Monday, December 31, 2007

B'Tselem Report Bashes Israel, Notes Jewish Growth in Yesha

Hillel Fendel

B'Tselem, the extreme-left Israeli civil rights organization, has published its annual report condemning Israel for various offenses against the suspected Arab terrorists of Judea and Samaria. Though it concentrates on Israel's apparent misdeeds, it also notes that the growth of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria was three times higher than in the rest of Israel. The report's opening blurb sums up by noting that though the number of Israelis and Arabs killed in "clashes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" has decreased, "there has been a deterioration in many other measures of the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories."

The description of the perpetual Arab terrorism against Israelis, and the Israelis' counter-terror military responses, as mere "clashes" sums up, for many Israelis, the report's anti-Israeli bias.

In addition, the "List of Topics" covered by the report includes administrative punishment, restrictions on movement, separation barrier, and 13 others describing Israeli misdeeds - while only one topic deals with "Palestinian violations."

Among the report's findings:

* In 2007, the number of PA Arabs held in administrative detention without trial increased by 13%.
* On average, 66 staffed checkpoints and 459 physical roadblocks controlled travel inside Judea and Samaria.
* The number of houses demolished in eastern Jerusalem rose by 38%, from 50 to 69. The report does not note that thousands of Arab homes in the eastern Jerusalem vicinity have been estimated to been built illegally.
* The instances of Arabs killing Arabs have increased to their highest level in many years.

B'Tselem further notes that Israel uses "security justifications for virtually every Israeli action in the Occupied Territories . There is no doubt that Israel faces serious security threats, and is entitled and even obligated to do its utmost to protect its population. However," B'Teslem continues blandly, "far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control."

"In addition," the report notes, "Israeli authorities often exploit security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel." In actuality, however, the Israeli government has decreed a freeze on new construction throughout Judea and Samaria.

Despite this, and despite the looming threat over the future of Jewish towns in these areas, demand for housing there continues to be strong - and this is reflected in rising real estate prices. The daily Yediot Acharonot reports that a five-room apartment in Ariel is now going for $145,000, up $20,000 from last year, while in Maaleh Adumim a similar unit has risen from $215,000 to $240,000. Similar increases have been registered in many other Yesha towns.

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