In the first month since President Joe Biden has taken office, Israel has escalated its home demolition campaign, settlement expansion and all out aggression against the Palestinian people. Even worse is that Biden has been completely silent.
In the month of February, Israel has made approximately 150 Palestinians homeless, due to illegal home demolitions in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem (al-Quds). The home demolition campaign had one of its worst years on record last year, with 610 Palestinians being left homeless in the West Bank and 379 left homeless in East Jerusalem, according to B’tselem. Roughly half of the close to 1000 Palestinians made homeless were children and this year seem to have all the tell tale signs of being a similar repeat.
Perhaps one of the worst, Jerusalem based, cases we’ve seen in recent years occurred in al-Issawiya (East Jerusalem), on February 22. Israeli forces demolished a home belonging to the Olayyan family, making 17 homeless including small children. The case specifically enraged local Jerusalemite residents, due to its scale and led to the family setting up tents on the site of their demolished home, living there as an act of protest and to show their lack of options after being made homeless.
Even worse was the demolition of 40 homes in the Jordan Valley area, in early February, leaving 11 Palestinian families homeless. This act had been described as a blatant act of ethnic cleansing and was widely condemned as a violation of international law.
Also in the Gaza Strip, not only has Israel been routinely opening fire upon fishermen, but is also destroying the besieged coastal enclaves remaining agricultural lands. Israel purposefully opened its rainwater floodgates twice this month in order to destroy Palestinian crops and submerge equipment. The destruction caused to the 148 acres East of Gaza City and 24.7 acres in Beit Hanoun, cost 1.5 million US dollars worth of damage.
The Gaza Strip has been declared, by experts at the United Nations, as of last year to be completely unlivable. Gaza’s health care system is overburdened, with little space having existed in the ICU’s prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the territory. Yet, despite the suffering in Gaza, solely caused by Israel’s brutal siege and military operations, Israel had routinely sabotaged the arrival of P.P.E. into Gaza and had stalled the transfer of 2,000 Sputnik Vaccines from reaching the territory. Also, Israel has continued to prevent the transfer of the large majority of Gazans seeking medical aid, entry through Israeli territory in order to get the proper treatment they need.
Joe Biden has refused to call out Israel for denying 5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank access to the vaccine program that Biden proclaims to be so passionate about. This crime under international law, committed by the United State’s top ally, quite literally makes Israel the worst country on earth in terms of its Covid response. Because it has used ethno-religious supremacism in order to exclude Palestinians in the occupied territories and collectively punish them for who they are.
Then there are the Israeli police murders of Palestinians inside of Israel, as well a blatant refusal of the police to crackdown on crime in Palestinian areas. So far this year, Israeli police forces have murdered at least 8 Palestinians with Israeli citizenships, leading to mass protests in Haifa, Jaffa and Nazareth.
Another concerning trend, which has only escalated since Biden came to power, is the Israeli large scale arrest campaign in the West Bank. Since the announcement by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, that Presidential and legislative elections will be held later this year, Israel has cracked down on anyone and everyone who is politically active. The raids have reportedly intensified, specifically targeting members of Palestinian political parties vocal against the occupation.
Many Palestinians have accused Israel of attempting to interfere in the Palestinian democratic process, by arrested top officials from political parties such as Hamas. This being the case, Joe Biden should be addressing the issue, in an immediate attempt to prevent Israel from undermining the elections. But Biden’s administration has refused to criticise this.
The raids have been so intense that a 67 year old woman, Rahmeh Abu Ahour, suffered a heart attack and died, after Israeli forces brutally broke into her home during the early hours of the morning.
Israel’s settlement expansion has also continued, with no comment from the US. Israel has started the construction of the illegal segregated settler road project, known as the ‘Huwara bypass road’. The new settler road, on which Palestinians will not be permitted to drive, will run through Palestinian lands and enable the illegal settlers living nearby the ability to avoid having to drive on the same roads as those they are there to steal the land from.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, sent a message to the US urging them to convince Israel to halt its expansion of its E1 settlement project in East Jerusalem. Shtayyeh warned that this settlement expansion would disconnect Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley and Bethlehem, making a two-State solution even more impossible.
Joe Biden along with his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, have made it abundantly clear that they wish to see a two-State solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, yet they are currently helping Israel work towards the opposite.