Ha’aretz: Israel is now a “formal, full-fledged apartheid regime”

Mar 2, 2023
Torched cars in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023. US State Department spokesman Ned Price says the Biden administration expects Israel to prosecute those responsible for Sundays deadly settler rampage of Huwara and provide compensation for the Palestinians whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged. Image: AAP Photo by Eyal Warshavsky / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Following yet another Israeli Settler killing spree and the “annexation of the West Bank”, Israel is now a “formal, full-fledged apartheid regime”, writes leading Isreali newspaper Ha’aretz.

Sunday’s attack on the Palestinian town of Huwarra was the most violent of such settler attacks in decades.

Located near Nablus in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank there are reports of 30 homes, 40 cars and other buildings, schools and mosques being torched. The fires were so great that the local fire brigade struggled to contain the flames. Other neighbouring villages were also attacked. Some 400 settlers were reported to take part in the attack. Videos show settlers dancing in the street following these attacks. No one has been arrested.

Even Israeli TV has reportedly referred to this attack as a pogrom and a tweet by the New Israeli Fund Australia commented similarly “Settlers are unleashing violence on the Palestinian residents of Huwarra. This is a pogrom, full stop. We strongly condemn these vile acts because violence in the face of violence is never justice.“

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported the death of a 37-year-old man who was shot and killed by Israeli fire. Another person was shot, another stabbed and yet another beaten with an iron bar. There was extensive tear gas inhalation with some 95 Palestinians requiring treatment. Settlers reportedly stopped ambulances from entering the town and were supported doing so by the Israeli army.

Huwarra is a Palestinian town of approximately 6,000 residents and is surrounded by a number of settlements with some of the most violent settlers that the Israeli Army fails to control or arrest. This failure is well reported by Palestinians and human rights organisations and also by Israeli soldiers themselves in testimonies for Breaking the Silence (BTS). This organisation comprises veteran soldiers who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the second intifada in September 2000.

A BTS lieutenant gave the following testament regarding his time in Hebron;

“The mission there is not to maintain order; the mission there is to enforce Jewish supremacy in the city of Hebron. It’s not that we soldiers are between a hammer and an anvil, [but rather] we are the hammer being hurled at the Palestinians by the settlers”.

One can be forgiven for thinking that this present round of settler violence is just more of the same. This endless cycle of violence. It’s over there. Israel is our Friend. But this settler violence against the Palestinians has existed since Israel’s inception in 1948. Massacres took place, villages were destroyed, Palestinians in their thousands were driven off their land and into exile in miserable impoverished refugee camps. Israel always was and remains a settler colony. They always have and continue to violate international laws and human rights despite calls from the international community and the UN. And since occupying the West Bank in 1967 they have never had any intention of stopping the settlement project. The latest version of this intention has been made very clear by Israel’s National Security Adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi who has said that plans to build thousands of new settlement homes, approved last week, would go ahead. He said “there is no settlement freeze” and “there is no restriction on army activity.” Under this present Israeli government, plans are well developed to complete this process by annexing the West Bank.

How can they do that? Firstly by ignoring all international laws and secondly by removing the control of the military administration responsible for the West Bank and replacing it with a Civil Administration. The Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has established a new body headed by Bezalal Smotrich, making him in effect the Governor of the West Bank, giving him extraordinary powers over almost all areas of Palestinian life and enabling him to rapidly expand the settlements.

The following editorial from Ha’aretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, with an English language edition, on 26 February 2023 is quite extraordinary and as such needs to be quoted in full.

“In legal terms, the assignment of governmental powers in the West Bank to its new civilian governor, particularly alongside the plan to expand the dual justice system, so that Israeli law will apply fully and directly to settlers in the West Bank and civilian Israeli authorities will wield direct governmental powers in the settlements – provisions that are also part of the Gallant-Smotrich agreement – constitutes de jure annexation of the West Bank. In light of the fact that there is no intention of granting civil rights to the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank, the result of the agreement is a formal, full-fledged apartheid regime.”

When will the Albanese government speak out about this latest Israeli violation of international law and human rights violation? When will our parliamentarians stop taking Israeli funded tours to this new extremist settler led Israeli government that Israeli’s themselves call an apartheid state carrying out pogroms. The silence regarding this latest settler violence is deafening.

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