Palestinian lawyer and writer, and founder of the human rights organisation Al-Haq, Raja Shehadeh, breaks down the trajectory of how illegal Israeli settlements were established in occupied territories.
In his article for the Guardian on Thursday, Shehadeh explains that Israel has learned “to manage the occupation in perpetuity with minimal cost” but, right from when the occupation began in 1967, it was clear they had no intention of returning occupied territories. He points out that despite the fact that, 2 days after the occupation began, Israel passed a military order to respect the fourth Geneva Convention (i.e. to protect civilians in times of war), this order was however removed just 4 months later. Although Israel’s legal counsel advised against building new settlements in the occupied territories, saying this would violate the Geneva Convention, the advice was ignored and illegal Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories began in earnest. Israel proceeded from that point to continually change and create new laws that would allow them “to construct a false ‘legal’ basis for the acquisition of land and other natural resources for the establishment of Jewish settlements.”
Shehadeh then goes on to explain when he also became aware of a sort of collaboration between the Israeli authorities, who at least tried to maintain a façade of legal authority and the completely lawless settler militias. He describes how, while he was working for a West Bank-based human rights organisation in the 80’s, documenting incidents of settler violence, he soon realised that the Israeli authorities were aware that settlers were using intimidation and violence to take land and they turned a blind eye to it. Today, he tells us, settler violence against Palestinians is a daily event and it even has the open backing of the Israeli govt. and Israeli courts, as laws have been passed to legalise illegal settlements.
Shehadeh tells us that occupation, which was once seen as a burden to the Israeli authorities, is now seen as an asset because “Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for testing weapons and systems of surveillance. Israelis now market their crowd control weapons and systems of homeland security to the US, based on testing in the occupied territories.”