Middle East Monitor / September 1, 2023
Israel has summoned the Belgian ambassador for dressing down after a minster said that “entire [Palestinian] villages are being wiped off the map by the Israelis.” A letter of protest has also been sent to the Belgium Foreign Ministry claiming that the remarks are “libellous and defamatory.”
The comments were made by Belgium’s Minister for International Development, Caroline Gennez. Speaking to the Flemish daily De Morgen, Gennez said: ‘In the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, the situation is becoming unsustainable. Entire villages are being wiped off the map by the Israelis. The periods of escalating violence are shorter than before, but more frequent and more intense.’
Israel’s Ambassador to Belgium, Idit Rosenzweig Abu, called the accusations “false and slanderous,” while the Belgian Ambassador to Israel, Jean-Luc Bodson, was summoned for reprimand.
Gennez’s remark was a response to the escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians, especially by illegal extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank. The demolition of Palestinian homes and expulsion of residents by armed settlers has parallels with the Nakba when, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by armed Zionist paramilitary groups.
Photojournalist Oren Ziv documented Israel’s cleansing of vast West Bank region of nearly all Palestinians, a report for +972 Magazine showed yesterday. Ziv found that large areas between Ramallah and Jericho have been emptied of nearly all Palestinian residents due to intensifying violence and land seizures by Jewish settlers, backed by the occupation forces and government.
More than ten illegal settler outposts have been established in the occupied West Bank in recent years. Aggressive settlers are said to be using shepherding as a pretext to take over Palestinian agricultural lands and force communities out. Several small Palestinian villages have already been expelled, with only a few remaining.
Echoing countless human rights groups, Ziv found that settler attacks and harassment against Palestinian residents have severely escalated, terrorizing families. Palestinians have reported armed settlers breaking into homes, attacking livestock, threatening children and destroying property. Israeli occupation authorities have provided no protection despite numerous complaints.
Since the inauguration of Israel’s new far-right government in late 2022, settler takeovers of land and violence against Palestinians have noticeably increased across the West Bank. Palestinian residents describe living in constant fear and being forced to flee for their lives.
Israeli state institutions, including the military, police and Civil Administration, are enabling settler expansionism. Roads have been blocked, homes demolished and lands confiscated from Palestinians to allow settler takeovers.