacks in civilian areas and ceasing the confiscation or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, either as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction. It is difficult to envisage economic development aid projects operating successfully without these preconditions.

  8.3.2  At the time of writing, with or without a unilateral Palestinian ceasefire, it is evident that there is still some way to go to reach this point. Provision is made under the plan for observers to monitor progress against objectives of both parties (Palestinians have appealed to the Quartet for the placement of international observers48). This concerns development assistance planning in order to:

    (i)  prevent future or further conflict nurturing a global dependence on development aid;

    (ii)  protect existing aid projects from deterioration;

    (iii)  deter conflicting parties from avoiding sovereign responsibilities under international law, using back door subsidies via third party's public funds and humanitarian assistance programmes.

A.   Aid Targets

  8.4  A political settlement is of overriding importance to prospects for Palestinian economic recovery and the success of international assistance.

  8.5  Projects required as a matter of urgency with regard to preserving the environment and public health include:

    —  solid waste handling capacity, specifically hazardous waste materials arriving in the occupied territories;

    —  prevention of groundwater pollution through unsustainable effluent disposal and agricultural practices;

    —  construction of new and maintenance to existing waste water treatment facilities;

    —  repair of damage to wells and reservoirs, as well as repair of domestic water collection tanks; and

    —  servicing of septic tanks and pits to prevent flooding of untreated contents.

B.   Water

  8.6  Good water resource management dictates that appropriate consumption be a function of both quantity and quality. Schemes introducing technology to diversify employable water sources would be particularly appropriate in more isolated areas.

  8.7  A large proportion of Palestinian water usage is accounted for by agricultural production. Access to new water resources for Palestinians requires a solution both at the political level and, while Israeli destruction of existing resources continues unchecked, at the development level. Consumption efficiency is essential: domestic, agricultural and industrial development and investment projects must be compatible with water resource quantities available.

  8.8  Boosting volume utilisation of rainwater for domestic supply should be prioritised in order to increase total water resources and reduce reliance on spring water sources (where faecal-coliform contamination is frequently found). The distribution of 5,000-litre collection tanks to isolated rural communities relieves pressure on trucking logistics and relaxes price inflation. Water purification technologies have a key role to play in rain water collection schemes.

  8.9  Capture of rain—and flood waters could tap into some of the 95mnm3 of natural run-off per annum. Nine out of 10 municipalities with storm water collection capability have combined run-off systems, but only a small amount of the 14mnm3 annual urban run-off is used for domestic water supply. 49

  8.10  In view of the physical isolation that the Israeli occupation imposes on Palestinian communities, autonomous micro-solutions may provide more robust benefits under conditions of ongoing political instability than large scale projects. These hold greater prospects of tangible yields in the event of persistent and severe closure and would provide cost-effective interim solutions pending the development of networked or macro-scale projects.

  8.11  Small scale, low maintenance grey water recycling chambers, such as those part-funded by Palestine Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), have been introduced into communities in the northern Gaza Strip around Beit Lahia. Domestic waste water is collected from households and purified through four chambers for eventual use in irrigation of tree-bearing or perennial crops.

  8.12  The United Nations Environment Programme estimated that 72mnm3 of wastewater is generated from domestic and industrial uses across the West Bank and Gaza, very little of which is currently captured for potential recycling. (Desk Study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, p 44).

C.   Agriculture

  8.13  The Palestinian agricultural sector is characteristically entrepreneurial and ecologically sustainable. There is a need for marketing expertise to support productivity improvements in agriculture and to improve the competitiveness of agricultural output in international markets.

  8.14  However, the immediate concern is management of the political climate to stall wholesale destruction of land, invested capital and productive assets, and to restore freedom to market goods to consumers.

  8.15  Agricultural production, being a major consumer of water and in view of the present deteriorating political outlook, needs to take particular account of water resource management. This entails fine tuning project design on a cost-efficient basis to matters such as market demand for choice of cultivar, use of marginal quality water, improvements in irrigation technology.

D.   Mobility

  8.16  Provision of international monitors: to work alongside grassroots and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support freedom of movement through checkpoints and to discourage settler interference in routine relief activities. Involvement of international volunteer groups in the occupied territories has demonstrated that an independent observer presence discourages spurious or illegal interventions by security forces. It also deters reckless settler behaviour on the wrong side of the law intended to intimidate or impoverish Palestinian communities.

  8.17  The impact on NGOs at an operational level of impediments to free circulation of staff tends to be insidious rather than dramatic, but nevertheless impacts upon the efficiency of NGOs. PARC cited the following in its annual report:

    —  transportation costs increased by between three to five times;

    —  a six-day working week, stretched working days;

    —  reduced productivity;

    —  complimentary irrigation and desalination projects unable to achieve objectives;

    —  information deficits and co-ordination difficulties between headquarters, branches and offices;

    —  inability to distribute technology improvements to farmers (eg PARC's environmentally friendly practices campaign).

  8.18  Repair of damage to roads caused by military activity and settler vandalism. Where replacement routes must be adopted, weatherproofing of these improvised relief tracks could be required.

E.   Indemnity

  8.19  Israel is a State Party to international human rights legislation and is obliged to provide human rights' protection to Palestinians living in the occupied territories under:

    —  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

    —  the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

  Israel is a High Contracting Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949), which conveys express responsibilities as an occupying power and in respect of civilians under its military authority.

  8.20  Settlements are illegal, constituting a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, or otherwise put, a war crime:

        "the following shall be regarded as grave breaches . . . the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, in breach of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention"50

  High Contracting Parties have responsibilities with respect to observation by other High Contracting Parties of the terms of the Geneva Conventions .  . .

  8.21  Ongoing conditions of political instability in the occupied territories favour the promotion of ideological settlement, its delinquency under international law notwithstanding. Such policies—the "matrix of control"—are manifestly long-run causes of poverty and deprivation amongst Palestinian communities. The settler presence means that aid projects will remain vulnerable to disruption either before or shortly after completion, since they support that which settler ideology is trying to eradicate—an autonomous Palestinian presence within the historic Palestinian Mandate. That this situation is intensifying and has been brought about by policy choices—rather than natural disaster or endogenous economic mismanagement—demands that aid strategies work to frustrate their impact.

  8.22  In view of the scale of the disregard for international law and conventions governing the conduct of occupying powers, aid policy should be adapted to address the destruction of economic assets (eg water, fertile land) and development capital (eg plant and projects) on the basis that the perpetrator pays. Measures could be introduced into aid programmes that consider the feasible pursuit of damages in order to obtain compensation for loss of national taxpayers' contributions to anticipated social development, not excluding the possibility of collaborative class actions with other agencies affected by similar type-losses. Concerning settler-perpetrated vandalism, where the destruction is often a straightforward matter of criminal prosecution, contingent funding for legal action in local courts should be considered as a budgetary item in order for donors and recipient communities to benefit from the punitive deterrence that habitually accompanies law enforcement elsewhere.

  8.23.1  The dismantling of settlements is a central issue in the context of negotiations over contiguous territory for a Palestinian state. Peace Now's annual survey of settler sentiment conducted in June 2003 found that 83% of settlers would agree to leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip in exchange for compensation. 51

  8.23.2  Given that settlements enjoy Israeli-government and independently-sourced fiscal concessions and grants—some of which are disbursed on a non-recourse basis—consideration could legitimately be given to introducing to the aid agenda the concept of lobbying for counter-subventions to encourage evacuation of illegally-appropriated property (levied on those parties liable at law for reparations and their sponsors). The approach acquires financial viability when the aggregate cost of long-run transfers for (re-)development projects outweighs the cost of inducing reverse migrations.

  8.23.3  While it is undesirable that illegal settlement might be seen as a profitable affair, the costs of termination should rest finally with the governing authority responsible for the occupied territories over the period. Distribution of liability amongst historic beneficiaries thereafter would not be a matter of concern for international aid and development agencies.

August 2003


  1  Compound annual growth rates 1990-2002 from data sourced from: Foundation for Middle East Peace, Settlement Report; Peace Now; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

  2  Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now spokesperson, quoted in Yediot Acharonot (online edition), 28 July 2003.

  3  Yediot Ahronot, 6 August 2003; reported by IPC.

  4  BBC News Online, Monday 18 August 2003; Israel's religious settlers, by Raffi Berg

  5  Palestinian Land Defence General Committee, Current Characteristics of Israeli Settlement Activity in the West Bank (January 2002).

  6  Considering, for example, "red-line" statements of opposition to American demands issued by Likud coalition partners the National Religious Party and National Union.

  7  Statement of doctrine, Israel Defence Force [].

  8  All military orders referenced from Raja Shehadeh, The Law of the Land, Part VI passim.

  9  Ibid. Part V, p 100.

  10  Statement of doctrine, Israel Defence Force [].

  11  PALDIS-LDC Report, Ideological Settlement in the West Bank: Areas of Exclusion Enforced upon the Palestinian Population, (July 2002).

  12  Al-Haq Institute, The Israeli Settlements from the Perspective of International Law, Chapter 3, Section 2, p 61.

  13  B'Tselem Information Sheet, Tacit Consent, March 2001, citing letter to IDF spokesperson, p 24.

  14  cf. investigative papers published by B'Tselem (Jerusalem), Al Haq (Ramallah), . . .

  15  Palestinian Villagers of Huwarra, south of Nablus, reported that settlers from Yitshar are chasing villagers out of their fields using light airplanes. Villager Minwer Abu Zaher said that Israeli settlers land their light planes in their fields and chase villagers out of their fields. Another villager, Mustafa Al Nuri, reported that he was beaten by settlers and suffered serious injuries to the head. News filed by Amin Abu Warda, International Middle East Media Centre, 5 August 2003.

  16  According to the National Committee against Settlement, the Legal Centre for the Defence of Land, Nablus, 334 recorded explosions had resulted in the deaths of 144 and serious injuries to 320 people up to September 1998.

  17  News report, International Middle East Media Centre, 25 August 2003.

  18  B'Tselem Information Sheet Not Even a Drop, July 2001, p 7, from primary sources at the Palestinian Ministry for Local Government; Palestine Water Authority; Palestinian Hydrology Group.

  19  Associated Press report, Jordan Times, Israeli minister bans Palestinian water drilling, 24 October 2002.

  20  B'Tselem Information Sheet, Not Even A Drop, p 10, July 2001.

  21  This problem arose during the planning approval stages for connecting villages in the Hebron Governorate. Author's interview with Dr I Barghothi, Director, Palestine Water Authority, March 2003.

  22  Press release: Les ressources d'eau de la Bande de Gaza sont mises en peril, International Press Centre, 13 April 2003.

  23  Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, Land Use Statistics, 2000.

  24  Interview with Ahmed Sourani, Director of Relations and Cooperation Development, Palestine Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), 9 February 2003.

  25  Ibid.

  26  Ibid.

  27  Ministry of Agriculture.

  28  Cited correspondence between Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and B'Tselem, B'Tselem Information Sheet, Policy of Destruction, February 2002, p 7.

  29  Letter to Knesset Member MK Ran Cohen, 29 November 2001.

  30  Specifically, s 23(g) of the Hague Convention (1907); IDF spokesperson's statement, 30 January 2002.

  31  B'Tselem Information Sheet, Policy of Destruction, February 2002, p 4.

  32  Palestine Hydrology Group, Water & Environmental Resources Development, April-August 2002.

  33  The Israeli Settlements from the Perspective of International Law, Al Haq Institute 2000.

  34  As reported by the International Middle East Media Centre, 11 August 2003: One road will connect Qedar with Ma'aleh Adomim settlements east of Jerusalem; a second will connect Nelli with Ofrim settlement north of Ramallah; the third connects settlements in Jenin area near the village of Ya'abad.

  35  Amnesty International Report, Israel: Briefing for the Committee Against Torture, May 2002; Collective Punishment.

  36  Primary data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, press release 21 August 2003.

  37  Press release, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 21 August 2003.

  38  Captain Anrieta Levi, IDF Spokesperson, responding to B'Tselem Report Lethal Curfew, p 31 (October 2002).

  39  United Nations Environment Programme, Desk Study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, p 56.

  40  Applied Research Institute—Jerusalem, The Status of the Environment in the West Bank, 1997.

  41  PASSIA Special Bulletin, Water—The Blue Gold of the Middle East, p 7 (July 2002).

  42  United Nations Environment Programme, Desk Study on the Environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, p 39.

  43  Applied Research Institute—Jerusalem.

  44  Factual and numeric data cited chiefly relies upon: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Suffering in Isolation, Series Study (32), July 2003; B'Tselem Status Report, Al Mawasi, Gaza Strip: Intolerable Life in an Isolated Enclave, March 2003.

  45  Captain Anrieta Levi, IDF Public Spokesperson, Public Relations, quoted in B'Tselem Status Report, Al Mawasi, Gaza Strip: Intolerable Life in an Isolated Enclave, p 22 [March 2003].

  46  Megbil Shurab was expelled without explanation by military order, 13 May 2003.

  47  Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, Khan Younis, Gaza, May 2003.

  48  The latest occasion via President Arafat, 29 August 2003, at a meeting with Quartet representatives, along with an offer to extend the hudna.

  49  Palestine National Water Authority, Elements of a National Water Policy, 1996.

  50  Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions, Article 85. (4)(a).

  51  Peace Now press release, July 24, 2003.

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