Israel has reportedly “bought an island” from Bahrain, prompting criticism from activists opposed to the on-going normalisation between the two countries.
News of the purchase was initially announced by TV7 Israel News, before being removed after it was broadcasted, according to Al-Mayadeen. However, several social media users managed to screenshot the report before it was erased.
According to the report, Israeli firm Himnota, which is owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a “charitable” organisation that has long been used by the apartheid state for expropriating Palestinian lands and obfuscating Israel’s war crimes, acquired the private island for $21.5 million in an auction.
The island, which measures 9,554 square metres, will be used for investment projects and could be used to evacuate Israelis in case of the outbreak of war. Avery Shnayer, who is on the board of directors of the company, said talks will be held with the “friendly” Bahraini government to transfer sovereignty over the island to Israel.
Human rights activist Maryam AlKhawaja was among those Bahrainis who spoke out against the development. “Reports emerging (posted by Israeli news then deleted) that Israel has bought an island in Bahrain – best described as colonial expansion – from a foreign ruling family that occupied Bahrain violently and has been ruling it violently since,” she said, quote-tweeting Bahraini political activist Ebrahim Sharif, who questioned whether “the process of Judaizing and Zionizing” the tiny Gulf state has already begun.
Reports emerging (posted by Israeli news then deleted) that Israel has bought an island in #Bahrain – best described as colonial expansion – from a foreign ruling family that occupied Bahrain violently and has been ruling it violently since#Palestine https://t.co/FmvcuJWwjH
— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) February 12, 2023
Jawad Fairooz, a former Bahraini lawmaker and the head of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR), meanwhile described the purchase as “a very dangerous and worrying signal.”
The report of the island purchase, followed Israeli military chief Herzi Halvei’s unannounced visit to Bahrain to attend a conference held under the auspices of US Central Command (CENTCOM), with the head of CENTCOM, Erik Kurilla, also in attendance.
Manama’s normalisation with Israel has proven to be widely unpopular by Bahrain’s citizens who have routinely held rallies against the 2020 decision as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords. Yesterday marked the 11th anniversary of Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising, which was brutally crushed by state security forces with the assistance of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.