High Court allows Israel to mine Palestinian Territories

Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

In rejecting a petition regarding Israeli-owned quarries in the West Bank, the court rules that they benefit the Palestinians as well

Who owns and is allowed to use the sand and rocks of the West Bank? This question was at the center of a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice, submitted by Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din in 2009. Yesh Din asked the court to stop the operations of eight quarries under Israeli ownership, claming that they take away valuable resources from the Palestinian people and from a future Palestinian state.

Some 94 percent of the materials produced in the Israeli quarries in the West Bank is transported to Israel, accounting for the needs of more than a quarter of the market.

The petition relied on an article in the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, allowing an occupier to use the resources in the occupied land only for the needs and benefits of the occupied people.

Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.

Yesterday (Monday) the Israeli High Court rejected the petition, allowing the quarries to continue their work.

Here is a link to the full ruling [Hebrew only]

Some of the arguments the court gives are very strange, if not entirely corrupt: The court accepts, for example, the claim that since Palestinians are employed in mining work for the Israeli companies who own the quarries, one could say that Israel is actually helping the local economy. It also notes the fact that the quarries pay (low) taxes to the army’s administrative authority in the West Bank, which uses the money for its daily operations in the area.

In other words, the quarries not only take advantage of the the Palestinians’ natural resources, they are also used to cover the expenses of maintaining the occupation, which makes them even more profitable for Israel.

The court also cites previous cases, in which it declared the circumstances of the Israeli occupation “unique,” in a way that demands certain “adjustments” to the rights and duties of the occupiers. What is the reason for this unique situation? Among other things, that the Israeli occupation has been going on for so long. Israel, the court says, “is responsible for the development and growth of the area, in various ways” (article 10 in the ruling). Only in the Orwellian language of the occupation can developing the area be interpreted to mean profits through the shipping of its natural resources to Israel.

Addressing these arguments, Attorney Michael Sfard, legal advisor for Yes Din, said of the ruling, “Quarrying natural resources in an occupied territory for the economic benefit of the occupying state is pillage, and the court’s reasoning that a long-term occupation should be treated differently cannot legalize an economic activity that harms the local residents.”

Finally, the verdict also quotes the fact that in the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians agreed to let the quarries operate until the final agreement on the status of the land. The court fails to mention that the final agreement should have been signed, according to the Oslo Accords, by 1999. Still, this rationale demonstrates the destructive role the Palestinian Authority currently plays by allowing Israel to avoid the full legal implications and political consequences of its policies in the territories it occupied in 1967.

The Court concludes that the petition should be rejected for the reasons above, in addition to a few others. The head of the court, Dorit Beinisch, wrote the ruling herself. It was accepted unanimously by the two other justices hearing the case.


The Israeli High Court is often praised as a liberal institution and a unique model of judicial supervision in the toughest of circumstances. The Court has in fact registered some achievements in Israeli society and even with regards to the Arab minority of Israeli citizens, but in the West Bank and Gaza, it has done nothing but provide Israel with a cover of legitimacy for its activities.

The High Court’s track record is very clear: It never questions or stops Israeli policies. At best, it asks for some adjustments to be made.

In the late seventies, the High Court approved the settlements, only adding limits to the State’s ability to confiscate private land belonging to Palestinian individuals; a decade later, the court sanctioned torture (but also issued some vague rules over the circumstances in which it could be used); it allowed targeted assassinations; and it approved the construction of the separation wall deep inside Palestinian territory, only demanding it be moved it in a few cases.

In short, the High Court has never been a venue to challenge the occupation, but quite the opposite – it is one of the branches that institutionalized it, by setting rules and providing a legal cover to colonial policies, for political persecution and for oppression. One can only conclude that in the context of the West Bank, the High Court has been and still is a fundamental element in the construction and maintenance of what is, in essence, apartheid.

Conviction rate for Palestinians in Israel’s military courts: 99.74%

Posted: November 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, unarmed protest | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Unlike Jews, Palestinians under Israeli control in the West Bank are tried in military courts, where the rights of defendants rights are minimal, and the prosecution enjoys a low burden of proof and – most importantly – wears the same uniforms as the judges – IDF uniforms. In a military court, the testimony of a soldier who arrested a Palestinian can be enough to send a minor to prison. The results are staggering: Palestinians have no chance to walk free from an Israeli trial.

A new internal IDF document revealed today by Haaretz shows that in 2010, 99.74 percent of the trials of Palestinians  in Israeli military courts ended in convictions. That’s 25 acquittals, out of 9,542 cases.

It seems that the system is getting better: In 2006, a report by Human Rights NGO Yesh Din showed that 99.71 percent of Palestinian defendants in Israeli military courts were convicted. That’s 26 acquittals out of 8,854.

Between 2005-2010, 835 Palestinian minors were accused of stone-throwing in Israeli military courts. One was acquitted.

Military justice is to justice as military music is to music, the saying goes. The system that Israel employs to arrest, prosecute and punish Palestinians over the last almost half century is the best proof of that.

Read more on the Israeli military court system:
Hope ends here: The children’s court at Ofer Military Prison
In the West Bank, there is no justice, even for children
New film tackles military justice system in the West Bank

Hebron “water thieve” fined, sentenced for 3 months in Israeli prison

Posted: August 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Palestinian News Agency: Father in “crying boy” video convicted of assaulting soldiers by IDF military court

Palestinian news agency Maan reports that Fadel Jaberi, the father of little Khaled Jaberi, was sentenced to three months in Israeli prison. The video of Fadel’s arrest in front of the sobbing four year old Khaled received considerable media attention outside Israel in the past few weeks.

Fadel and his brother Wadee were arrested during a military raid on the Jaberi farm, after the head of the family, Badran Jaberi, connected his water system to a pipe running through his fields to a nearby settlement. Palestinian farmers don’t receive water from Israel in the Hebron area.

This is form Maan (h/t Apartheid Watch):

HEBRON (Ma’an) — The father of a recently spotlighted child who was filmed begging Israeli forces to release his dad from detention has been sentenced to three months in prison plus a fine, relatives said Wednesday.

Footage of Fadil Al-Jabari’s four-year-old son Khalid sobbing at the sight of his father being dragged away sparked outrage. “You dog, give me my dad. I want daddy. I want daddy. Give me my dad,” Khalid cried.

Fadil was charged with obstructing an arrest and striking an officer, both charges that he denied. Khalid’s uncle was sentenced along with his father, also for three months, family members told Ma’an.

Last week I posted here Haaretz’s Gidoen Levy’s account of the arrest, as it was told to him by the Jaberi family.

Notice that both Fadel and Wadee were sentenced for assaulting the soldiers, a very common charge in Israeli military courts, and one that it’s almost impossible to defend.

All Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military rule, and are tried in military courts, where suspects’ rights are limited and the burden on the prosecution is practically non-existing. The result – an astonishing 99.7 conviction rate, with most suspects signing a plea bargain, since they know they don’t stand any real chance of walking away free. The average hearing of a Palestinian in an Israeli military court takes two minutes.


More on Hebron water wars: Here is a very recent vidoe from South Hebron area. It’s in Hebrew, but you can clearly see the Palestinians and Israeli activists confronting the settlers who are trying to prevent them from filling a water hole (2:27 min). The soldiers try to separate the two sides, but they end up declaring the entire area a “closed militry zone” (6:50), so the Palestinians and activists are forced to leave.

Military Courts: You can read more about the Israeli military courts in the West Bank on Yesh Din’s 2008 report, a part of the organization’s ongoing Military Courts Project.