Fatah under attack over statehood proposal
A Hamas leader on Dec. 27 said that the draft resolution for Palestinian statehood presented to the UN Security Council is "disastrous," and that it has "no future in the land of Palestine." The statement comes amid growing criticism at home of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' push for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state, with some calling the move a symbolic gesture that distracts from the larger struggle to end the Israeli occupation. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar, however, took a harder line, saying in a statement that Hamas would not accept the resolution because of its focus on the 1967 borders, and not on the entirety of historic Palestine. He said that the movement will only accept the complete 1948 borders, and will refuse to consider allowing Jerusalem to be a capital for both Palestinian and Israeli states. (Ma'an, Dec. 26)
The controversy comes amid growing violence. On Dec. 24, an IDF soldier was seriously wounded by sniper fire along the southern border of the Gaza Strip, prompting the army to return fire—the most serious escalation along the Gaza border since the 50-day summer conflict ended. According to the IDF, a Palestinian sniper opened fire on an IDF patrol near the Kisufim area in the southern Strip. The IDF then returned artillery and aerial fire, targeting the sources of the initial fire near Khirbet Hazaa as well as Hamas positions. A Palestinian report said the IDF fired tank shells into in the southern Strip. Hamas sources reported that the head of the local reconnaissance unit in the southern Strip was killed, and three others wounded. (YNet, Dec. 24)
On Dec. 25 that two Israeli settlers were injured after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at their car as it drove in the Jewish settlement of Maale Shomeron, in the Qalqiliya area of the West Bank. The Israeli military said in a statement that an 11-year-old girl was severely burned and her father lightly injured.
Maale Shomeron is a Jewish-only settlement immediately beside the Palestinian village of Azun, and is built on land confiscated from a number of local Palestinian villages. Maale Shomeron is part of a larger settlement bloc home to more than 11,000 Jews that curves deep into the West Bank, surrounding a number of Palestinian villages on at least three sides and preventing Palestinians from freely moving in the area. (Ma'an, Dec. 26)
That same day, Israeli forces destroyed a dairy factory in the Hebron village of al-Burj, the owner told Ma'an News Agency. Yasser Muhammad Salim Masharqa said that Israeli troops and civil administration officers escorted two bulldozers to the village and demolised the steel structure. The factory was located near the separation wall in the southwest of the Hebron district. The owner was not allowed to remove machinery from the plant before the demolition. Israel has demolished at least 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank so far in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. (Ma'an, Dec. 25)
Also that day, Israeli forces demolished EU-funded irrigation pools in the northern Jordan Valley, locals told Ma'an. Israeli military vehicles arrived in the area of al-Jiftlik accompanied by bulldozers and demolished six irrigation pools used by Palestinian farmers. The construction of the pools was funded by grants from European donor countries. The pretext for the demolition was based on a "military order," locals said. The Jordan Valley covers around 30% of the occupied West Bank. Over 90% of the area is designated as Area C and off-limits to Palestinian construction. (Ma'an, Dec. 27)
Palestinian popular resistance activists in the southern West Bank on Dec. 27 attempted to build a tent village near the Jewish settlement of Gush Etzion in protest of Israeli confiscation of Palestinian lands. Dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists took part in a march near the town of Beit Fajjar to mark the beginning of the protest village, which was erected on lands Israel has declared its intention to confiscate. During the protest, however, Israeli forces arrived in the area and prevented the marchers from reaching the confiscated lands.
Coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committees in the southern West Bank, Muhammad Mheisen, said that the village would be named after slain Palestinian official Minister Ziad Abu Ein, who died after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the village of Turmusayya near Ramallah in early December. Israeli land confiscatio has accelerated markedly in the second half of 2014.
Since the start of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Israel has confiscated hundreds of thousands of dunums, by declaring them state lands. Israeli authorities in 1968 banned Palestinians from registering their lands, and subsequently took advantage of previously low rates of land registration to confiscate areas in use by locals but not registered. The confiscated lands were often used to construct Jewish settlements on the lands, with further confiscations carried out on the pretext of the settlements' security. (Ma'an, Dec. 27)