2023 is on pace to set the record for Israeli administrative home demolitions. Since the beginning of the year, Israel has demolished 289 Palestinian structures, displacing over 400 people, nearly half of whom are children. At the current rate, Israel will destroy almost 1,200 Palestinian homes and facilities by the end of the year. Since 2017, home demolitions have been steadily increasing every year. In 2017 there were 422 demolitions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, followed by 463 in 2018, 632 in 2019, 857 in 2020, 911 in 2021, and 952 in 2022. This rise in demolitions correlates with the sharp increase of right-wing charitable formations funneling money into Israeli organizations like Regavim, Ir David, and Ateret Cohanim.
Impact on Palestinian Lives
The material conditions on the ground reflect the new inroads that the Israeli settler movement has made in the centers of power. This is illustrated not only with the rise in demolitions, killings, and the incarceration of Palestinians, but through absurd power grabs — such as Prime Minister Netanyahu gifting ultra-radical settler MK Itamar Ben Gvir his own personal militia. It is clear that the trajectory of Israeli politics is its consolidation into a religious theocracy.
As the trend of violence and indigenous dispossession continue, the international solidarity movement needs to usher in a new liberatory praxis and utilize tactics that take aim at the structures of violence through policy change and legal reform. Contrary to popular belief, perpetual webinars and book readings will not lead to a future of Palestinian emancipation. No matter how well attended, these social events are not an end in themselves. International solidarity groups have to link their activities to winnable, impactful campaigns. The future of Palestine depends on it.
This week, Regavim, an openly racist Israeli settler organization specializing in legal campaigns to lobby for Palestinian displacement, celebrated their most recent victory: a new demolition order for the Jubbet al-Dhib school in eastern Bethlehem.
The Jubbet al-Dhib has long been a target of the zionist movement, destroyed in 2017, and its solar panels were previously confiscated by Israeli forces. For the last five years, they’ve exhausted resources to keep the school serving their embattled community.
“After a 5-year legal battle, we won a major judgment in the Jerusalem District Court in our petition against the Palestinian Authority’s illegal school in the Herodion National Park,” said Regavim’s Social Media Coordinator, Sam Whitefield. “The decision orders the illegal structure to be sealed off immediately, and demolished within 60 days.”
[Jubbet al-Dhib is not located in the Herodion National Park, but due west several kilometers.]
With millions of dollars funneled through U.S., Canadian, and U.K. charitable foundations, Regavims deploys field workers to surveil and document Palestinian construction and employs lawyers and lobbyists to build pressure in the Knesset to facilitate the erasure of the indigenous Palestinian population. This is manifested in acts such as home demolitions, land confiscations, and new laws that strip the original inhabitants of Palestine of their lands and fundamental rights. Regavim was a major advocate of the Nation-State law and is one of the leading voices calling for dismantling the Israeli court system in favor of one replaced by the radical settler movement.
Regavim is one piece of a larger consortium that, against charitable regulations, has either set up ghost charities or partnered with suspect institutions to fund the colonization of Palestine.
A broad base of Palestinian organizations and civic activists have called for the international solidarity movement to develop and execute their own localized campaigns to stop the financing of these settler organizations. You can find more about this Palestinian call-to-action at https://defundracism.org.