Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel poisoned Palestinian land, reveal newly-released state documents 

June 27, 2023 at 2:26 pm

Right-wing Jewish settlers level the ground for an encampment where they hope to build the first Jewish settlement on 8 December, 1975 at the Sebastia railway station in the northern West Bank [Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images]

Israel poisoned Palestinian land in order to build West Bank settlements in the 1970s, documents released from the state archives have revealed. Details of the poisoning reported in Haaretz expose the cruel lengths to which Israel has gone to dispossess Palestinians from their land. The release of files from the Israel State Archives has granted public access to over a million documents, revealing some of the most horrific practices of the Zionist state.

Each step in the establishment of a West Bank settlement is catalogued in the newly released documents. The first step, according to the Haaretz report, was to dispossess residents of the nearby Palestinian village of their land under the false pretext of making it a military training zone. When the Palestinians insisted on cultivating the land, Israeli soldiers sabotaged their tools. Soldiers were later ordered to use their vehicles to destroy the crops. A radical solution was employed when this failed: a crop duster was used to spread a toxic chemical on the land. The substance was lethal for animals and dangerous for humans.

Details released by the state archives uncovers Israel’s takeover and colonisation of the Palestinian village of Aqraba, for example, about three miles from Huwara in the northern West Bank. Huwara has come under attack recently by Israeli settlers. As was the case in Huwara, the Israeli state and illegal settlers worked hand in hand. The poisoning of the crops around Aqraba in 1972 was not a vigilante act; it involved various state agencies.

WATCH: Details of massacres against Palestinians revealed in classified Israeli documents

The poisoning of Palestinian land took place under Prime Minister Golda Meir, who is often depicted as a left-wing leader unlike far-right figures like Benjamin Netanyahu, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. The archive materials show that when it comes to taking over Palestinian land and the dispossession of the indigenous community, there is very little separating Israeli politicians, no matter which end of the political spectrum they stand on. Meir was also Prime Minister when, under the cover of a “national park”, Israel annexed Muslim and Christian sites.

The full details of the poisoning have been uncovered 51 years later thanks to a new project by the Taub Centre for Israel Studies at New York University. The project is said to map and catalogue all available historical data dealing with Israeli settlements. For the first time, thousands of sealed files from the Israel State Archives and other libraries have been opened for public inspection; they shed light on one of the most significant movements in Israeli history.

All of Israel’s settlements, and the settlers who live in them, are illegal under international law.

Last week, newly-released transcripts in the Israel State Archive exposed efforts by Zionist militias to recruit the help of Nazi Germany in the fight against the British Mandate authorities in Palestine.