At the core of the outpost system lies the systemic violation of Palestinian human rights.
If we had to look for a good example of the meaning of the outpost system – the unofficial settlements Israel builds in the West Bank – we could hardly expect a better one than the one supplied by the minister of defense. Recently, commenting on an appeal that — contrary to publications — we have nothing to do with, and demands the removal of the Mizpe Kramim outpost, Defense Minister Moseh Ya’alon said (Hebrew) that: “This point was built legally, with the support of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. True, later someone appealed, an Israeli organization of course, a leftist organization that found some Arab who claims ownership.” Much as it painful that this is the level of understanding of a senior Israeli minister, the interesting part here is actually the part where Ya’alon talks about “some Arab claims ownership.”
Because here, with some brutality, Ya’alon touches on the main problem of the outpost movement: its violation of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank. Yesh Din’s research over the years, and particularly its report, “The Road to Dispossession,” which uses the outpost Adei-Ad as a microcosm, finds that the creation of an outpost is a steady source for unceasing violation of the rights of the Palestinian residents in the nearby villages. This violation is inherent in existence of the outpost.
Let me explain. When an outpost is created, it grabs territory, which later becomes the core of the outpost. This territory often includes private Palestinian land. Around the core there is what is known as the SSA – “special security area” – which Palestinians may not enter except on special occasions, since it serves as the perimeter of the outpost. Outside the SSA there is Palestinian land that becomes a source of friction.
Why is it a source of friction? Because the goal of outposts is to expand. Adei-Ad, our test case, now includes territory nearly 30 times its original size. How do outposts expand? Israeli civilians arrive in the vicinity and either attack Palestinian farmers or damage their crops. This is done in order to terrorize them and force them to abandon their land. When the land is abandoned, it is taken over. In order to do so, of course, the outposts require assistance from their main partner, the government of Israel: soldiers who do not prevent violations such as settler riots; policemen who do not properly investigate attacks on Palestinians; attorneys who close cases without due cause; a Civil Administration that does not enforce its own demolition orders; government offices that hurry to provide services for an illegal settlement; and at the end of the line – the state attorneys, who time after time appear in court to defend these massive violations of the law, not to mention postpone bringing an end to them for long as possible. Time after time, the state suggests legalizing these outposts as a gift to the lawbreakers.
The first violation of Palestinian rights is that of their right to property — in other words, the land that is lost when Israeli civilians take it over. A short while after that comes the violation of their right to life and security: if you go to work your land, note that there is a chance you will not return home in one piece. Palestinian freedom of movement is also violated: with the creation of an outpost and the declaration of an SSA, there are territories that keep expanding, and forbid Palestinians from entering.
All this ultimately leads to the violation of Palestinians’ right and ability to make a living. Two of the villages near Adei-Ad have already been emptied of many of their residents. An agricultural settlement, after all, cannot exist if its land is taken away by force.
We are not dealing with just one case: there are about 100 outposts. Every time one of them is legalized, it creates a precedent for the legalizing the next outpost, and creates incentives for Israeli civilians to seize more land and terrorize more Palestinians.
This isn’t an accident, it’s a system. The outposts are approved, as Ya’alon admitted, by the minister of defense and the prime minister. This is the system, as we have shown in our earlier post about the “Under the Radar” position paper, in which all government offices complicit; this is the system whose existence is now out in the open, without blushing, by the minister of defense. This system means the systemic, intentional, violation of Palestinian human rights, and it must stop.