At first glance, it may seem that the condition of the Palestinians who live in the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967 has changed little, despite the passing decades. Yesterday’s headlines are the same as today’s: confrontations, arrests, military rule, terror attacks, house demolitions, land confiscation. It’s easy to gain the impression that there is nothing new under the scorching sun of the Middle East.
However, closer scrutiny reveals new paths and markings on the familiar map. New headlines have been added throughout the years: Settlements and outposts. The Palestinian Authority. The Disengagement from Gaza. Prohibited roads. Walls and fences. Checkpoints and permits.
Israeli control of the Territories changes over time, assuming and abandoning new forms. After almost three decades of exclusive Israeli rule, the Palestinian Authority was established. A decade later, Hamas consolidated its control of the Gaza Strip. Yet for all these changes, Israeli rule over the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean remains the most influential force shaping the everyday lives of all those who live in this area. Israel’s power imposes a heavy responsibility.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) is publishing this document at the beginning of the 50th year of occupation. The paper outlines the changes that have transformed the Territories into a divided and dissected area. The different degrees and forms of Israeli control that apply in this area create systemic violation of the basic human rights of millions of people. Control without human rights – for 49 years.
The Fragmentation of the Territories
We tend to think of the “Territories” as a distinct area or entity. However, over the five decades since 1967, a dramatic process of division has occurred in the area, causing grave damage to Palestinian residents on the individual, community, and national levels:
East Jerusalem was annexed officially by Israel in June 1967, in violation of international law and without granting full rights to the residents of the city. The Israeli policy that developed isolated and devastated East Jerusalem, which had previously functioned as an economic, political, social, and religious power base.