on palestinian livelihood and land (and those who destroy both)

yesterday on al jazeera nour odeh reported on zaytoun olive oil, a fair trade palestinian olive oil company that is exported to the west. buying palestinian olive oil is an important way to buycott, meaning making conscious choices not to support major companies that support the zionist entity while also supporting palestinians here is her report:

i have a section of links to the right with various methods of buycott that you can learn about, including zaytoun olive oil.

odeh’s report mentions that last year over one million palestinian olive trees were uprooted, destroyed by israeli terrorists. sometimes the uprooting is malicious, and other times it is to steal more land to build jewish-only roads and colonies on palestinian land. one of the reasons for the increase of olive trees destroyed–an essential aspect of palestinian livelihood–is because illegal colony construction has increased as ha’aretz reports:

West Bank construction has been accelerating for several months, putting Israel on a collision course with a U.S. administration taking a hard line on settlement expansion.

A new outpost, new roads, and other building projects have raced ahead in and around the settlements, often without legal permits, producing the biggest construction drive since 2003, according to Dror Etkes of the Israeli advocacy group Yesh Din. That group monitors construction in the West Bank.

The construction, which has sped up even more since Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took office this spring, is to be a main issues in U.S. President Barack Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu at mid-month.

Vice President Joe Biden called on Israel on Tuesday to stop building in the settlements and to dismantle existing illegal outposts. However, left-wing groups monitoring events in the territories say the construction has accelerated in recent months, not halted.

Examples include the following:

Construction in outposts: Between Talmon and Nahliel, west of Ramallah, a stone house and another structure have been built without a permit, next to a vineyard set up by settlers a year and a half ago. The Israel Defense Forces’ civil administration has recently issued an order to stop the project.

Illegal construction has been carried out on Palestinian land at the outposts Mitzpeh Ahiya and Adei-Ad, north of Ramallah. A mobile home has been set in an outpost near Susia south of Hebron. An outpost that was vacated near Hebron has been reinstated.

Construction east of the separation fence: New houses have been built in the Eli settlement, Rechelim, Ma’aleh Michmash and Kochav Hashahar (north and east of Ramallah). In addition, a neighborhood has been built in Na’ale, and there are at least 10 houses in Halamish and new houses in Talmon (all west of Ramallah).

Construction west of the planned fence route: Land has been prepared for building in the Kedar settlement, and 30 houses have been built in Ma’aleh Shomron. There is also a new neighborhood in both the Elkana and Zofim settlements.

Road construction and farmland: This has gone on near the Bracha settlement south of Nablus, near Tapuach, in the Eli and Shiloh area and in the Amona and Elazar settlements.

The accelerated construction stems mainly from the reduced supervision of events in the territories in the last stages of the Olmert government, while Netanyahu’s right-wing government, part of which supports the construction, hasn’t begun to address the issue.

The settlers also took advantage of the public and media attention’s focus on Gaza during the IDF offensive in January to continue the settlements and outposts’ expansion in the territories.

Israel is officially committed to the promise made by former prime minister Ariel Sharon to the Bush administration to evacuate all illegal outposts built after March 2001. But evacuations have been carried out languidly and with long intervals.

and in al quds a secret report was just released and ha’aretz reported on it showing the ways in which colonists and the israeli terrorist government act as one body to steal land and ethnically cleanse palestinians from their land:

The government and settler organizations are working to surround the Old City of Jerusalem with nine national parks, pathways and sites, drastically altering the status quo in the city. The secret plan was assigned to the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA).

In a report presented to former prime minister Ehud Olmert on September 11 last year, the JDA described the purpose of the project as “to create a sequence of parks surrounding the Old City,” all in the aspiration “to strengthen Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

The program, sponsored by the Prime Minister’s Office and the mayor of Jerusalem, is secret and did not engage in any form of public discussion.

According to an analysis by Ir Amim, a non-profit organization dedicated to Jerusalem issues that impact on Israeli and Palestinians which exposed this detailed, confidential government plan, the motivation is to create Israeli hegemony over the area around the Old City, “inspired by extreme right-wing ideology.”

“This program integrates with statutory program 11555, approved by the Jerusalem municipality in November 2007, designed to accelerate development [to six housing units per dunam, or some 24 units per acre] in one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel. The array of escalators, cable cars and tunnels included in the plan portend blatant signs of a biblical playground populated by settler organizations,” which the organization says will be carried out by ousting Palestinian residents.

Ir Amim charges that by exposing the existence of the program the public is granted, “for the first time, a comprehensive view of how the government and settlers, working as one body, are creating a “biblical” territorial reign which connects Armon Hanatziv and Silwan in the south, Ras al-Amud and the Mount of Olives in the east, and Sheikh Jarra in the north, by connecting all of the land east of E-1.”

while these colonies go up at an alarming pace, palestinians in gaza cannot build homes because basic items like cement continue to be banned. but once again palestinians in gaza are proving how steadfast and resourceful they are by building houses with mud (zeina awad had an awesome bit on this on al jazeera the other day, but it looks like they are not going to post it on youtube). eva bartlett reported on this for electronic intifada:

Jihad al-Shaar is pleased with his mud-brick house in the Moraj district of Gaza. The 80-square meter home is a basic one-story, two-bedroom design, with a small kitchen, bathroom and sitting room, made mostly with mud and straw.

“My wife and our four daughters and I were living with family, but it was overcrowded, impossible. We knew we had to build a home of our own,” Shaar said. “We waited over two years for cement but because of the siege there is none available. What could we do, wait forever?”

So he decided to do it with mud.

Building earthen structures like bread ovens and small animal pens is a technique many Palestinians are familiar with, but extending the method to houses isn’t a notion that has taken hold in Gaza.

Jihad al-Shaar got the idea from his travels in Asia and the Middle East. “I traveled in Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Turkey … they all use some similar technique of building houses from earth. All you need is clay, sand and some straw.” These he mixed with water, and poured into brick moulds that were left in the sun to dry for three days. Good enough to build a fine house with.

While some Gaza residents speak of shame at the way life has “gone backwards” with the siege — using cooking oil in cars, wood fires for cooking, and horse and donkey carts for transportation — Shaar is proud of his clay home.

“In the winter it is warm, and in the summer it will be cool. There’s no problem with leaking, and this type of house will last a lifetime,” he says. “And it was cheap to build. A house this size made of cement would cost around $16,000 at least. This one, because it was made with simple, local materials cost just $3,000.”

Prior to Israel’s crippling siege on Gaza cement would have cost 20 shekels (about $5) a bag. Now, with cement among the many banned items, what does make it into Gaza through tunnels under the Egypt border costs ten times as much.

The $3,000 Shaar spent was mostly on support metal and on the flakes of straw used in the mud bricks as a strengthening agent. The metal bits, formerly just over 1,000 shekels a ton, are now quadrupled in price, which contribute to making an otherwise cheap building process still somewhat pricey.

Straw abounds, but due to the siege it is more often used as animal fodder, rendering it more precious and driving the price up. Clay and sand, found all over Gaza, must still be transported to the building site.

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