Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession

Occupying and illegally using it to create settlements that exclusively house Jewish Israeli settlers.

Entire Palestinian communities have been displaced by these settlements. Their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, they’ve had restrictions enforced on their movement, access to their own water, land and other natural resources. The communities have also been violently attacked by the Israeli military and settlers. We must act now.

We want governments to stop enabling the economy that keeps these illegal settlements growing and fuels the suffering of Palestinians: and you can help.

The issue is not just about Israel taking Palestinian land and resources illegally. Governments around the world are letting goods produced in these settlements into their markets, and are allowing companies in their countries to operate in settlements. All of this helps the illegal settlements profit and thrive.

Call on your government now to ban Israeli settlement goods from entering your markets, and to stop companies based in your country operating in settlements or trading in their goods – and help put an end to the cycle of violations suffered by Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation.

50 Years of Settlements

Israel’s relentless land grab: Illegal Israeli settlements

Israel’s policy of constructing and expanding illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land is one of the main driving forces behind the mass human rights violations resulting from the occupation. Over the past 50 years, Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian properties and displaced large swathes of the population to build homes and infrastructure to illegally settle its own population in the occupied territories. It has also diverted Palestinian natural resources such as water and agricultural land for settlement use.

The very existence of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime. Despite multiple UN resolutions, Israel has continued to appropriate Palestinian land and support at least 600,000 settlers living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Until 2005, more than 9,000 Israeli settlers were illegally residing in Gaza.

In recent months, Israel has accelerated settlement expansion. The government has announced plans for thousands of new homes in existing settlements, as well as the establishment of two new settlements in the occupied West Bank.

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As well as illegally building settlement homes and infrastructure on Palestinian land, Israeli and international businesses in settlements have established a thriving economy to sustain their presence and expansion. This “settlement enterprise” relies on unlawfully appropriated Palestinian resources, including land, water and minerals, to produce goods that are exported and sold for private profit. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of settlement goods are exported internationally each year.

We want governments to stop enabling the economy that keeps these illegal settlements growing and fuels the suffering of Palestinians: and you can help. 

Call on your government now to ban Israeli settlement goods from entering your markets, and to stop companies based in your country operating in settlements or trading in their goods – and help put an end to the cycle of violations suffered by Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation.

The hundreds of Israeli military closures across the West Bank such as checkpoints, roadblocks and settler-only roads, as well as the overall permit regime, make simple daily tasks for Palestinians who are trying to get to work, school or hospital a constant struggle. Israel claims the winding 700-km fence/wall is there to prevent armed attacks on Israel by Palestinians. But that does not explain why 85% of it is built on Palestinian land, including land deep inside the West Bank. What the fence/wall does is cut off Palestinian communities from each other and rip families apart. It also deprives Palestinians from accessing essential services and separates farmers from their land and other resources, crippling the Palestinian economy. Inherently discriminatory and unjust laws also prevent many people from being able to marry, or travel within the occupied territories or into Israel to visit or live with their loved ones. These arbitrary restrictions are discriminatory and unlawful and must be lifted immediately.

Although Israel withdrew ground troops from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it maintains an illegal air, sea and land blockade on Gaza and maintains a so-called “access-restricted area” or buffer zone within Gaza. These have cut off more than 2 million Palestinians from other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the outside world for 10 years.

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Restrictions on natural resources

As well as controlling where Palestinians can go and who they see, Israel also controls and arbitrarily restricts their access to safe, clean water. Water consumption by Israelis is at least four times that of Palestinians living in the OPT.

Israel’s restrictive allocation of water to Palestinians neither meets the Palestinian population’s basic needs nor constitutes a fair distribution of shared water resources. Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements on occupied land – lush green even at the height of the dry season – stand in stark contrast next to the parched and arid Palestinian villages on their doorstep, where residents struggle to have enough water to wash, take a shower, cook, clean or drink, let alone to water their crops.

50 Years of Forced Evictions, demolitions, forcible transfer

Over the past 50 years, Israel has forcibly evicted and displaced entire Palestinian communities and demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and structures, leaving thousands homeless and causing terrible suffering and trauma. Israeli forces have also forcibly transferred many Palestinians either within the occupied territories, or into exile. Ongoing home demolitions are one of the main reasons for continuous transfer today. These measures allow Israel to maintain control of Palestinian land and resources, to enable illegal settlement expansion and push Palestinians out of certain areas deemed strategic, such as the fertile Jordan Valley or East Jerusalem. They are also carried out as punitive measures and amount to collective punishment.

50 years of violations

50 Years of arbitrary arrests, detention and unfair trials

Since 1967, Israel’s authorities have arrested hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, under military orders, many of which criminalize a wide range of peaceful activities. At times of heightened tension and violence, men and boys in entire villages have been rounded up in mass arbitrary arrests. During the Palestinian uprising between 1987 and 1993, some 100,000 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces.

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Israeli authorities also have arbitrarily detained tens of thousands of Palestinians, including prisoners of conscience, holding them indefinitely in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Israel’s 50-year-old policy of detaining Palestinians from the occupied territories in prisons inside Israel violates international law. Palestinian prisoners also face restrictions on family visits, access to education and medical care, amongst others.

Israel has also set up military courts which do not ensure basic fair trial guarantees to prosecute Palestinians. Virtually all cases brought before the military courts end in convictions. Most convictions are the result of plea bargains as Palestinians defendants know that the entire system is so unfair that they will be convicted and given a longer sentence if they go to trial. By contrast, Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are prosecuted before Israeli civilian courts in Israel and enjoy greater legal protections under Israeli civilian law.

To this day, torture is not criminalized in Israeli law, paving the way for Palestinian prisoners to be tortured and otherwise ill-treated while in Israeli custody.

50 years of unlawful killings

Israeli forces have a long record of using excessive and often lethal force against Palestinian men, women, and children, including to retaliate against protesters and stifle dissent. Thousands have been killed and many more injured.  The authorities’ failure to conduct thorough, impartial and independent investigations to break the cycle of impunity has enabled these violations to continue over half a century.

Since 1987, more than 10,200 Palestinians have been killed, often in circumstances suggesting that the killings were unlawful and may amount to war crimes. In the same period, over 1,400 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. Of these, hundreds have been civilians killed by Palestinian armed groups in attacks that constitute crimes under international law.