MİDDLE EAST

Oppression of Palestinians mounts under Netanyahu rule: NGOs

Since Netanyahu became PM – for second time – in 2009, conditions in occupied territories have worsened dramatically

News Service AA

A total of 3,316 Palestinians, including hundreds of women and children, have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip since Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minster (for the second time) in 2009, according to B'Tselem, an Israeli rights group.

Cited as the chief architect of Israel’s current oppressive policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Netanyahu served as prime minister during two bloody Israeli army operations against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

According to B'Tselem, a whopping 3,316 Palestinians have been killed since 2009, including 775 children and 334 women, in the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza.

Pounding Gaza

Gaza has paid the heaviest price during Netanyahu’s second, nine-year stint as premier. It was he who ordered Israel’s devastating "Pillar of Defense" and "Protective Edge" operations in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

These assaults inflicted massive damage on the coastal enclave, leaving hundreds of Palestinians dead and laying waste much of Gaza’s infrastructure.

According to B'Tselem, Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2012 left 167 Palestinian martyrs in its wake.

Two years later, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, launched by Netanyahu in mid-2014, made that year one of the bloodiest ever in Palestinian history.

Over the course of the 51-day onslaught, the Gaza Strip absorbed 6,000 airstrikes, 14,500 tank shells and more than 35,000 artillery rounds, according to UN figures.

Within the same period, 2,104 Palestinians were killed -- including 495 children and 253 women -- and more than 11,000 others were injured.

According to Palestinian sources, the assault left more than 3,000 homes completely destroyed and another 28,000 partly damaged, while some 65,000 Gazans were left homeless due largely to ruined infrastructure.

2018: More bloodshed

This year has seen yet more bloodshed under Netanyahu's command.

Since March 30, Palestinians have been holding almost-daily demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone, to which Israeli troops have responded with excessive force.

Protesters demand the right to return to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Earlier this year, as media outlets covered the rallies, Israeli soldiers could be seen gunning down protesters.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 225 Palestinians have been killed near the buffer zone since the demonstrations began on March 30, while thousands more have been injured, many seriously.

Casualties reportedly include 42 children, four women, three medical workers and two journalists. More than 100 Palestinians have had to have limbs amputated after sustaining bullet injuries near the fraught buffer zone.

Within the same period, random airstrikes and tank shells have left another 14 Palestinians in Gaza dead.

Al-Aqsa

The number of raids carried out by extremist Jews on East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex has also increased dramatically under Netanyahu’s leadership.

According to Palestinian sources, this year has seen more than 28,000 Jewish settlers force their way into the flashpoint holy site -- 2,000 more times than last year.

Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities have closed the mosque complex off to Muslim worshippers twice this year.

Razing homes

Under Netanyahu, the Israeli government has also continued preventing Palestinians from building in their communities.

Palestinians are seldom granted construction permits, while their homes are frequently razed by the Israeli authorities on grounds they were built “without authorization”.

According to a report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel demolished 133 homes in East Jerusalem this year, ostensibly due to licensing issues.

Adding insult to injury, the Israeli government typically forces Palestinians to cover the expense of destroying their homes.

West Bank raids

The arbitrary arrest of West Bank Palestinians has also continued unabated under Netanyahu’s premiership.

Israeli forces conduct overnight raids in the occupied West Bank on an almost daily basis, often arresting Palestinians on vague and unsubstantiated charges. This frequently includes women and children, who are held for days in detention centers before being released.

According to the Committee for the Families of Prisoners, an NGO, Israeli forces have temporarily detained as many as 1,600 Palestinians so far this year in Jerusalem alone. These reportedly include about 400 children, 30 of whom are under 14 years old.

According to official Palestinian sources, some 6,000 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, including 52 women, 270 minors, and six Palestinian lawmakers.

The Israeli army has also continued to forcibly disperse demonstrations -- with teargas and rubber bullets -- which are held every Friday across the West Bank to protest Israel’s policy of non-stop settlement expansion.

Along with Palestinian demonstrators, medical workers and journalists are frequently injured -- and occasionally killed -- during these dispersions.

Jewish-only settlements

The Netanyahu administration has also accelerated the pace of Israel’s illegal settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In September, Peace Now, an Israeli rights group, noted that, during the first half of 2018, construction had begun on more than 1,000 new settlement units, easily outstripping last year’s figure.

Today, there are 250 illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank (home to some 400,000 Israeli settlers) and another 18 in occupied East Jerusalem (home to some 220,000 settlers).

In 2015, settlers torched a Palestinian home in the Duma district near the West Bank city of Nablus, killing 18-month-old Ahmad Dawabsheh and both his parents.

In both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, extremist settlers often attack Palestinians -- including homes, vehicles and agricultural land -- with seeming impunity.

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