More on Israeli Stone Quarries in the West Bank: Yesh Din asks for wider review

The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din has just filed a petition with Israel’s Supreme Court [High Court of Justice] asking for a further hearing in the case of Israeli-owned stone quarries operating in the West Bank.

Yesh Din first challenged the legality of Israeli quarrying activities in the occupied West Bank in a petition filed in March 2009.

The petition focuses on the specific case of the stone quarries, but it exposes many of the incongruencies and the quite deliberate ambiguities of the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

On 26 December 2011, after almost two years of deliberation, a panel of judges of Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ), chaired by Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, “dismissed the petition and held that the quarrying activities are legal and do not violate the provisions of international law”.

Yesh Din has said that it considers that ruling “in our view both factually and legally mistaken”.

Yesh Din’s legal adviser, Attorney Michael Sfard indicated strong disagreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling by stating that ‘Quarrying natural resources in an occupied territory for the economic benefit of the occupying state is pillage”.

Yesh Din’s has posted its reaction to the Israeli High Court ruling on 26 December here.

Yesh Din has challenged, in the petition, the legality of Israeli actions during its prolonged occupation of a territory on which Israel evidently has an as-yet-unspecified claim.

Though Israel officially deals with the situation as an occupation, it avoids to the maximum extent possible using the word, or discussing the consequences.

Israeli arguments of ideological position generally say that the Palestinian territory is “disputed” rather than “occupied”.

Israel does not dispute, however, that its Ministry of Defense administers the West Bank.

And, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has installed a “Civil Administration” which restrictively regulates most aspects of Palestinian life in the West Bank. Israeli life in the West Bank, by contrast, is governed by Israeli law — in effect, creating a slow, partial, unclear and unofficial, but progressive, annexation.

While “facts on the ground” are proceeding apace, there has not yet been an official Israeli act of annexation. If and when annexation is declared, an international uproar can be expected.

Meanwhile, Palestinians argue that the Israeli creation of facts on the ground — particularly, though not exclusively, Israeli settlement-building — is intended to make the situation irreversible.

The exact nature of Israel’s claims to the Israeli/Jewish settlements that that the government has overtly and officially facilitated is still unstated.

It has become apparent that Israel does not want to evacuate not only the three or four major Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank, but also isolated settlements, and now even what have been called “unauthorized outposts”.

The new Yesh Din petition filed on January 10 asks for further Supreme Court review of the Israeli quarries’ continued exploitation of a Palestinian natural resource — by an expanded panel of judges.

In its new request, Yesh Din argues that “Relaxing the prohibition on harm to the capital of properties of the occupied territory lays the legal foundation for irreversible economic exploitation of occupied territory by an Occupying Power, despite the fact that the prohibition on such exploitation is amongst the primary objectives (and therefore amongst the primary principles) of the international law of occupation”

In fact, Yesh Din argues, the recent Supreme Court decision “permits the Occupier (in a prolonged occupation) to make use, for its own purposes, of plunder found in the occupied territory: to pump water found there, to transfer archeological findings out of the occupied territory, to exploit open spaces for waste disposal, to sell public property and other such irreversible acts which harm or alter the capital of public properties.”

To clarify the matter, Yesh Din said it is specifically requesting the High Court of Justice to hold a further hearing with a broader panel of judges, on the following questions:

  • What are the boundaries of the State of Israel’s authority in relation to its administration of the natural resources belonging to the territories occupied by Israel in ‘belligerent occupation’, and in this context, what is the relationship between Article 55 and Article 43 of the Annex to the fourth Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907)?
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  • Specifically, does an Occupying Power, in a prolonged occupation, have the authority to grant its citizens, or corporations owned by its citizens and/or registered in the Occupying Power, rights to quarry natural resources in occupied territory in general, and in quarries which did not exist prior to the occupation, in particular?
  • In as far as an Occupying Power is permitted to grant rights to quarry natural resources in occupied territory, is this authority subordinate to the principle of ‘continuity’ or to the principle of ‘reasonableness’?
  • Does the fact that Israeli quarries provide employment opportunities for Palestinians and pay royalties to the Civil Administration make granting these rights an act which should be considered, from a legal perspective, “for the benefit of the local population”?

The full request [in Hebrew, for those who read Hebrew] is posted here.

We have written earlier posts about the Supreme Court ruling on the Yesh Din petition, here and here.

Continue reading More on Israeli Stone Quarries in the West Bank: Yesh Din asks for wider review

What is the Occupation (cont'd): Israeli Military Justice System in the West Bank – UPDATED

This is a rough cut of a film, entitled The Law in These Parts, apparently made by Israeli director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz [correcting our earlier report identifying Ohad Nave as the filmmaker, with this new information posted by Joseph Dana on Monday].

This film is expected to be released later in the year, according to a Tweet on Sunday from @ibnezra (Joseph Dana).

UPDATE: In his later report posted on +972 Magazine, here Dana quoted from what he said was a press release for the film, which states: “Since Israel conquered the territories in the 1967 War, the Israeli Defense Forces legal corps have created and implemented thousands of military orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This complex system which is invisible to most Israelis is very present in Palestinian daily life and is unique in the entire world”.

What’s shown here is video footage of one of the Israeli military judges, working in Nablus in 1989 (during the first Palestinian Intifada), and today — interviewed (as are several other judges shown here, separately) about whether he knew how the information was obtained in the confessions he was given to convict Palestinians (by their own testimony, under pressure if not full torture, without legal assistance).

It is very difficult to watch — though there is no graphic physical violence shown in this footage — and it is painfully, exquisitely revealing of human emotions:

It was first posted on Vimeo [in a version over 23 minutes long], then removed on Monday.

UPDATE on 25 January 2012: Now that the film is being screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Colorado, and elsewhere, it has now been removed from public view on Youtube as well — and is low listed as “Private”, with permission needed for access…

A shortened version [just over 12 minutes long] is now posted on Youtube, here:

UPDATE: It’s strange that this video has been removed from the Vimeo site, which identified Ohad Nave as filmmaker, and in its place is only a message reading: “Sorry, “The Law In These Parts” was deleted at 11:13:43 Mon Jul 18, 2011. We have no more information about it on our mainframe or elsewhere”.

This is a version of the text that was produced automatically by the Vimeo site: The Law In These Parts, a rough cut of a film from Ohad Nave posted on Vimeo.

The Israeli military justice system continues to operate in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory Those accused (only Palestinians) have far fewer rights than in Israeli courts inside “Israel proper”. Some 1 million Palestinians are estimated to have passed through the Israeli military justice system in the West Bank. Between 6-7,000 are in Israeli jails detention centers now, including 220 in “Administrative Detention” — in which security services present their evidence in secret, and even those accused do not know what this evidence is, so they have no way to refute it. Israeli military judges almost always accept these secret dossiers, and hand down the security-requested detention orders, which are renewable (generally, according to Al-Haq, from six months to six years). There are also between 2-300 children in Israeli jails or detention centers.

Many of those Palestinians convicted under the Israeli military justice system are transferred to jails or detention centers inside “Israel proper” (meaning outside the West Bank or Gaza) — though this is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the Israeli Supreme Court has approved the practice. Moving the prisoners or detainees into Israel makes it difficult if not impossible for family visits.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recently gone public (at the end of June) with a complaint, which we wrote about here, that families from Gaza have been prohibited from entering Israel to visit their detained relatives and loved ones since mid-June 2007 (following the Hamas rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security Services).