RAMALLAH, Wednesday, March 11, 2020 (WAFA) – Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), warned today that Israeli annexation pace of occupied Palestinian land is escalating and its state-sanctioned settler terrorism against defenseless Palestinian civilians is on the rise.
“As the international community seeks to cooperate in combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Israel is exploiting the situation to expedite de facto annexation of Palestinian land while providing protection and cover to armed Israeli settlers in their terror attacks against defenseless Palestinian communities across the occupied West Bank,” said Ashrawi in a press statement.
“As part of its escalating plans to enforce the notorious E1 settlement project, Israel has further announced the construction of a new apartheid road near the illegal settlement of ‘Maale Adumim,’ despite international warnings that this project will annex large areas around occupied Jerusalem and would destroy the territorial contiguity of Palestine,” she said.
Concurrently, added Ashrawi, “Israeli settlers have sharply increased their terrorist attacks throughout the occupied West Bank under the protection of Israeli occupation forces.”
She gave the example of Jabal (Mount) al-Orma, in the town of Beita in the north of the West Bank, where settlers-army cooperation to take over the mountain and attacking Palestinian residents of the area led today to the killing of a 15-year boy and injury of dozens others.
“Most recently, Israeli settlers have repeatedly raided Mount Al-Orma near Nablus in an attempt to take over the area with the active participation of the Israeli army. The Palestinians of Beita-Nablus have faced repeated assaults with courage and determination despite the great cost and suffering they have endured. The latest victim of this escalation is 15-year-old Mohammed Hamayel who was shot and killed by Israeli live fire. Additionally, scores of injuries and cases of suffocation were reported, caused by Israeli army and settler attacks.”
Furthermore, added the PLO official, “the closed-off Bethlehem area, which is the epicenter of Palestine’s COVID-19 outbreak and under strict measures of quarantine, has been targeted by Israeli settlers who uprooted at least 1,200 olive and vine trees as part of their ongoing environmental terrorism. At the same time, the Israeli army stepped up the expansion of the massive settlement bloc of ‘Gush Etzion’ to complete the siege and isolation of occupied Jerusalem.”
Ashrawi concluded her statement by saying that while the world is preoccupied with combating the dangerous spread of the lethal virus, “one must not ignore the toxic Israeli campaign seeking to destroy Palestinian statehood and the chances of peace.”