Ethnic cleansing “made in USA”

In the spring, when kings march out to war…” 

In 2 Samuel 11, we read of the annual cycle of war. In contemporary Israel, illegal Israeli settlers routinely rally for battle in the spring and the fall in their violent attacks on Palestinians. 

Spring and fall — when crops are sown and eventually harvested. 

Although a minority of Israelis, extremist settlers, who think of the Occupied Territories as their birthright, violently confront Palestinians on the way to and from their fields. Often they are accompanied by an Israeli army escort, which watches on as the settlers attack Palestinians without provocation, and do not intervene. Unlike Palestinians, those settlers are seldom arrested.

A Jewish settler pepper sprays in the face of a Palestinian protester during a protest against a High Court decision to evict eight Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, June 10, 2022. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/APA Images)

On September 12, 2022, my village of Atuwani in the Occupied West Bank was attacked by the Israeli Occupation forces — in response to allegations that my father had attacked an Israeli settler. 

Videos would later prove that settlers attacked my father on his own land and broke both of his arms with bats; after ten days, he was released from jail and the charge of attempted murder was dropped. In the meantime, the Israeli army engaged in vicious retaliation attacks against my family and my village.

When the smoke cleared, I stepped out of my house to find a tear gas canister on the ground. I picked it up, thinking about the small weapon that had sent my family, including my small children, scurrying into our home. Although it was not the first time I had seen such canisters up close, this time something caught my eye. Printed on its side: “Made in USA”.

The USA’s support for the Israeli occupation, from cash to teargas canisters, contribute to Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism against Palestinians. Israel, in violation of our basic human rights and in defiance of countless UN resolutions, seeks to forcibly evict us from our homes and our lands. 

Teargas is a weapon of intimidation, aimed indiscriminately at peaceful Palestinian protesters, shepherds, and children. 

It is also often followed by painful and disruptive sound grenades. Then the ultimate violator of human rights: the bulldozers, rolling in to raze a family’s home to the ground. 

By making and supplying such weapons, the USA is supporting Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing. These weapons — along with the sound grenades, M16 rifles, military jeeps, tanks, and bulldozers — terrorize us daily, in order to control and colonize lands that are rightfully ours.

Palestinian activists dispersed after a scuffle with Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers during a protest against a High Court decision to evict eight Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, June 10, 2022. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/APA Images)

Each year, the US gives Israel $3.8 billion from U.S. taxpayer money to perpetuate violence against Palestinians across the entirety of historic Palestine. 

But, according to the Campaign to Defund Racism, U.S. financial support is more than $3.8 billion a year — many more are also funneled through Israeli “charities” involved in some of the most heinous human rights abuses. For example, the US-based Central Fund of Israel (CFI) sends funds to Israeli organizations like Regavim, which seeks to forcibly displace Palestinians in the villages Khan al-Ahmar, Susiya, and now Masafer Yatta.

Khan al-Ahmar and Susiya are small Bedouin herding villages, frequently targeted by the Israeli military and armed settlers, who seek their destruction.

On May 16, 2022, human rights experts in the United Nations called on Israel to immediately cease the forced evictions in Masafer Yatta. Massafar Yatta’s citizens, including at least 500 children, face forced eviction and displacement from their homes. 

Regavim, which received more than half a million dollars from CFI in 2019, has successfully lobbied for the displacement of Khallet ad Dabe’, one of the small hamlets in Masafer Yatta. On September 29, its residents must prepare for forced displacement at any moment. 

U.S. stands alone in enabling ethnic cleansing

While the rest of the world rallies behind the eight communities in Masafer Yatta, the United States stands alone in its support for this violent plan of ethnic cleansing. 

US complicity through international aid, charitable donations, and US-made weapons violently displaces innocent families and wipe out entire cities. We Palestinians are not simply fighting Israeli colonial forces and apartheid laws — we are being crushed under the power of US money and weapons. 

American citizens should know where their taxes go and what they fund. When they see it supports injustice, they should work to stop it. Americans can disrupt the flow of taxes, charities, and weapons that are used against innocent Palestinians. If you’re unsure what you can do, The Campaign to Defund Racism is a good place to start. 

The community of Masafer Yatta, which is made up of twenty villages including my own Atuwani, is on the receiving end of U.S. support for apartheid and settler-colonial violence. We face, almost daily, settler attacks, violence at the hands of Israeli forces, home demolitions, tear gas, and theft of resources — land, water, roads. So we will continue our peaceful forms of protest.

But we ask our allies in the U.S. to speak out against our displacement and demand that their tax dollars be used for good rather than for supporting violence against us.

The author is grateful for the assistance of Kelly James Clark on this article.

Mohammad Huraini
Mohammad Huraini is a Palestinian resident of Masafer Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank.

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