The Issue of September 2023
Issue Number 5
Protests against the siege in Gaza.
the Editors of the issue
Razi Nabulsi
Ahmad Ezzeddin As'ad
Majdi al-Malki
Sawsan Samara
Rami Rayess

Throughout the month of September, the occupation forces used two main tools to suppress the peaceful marches that started from the Gaza Strip against the siege imposed since 2006: the first was the military tool, as they launched an airstrike against sites close to the demonstrations, in addition to sniper fire and poison tear gas bombs. The second tool was collective economic and humanitarian sanctions. The occupation forces closed the checkpoints, which prevented the exit of workers, numbering around 20 thousand, as well as the exit of humanitarian cases from the Gaza Strip. In practice, in addition to the military aggression against peaceful demonstrations, the occupation forces punished the entire sector, collectively, humanely, and economically, by maintaining the criminal siege that has been continuing for more than 15 years.

In the area of land control, the report shows that settler leaders in the West Bank have begun the process of actually implementing the “Shomron One Million Plan,” which aims to increase the number of settlers in the Nablus area to one million settlers. Indeed, the head of the Nablus Settlements Council, Yossi Dagan, agreed with the Israeli Minister of Transportation to double the central bypass roads in the West Bank, connecting the square and the city of Tel Aviv to the Jordan Valley, and to allocate millions of shekels from the Ministry of Transportation. In this context, it is important to point out two important factors: the first is that the Ministry of Transportation took over the work and not the Ministry of Security - which is considered an effective annexation without an announcement; the second is that this plan prevents the establishment of a geographically contiguous and independent Palestinian state.

Throughout this month, 21 Palestinians were martyred, with an average age of 23 years. The youngest was 15 years old, in addition to two martyrs under the age of 18 years, one of whom was shot with live bullets in the back, in a clear indication that he was fleeing during the occupation forces’ storming of the Al-Arroub refugee camp. As for the number of arrests, it reached 440 in September - an average of 14 arrests per day, including night raids, sieges of homes, and intimidation of families in different areas of the West Bank.

In the political field, a representative from the “Otzma Yehudit” party highlighted, this month, the participation in a fundraising campaign for the criminal convicted of killing the Dawabsha family, whom she described as righteous and holy. This is another reflection of the development of the status of the settlers and the “hilltop youth,” at a time when the Israeli political elites previously claimed that they were “stray weeds.” Today, it can be said that they have become part of the government, especially since the former official spokesman for the same MP was accused of participating in an attack on the village of Burqa several months ago, during which a young man, Qusay Maatan, was martyred. In this context, it is important to note that the number of settler attacks, according to OCHA - the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is 3 attacks per day - a significant increase from last year, when the average was two attacks per day in 2022.

Settlement and Land Control

  • On September 6, the Israeli Army’s Central Command chief, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, signed a military order specifying the areas under which three settlement outposts would be governed: “Avigail” and “Asael,” located south of the Hebron Governorate, in addition to “Beit Holga,” located in Jericho, and put them under regional councils. Thus, Fuchs endorsed an important stage in the process of legalizing the settlement outposts and granted them specific governance areas on the way to legitimizing and consolidating them. This is a decision that was taken by the mini-ministerial council, “the cabinet,” during the month of February of this year, and included legalizing 15 settlement outposts and 5 neighborhoods, which will be allocated to nearby settlements, which means expanding their rule and influence.
  • Israeli Minister of Transportation, Miri Regev, held a meeting with the head of the Nablus Settlements Council, Yossi Dagan. They agreed on September 7 to allocate NIS 500 million to double Road No. 505 - which leads to the Ariel and the Tapuah Junctions, which connect the Nablus settlements. This is in addition to an agreement to double road no. 5, which starts from Tel Aviv, ends in the Jordan Valley on the eastern border of Palestine, and passes through the Tapuah Junction, which is considered central to the Nablus settlements and the north of the West Bank in general. This meeting came within the framework of the plan initiated by Dagan during the month of August, which aims to increase the number of settlers in the Nablus area to one million settlers. In this context, it is important to point out that the Minister of Transportation’s announcement of a plan to connect the settlements with bypass roads in the West Bank is part of the actual annexation path that shifts responsibility for the West Bank from the Israeli Security and Military institution to the ministries that are considered “civilian” and were operating only within the green line.
  • On September 11, the occupation forces closed the entrances to the villages east of Yatta, namely, Khallet al-Mayya, Umm Lasfa, Al-Deirat, and Shaab Al-Butm, and Bedouin communities east of Yatta, south of Hebron, isolated them from their surroundings with earth mounds and cement cubes, and prevented residents from entering or leaving with their vehicles. The imhabitants of these villages suffer from the threat of forced displacement and repeated settler attacks. According to a report issued by the United Nations office, Israel is practically responsible for the displacement of 13 families, including 84 individuals, in Masafer Yatta, since the beginning of July 2023. On the same day, the occupation forces surrounded the entrances to the city of Jericho and erected several checkpoints at the entrances to the town. It is important to point out in this context that Jericho is the only exit for Palestinians, and the only entrance to the West Bank after they return from abroad.
  • On September 12, settlers seized a house in the Old City of Jerusalem, belonging to the Idris family, located in the Al-Qarmi neighborhood. The settlers took advantage of the family's presence in the hospital to accompany one of their members. They broke into the house, changed its locks, and then threw the family's furniture outside.
  • On September 23, the Planning and Building Committee of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem approved two plans to build two settlements in East Jerusalem. According to the plan, the first settlement will be established in the south of the city, specifically above the Arab town of Beit Safafa, and will be linked to the largest settlement in the region, “Givat Hamatos.” As for the second, it will be established in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood “Ras al-Amud,” which is one of the neighborhoods very close to the Old City. The settlement will include about 384 housing units, which will be exclusive to Jews, at a time when the Palestinians are suffering in Jerusalem in general, and in the “Ras al-Amud” neighborhood and “Silwan” in particular, due to demolition orders and the prevention of construction and expansion. Building the settlement inside the Palestinian neighborhood is a provocative move that will make the residents’ lives very difficult, especially since the settlers move with a military escort, and turn homes into military points, making the residents’ lives more like life in a camp.
  • On September 21, the occupation authorities renewed the order to seize 350 dunums of citizens’ lands in the villages of Qatna, Al-Qubayba, and Beit Anan, northwest of Jerusalem, and the town of Beit Laqya, west of Ramallah, after they had controlled them since 2004, under the pretext of using them for military purposes.
  • On September 28, the occupation forces bulldozed 40 dunums of land from the village of Kafr Haris, west of Salfit, uprooted about 3,000 olive, fig, and grape trees, removed stone chains, and destroyed internal roads.

Politicians and Racism

  • Knesset Member Limor Son Har Melech, from the Otzma Yehudit party, described the killer convicted of killing the Dawabsha family, Amiram Ben-Uliel, as “righteous and holy.” During a fundraising campaign for the murderer Ben-Uliel, the party representative claimed that he was “innocent” and that he was suffering in prison on behalf of all the people of Israel. This is despite the fact that Ben-Uliel confessed to the crime and gave investigators many details that he would not have known had he been innocent, according to an Israeli police officer who was part of the investigation team. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal submitted by his team of lawyers, saying in its ruling: “There is no doubt that he committed the crime.”
  • In addition to participating in the fundraising campaign, Har Melech took the initiative to sign a petition calling for improving the conditions of the criminal in prison, which was also signed by 14 representatives from the ruling coalition and was submitted to the head of the General Security Service - Shin Bet. Among the signatories were 8 representatives from the ruling Likud Party, including Nissim Vaturi, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, in addition to 6 representatives from the “Otzma Yehudit” party led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. They include the Minister of Jewish Heritage, Amihai Eliyahu, who also questioned Ben Uliel’s conviction. Son Har Melech did not hesitate to use the phrase “righteous and holy.” This is in addition to a campaign entitled “Justice for Ben-Uliel” that raised more than one million shekels, in which more than 5,000 donors participated.
  • National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir asked the director of the Israeli Prison Service to turn off the hot water in the sections of Palestinian political prisoners and deprive them of showers. The Israeli Channel 12 published the phone call between the minister and the director of the prison service, which the minister did not deny. He confirmed that it came after an operation took place in the “Ramot” settlement. This indicates that the minister is, in practice, taking retaliatory steps against the Palestinian prisoners, in response to what is happening outside prisons, which amounts to war crimes against prisoners and crimes of collective punishment.

Crimes and Violations

  • The Israeli occupation forces sweepingly prevented the removal of goods from the Gaza Strip on September 5. They seized materials that Israel considers prohibited in goods that were supposed to leave the Gaza Strip on September 4, in a step that falls within the framework of collective punishment for residents. The sector and its merchants who are already suffering due to the ongoing blockade.
  • Nour Shams refugee camp witnessed two major incursions during the month of September. The first day was on the 5th of the month, when the occupation army stormed the camp. Its bulldozers and vehicles destroyed the main street (Nablus Street) adjacent to the entrance to the camp, in addition to a number of Palestinian vehicles, and they executed a young man, Ayed Samih Abu Harb (21 years old), after he was wounded by live bullets in the head. Another young man was injured. The occupation forces also prevented ambulances from reaching the injured to take them to the hospital. The second raid occurred on September 24, when the occupation forces raided dozens of homes in the Jabal al-Nasr, Al-Manshiya, and Camp Square areas, and bulldozers once again destroyed a section of Nablus Street and the street leading to the Al-Mahjar and Al-Manshiya neighborhoods. The destruction included the infrastructure, water and sewage networks, and electricity grids. In addition to destroying Palestinian vehicles and vandalizing shops, two martyrs were killed during this aggression: Aseed Farhan Abu Ali (21 years old) and Abd al-Rahman Suleiman Abu Daghash (32 years old).
  • On the night of September 9, a group of Israeli army soldiers stormed the town of Kafr Qasim within the 1948 territories, and attacked the residents, after firing sound bombs and tear gas and destroying vehicles. According to residents' testimonies, the soldiers drew their weapons and attacked everyone who appeared in front of them in the streets. This military incursion is considered strange and exceptional because the town of Kafr Qasim is located within the Green Line, and its residents hold Israeli citizenship. As for the army’s story, it states that the soldiers entered the town to search for Palestinians from the West Bank working inside Israel without permits. However, this mass assault leaves no doubt that the soldiers, in practice, attacked everyone who appeared to be Arab, or was in the Arab area.
  • In this context, it is important to point out that Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir supported the soldiers and considered their entry into Kafr Qasim legitimate, considering that they were on a military mission to maintain security, ignoring the fact that Kafr Qasim is not subject to military rule and that the army is not allowed to operate there as it falls under the legal responsibility of the police.
  • The occupation forces announced a comprehensive lockdown on the Palestinians several times during the month on the occasion of the Jewish holidays. They practically besieged the Palestinians inside the isolation ghettos and prevented them from leaving during the Jewish holidays. On September 14, the occupation forces imposed a full closure on the West Bank. They closed the crossings with the Gaza Strip, from Friday afternoon until Saturday-Sunday night, coinciding with the Hebrew New Year. This also happened on the occasion of Yom Kippur, when Israeli forces imposed a comprehensive siege on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on September 23 and 24. On September 29, Israel announced a comprehensive lockdown on the Palestinians for a period of 8 full days, on the occasion of the Jewish “Sukkot” holiday, which ended on Sunday, October 7.
  • On Sunday, September 17, Israeli forces closed the Erez crossing, three days after it was also closed due to Rosh Hashanah. The closure continued until September 28. This means that the crossing remained closed for 14 consecutive days. In general, only Gazan workers, who number about 20,000, and humanitarian cases who go out for treatment with their companions, leave through the crossing. Therefore, closing it constitutes a crime added to the crime of the siege originally imposed on the Gaza Strip, and leaves these humanitarian cases without treatment. This closure came due to renewed protest demonstrations against the siege, which makes it a collective punitive step against Gazans.
  • During the month, the occupation forces suppressed the protest demonstrations organized by the people of the Gaza Strip against the ongoing siege of the separation fence, using bombs, tear gas, and live bullets, which led to the injury of dozens of demonstrators several times during the month. On September 15, 12 Palestinians, including a journalist, sustained injuries of varying severity. On the 21st of the same month, two Palestinians were injured, one of them seriously, as a result of being targeted by Israeli snipers. On the 22nd of the month, 22 Palestinians sustained injuries of varying degrees, and the attack was accompanied by a bombing operation using a drone. In addition to the attack, Israeli forces bombed, more than once, sites in the Gaza Strip near the demonstrators, respectively on the 7th, 14th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th. In practice, Israel suppressed the demonstrations by using air force and snipers, and by dropping bombs.
  • On September 19, the occupation forces bombed the Jenin refugee camp with a suicide drone. This led to the death of 4 Palestinians and the injury of 20 others, in addition to major damage to homes and infrastructure, and the spread of panic and fear among the refugees inside the camp.
  • On September 24, the occupation forces stormed Birzeit University at dawn, and arrested a number of students from inside the campus, namely: Abdul Majeed Hassan (President of the Student Union Council), Amr Khalil (Coordinator of the Islamic Bloc), Abdullah Najm (Coordinator of the Student Council’s Studies Committee), Ahmed Aweidat (Secretary of the Sports Committee), Yahya Farah (Student Council Member), Muhammad Nakhla (former Student Council Member), Mahmoud Nakhla, Hassan Alwan, and Muhammad Najm. “According to the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University, the occupation forces are detaining more than 80 students from Birzeit University in their prisons, along with the students arrested today. This is the 20th raid in the past 28 years, the last of which was in 2022.”

Settler attacks

  • During the month, approximately 101 settler attacks on Palestinians and their property were recorded in various areas of the West Bank. A report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) focused on the following areas: preventing access to land, physical attacks on Palestinians, threats and intimidation, grazing by herds of settlers’ livestock on Palestinian agricultural crops, damage to property, and cultivating or fencing agricultural lands and pastures. This is a noticeable increase, as the number of settler attacks in 2022 was two attacks per day.
  • On September 2, two Palestinians sustained bruises as a result of settlers’ assault on sheep shepherds from the village of Al-Mughayir, east of the city of Ramallah, when they were severely beaten with sticks. On the same day, settlers attacked farmers in the town of Qusra, south of Nablus, while the farmers were working on their lands. The occupation army supported the settlers, which led to eight injuries among the inhabitants of Qusra during the army’s attack. A group of settlers stormed the outskirts of the town of Ni'lin, west of Ramallah, uprooting and destroying 74 olive trees in the town.
  • On September 4, settlers severely beat Ahmed Ismail Abu Aram while he was on his way home in Khirbet Halawa in Masafer Yatta, and stole his medicine, his donkey, and his purchases. The following day, they burned two tents housing a family in the town of Deir Dibwan, east of Ramallah, and the settlers stole four heads of sheep.
  • Jewish holidays witnessed many attacks against Palestinians, especially in the vicinity of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque area. In general, the raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque, which involved hundreds of settlers on September 3, 13, 17 and 23, were accompanied by Talmudic prayers, attacks on commercial shops, and also provocative marches, in which Israeli police, who usually keep the Palestinians away to allow settlers to spread around the mosque, the old city and its markets, took part. On September 24, which coincided with the Jewish “Day of Atonement,” the number of settlers who stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque exceeded 600 settlers per day.
  • On September 23, the child Usaid Khaled Al-Hadar (4 years old) suffered facial burns after settlers sprayed him with pepper gas. This came during the settlers’ pursuit of sheep herders in Masafer Yatta, as part of the successive attacks they carry out against the Bedouin communities in Area C, with the aim of expelling them from these open areas and expanding the settlements there. An example is the Susya settlement established in the same area. In order for it to be expanded, the Bedouin community in the town of Susya, where the child and his father, who herded sheep, came from, was evacuated, and the father was also attacked. In this context, it must be noted that the settlers promoted new maps of the Masafer Yatta area, aiming to control about 400 dunams. They distributed the maps to the Palestinian communities in the Masafer, declaring that they are prohibited from reclaiming the lands, in preparation for settlement there. This is in addition to the Israeli authorities removing the main water network of the village of Susiya on the 28th of the month, which makes the picture of Israeli targeting integrated between settlers, soldiers, and civil administrations.

Martyrs and Wounded

During the month of September, 21 Palestinians were martyred. The average age of the martyrs was 23 years. The youngest was Raafat Khamaysa (15 years old) from the Jenin Governorate. Six martyrs were from Gaza, 5 were martyred in the Jenin Governorate, 3 in the Nour Shams camp in the Tulkarm Governorate, two martyrs in Jericho Governorate, two martyrs in Ramallah, and one martyr in each of the following governorates: Tubas, Hebron, and Khan Yunis. Approximately 244 Palestinians were injured with various wounds by live and rubber bullets, and hundreds of cases of suffocation were caused by tear gas.

  • On September 5, the occupation forces executed a boy, Youssef Zubaidat, aged 17 years. He was a junior high school student from the village of Zubaidat, north of Jericho and Al-Aghwar Governorate. They also seized his body, after they shot him with live bullets. Then, the occupation arrested his father and brother for interrogation.
  • On September 9, the occupation forces shot a boy, Milad Munther Al-Ra’i (17 years old), from the Al-Arroub refugee camp, which led to his death due to a bullet in his back. It seemed that he was trying to escape from the occupation forces that were besieging the camp.
  • On September 19, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated 4 Palestinians in the Jenin camp using a drone, after they surrounded the house of a young man. They later announced that they were planning to carry out operations, which clearly indicates a policy of undeclared summary executions. Among the martyrs in the Israeli invasion was a boy, Raafat Khamaysa (15 years old), who was present in his grandfather’s house. Israeli special forces assassinated him, after he revealed their presence inside the camp.

Arrests and Prisoner Cases

During the month of September, approximately 440 Palestinians were arrested from different areas of Palestine. These arrests included, in general, house raids and incursions into Palestinian city centers in late night hours, which makes them closer to home kidnappings than regular arrests. Among the most prominent arrests and detentions this month:

  • On September 4, the Palestinian occupation forces arrested Fatima Amarneh (41 years old) from the city of Jenin, as she was leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque. One of the soldiers kicked her with his leg, claiming that she had tried to stab him. Then he attacked her, accompanied by several soldiers, who beat her severely until she lost consciousness. She then found herself handcuffed inside a military vehicle surrounded by female soldiers. The detainee was then transferred to Al-Qashla investigation center. The investigating officer continued the torture ordeals, as she was assaulted by beating and her privacy as a veiled girl was violated. The female soldiers then searched her, while she was naked, several times.
  • On September 5, the occupation forces detained the Director-General of the Bisan Research Center, researcher Abi Aboudi, and prevented him from traveling while he was at the Allenby border crossing between the Palestinian and Jordanian territories. They handed him an order and he was summoned for investigation by Israeli intelligence.
  • Prisoner Kayed Al-Fasfous (34 years old) from the town of Dura, south of Hebron, is still on a hunger strike, in protest against his administrative detention for the 58th day. His health condition has deteriorated, which necessitated his transfer from the cell in Ashkelon Prison to the Ramla Prison clinic.

Sources of Rased issue
WAFA - Palestinian News Agency
Peace Now
Institute for Palestine Studies
Department of Palestinian Negotiations Affairs
Israeli newspapers and media websites
Palestinian newspapers and media websites
Addameer - Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association