During his visit to the site where Israeli settler Dvir Sorek was earlier this week found dead, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel's response to the alleged murder will be to build what the "terrorists" destroy and plant what they uproot.
"These vicious terrorists, they come to uproot – we come to plant. They come to destroy – we come to build," Netanyahu said. "Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all parts of it."
Without hesitation, Netanyahu assumed that the Israeli settler was murdered by Palestinians, calling them "vicious terrorists" who come to "uproot" and "destroy". Is Netanyahu right when he referred to Palestinians as "vicious terrorists" who come to destroy and uproot, while the Israeli occupation has come to build and plant?
Before visiting the site of Sorek's death, Netanyahu took part in a ceremony to lay a cornerstone for a new project to build 650 settlement units in the Israeli settlement of Beit El, in the occupied West Bank. He vowed to "secure our sovereignty over our historic homeland."
He also said during the ceremony: "We promised to build hundreds of housing units – today we are doing it, both because we promised and because our mission is to establish the nation of Israel in our country, to secure our sovereignty over our historic homeland."
Netanyahu is building and is promising to build more and more settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories. Beyond this, he is promising to annex these territories. Yes, he is building and establishing a nation, but on the ruins of unlimited number of Palestinian homes, mosques, cemeteries and the dreams of the Palestinians – owners of the territories who have been there for thousands of years.
If we go back several decades, we will see that Netanyahu's predecessors have built their state on the ruins of hundreds of Palestinian cities and village, as well as on the skulls and bones of hundreds of Palestinians who were massacred by Zionist paramilitary groups in 1948, which later became the core of the Israeli army.
Menachem Begin, who at that time headed one of these paramilitary organisations, the Irgun, later became Israeli prime minister and miraculously became a dove of peace by signing a peace treaty with Egypt.
In the past 15 years – during most of which Netanyahu was prime minister – the Israeli occupation has destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories and homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel. It has also destroyed scores of homes during major offensives in the Gaza Strip, as well as complete villages and residential quarters such as Khan Al-Ahmar, Al-Araqeeb and Wadi Al-Hummus.
According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, "from 2006 until 31 July 2019, Israel demolished at least 1,449 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank, causing 6,336 people – including at least 3,189 minors – to lose their homes." This number did not include East Jerusalem, where over 80 homes have been recently demolished and more than 500 Palestinians made homeless.
In addition, the same Israeli right group said that Israel demolished the homes of at least 1,048 Palestinians living in "unrecognised" villages in Israel between 2006 and 2019. However, these villages were established before the creation of Israel.
B'Tselem also said that the Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank demolished 733 non-residential structures such as fences, cisterns, roads, storerooms, farming buildings, businesses and public buildings during the same period.
Regarding uprooting and planting, Israel has uprooted over a million Palestinians trees since 1967. According to a report by B'Tselem, Israeli settlers' vandalism, "fully backed" by the Israeli authorities, led to the uprooting of thousands of trees. "In just over two months, from the beginning of May to 7 July 2018, B'Tselem documented ten instances in which settlers destroyed a total of more than 2,000 trees and grapevines and burned down a barley field and bales of hay."
B'Tselem argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area's natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians of some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of land in the occupied Palestinian territories over the years.
In light of these facts and figures, Netanyahu is requested to clarify how he builds and plants when Palestinian "terrorists" destroy and uproot. Everything which is being built and planted by Netanyahu is based on racism and racial discrimination.
Netanyahu believes that only Israeli settlers are entitled to build, plant and live in the land of Palestine, whether the parts occupied in 1948 or the parts occupied in 1967. Demolishing homes and uprooting farms belonging to the Palestinians is therefore simply part of the process of building the state of Israel.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.