The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Israel Expands Land Seizures in West Bank

Mar 25, 2024

On March 22, Israel announced that it would seize about four square miles of Palestinian land in the West Bank. This is the single largest seizure of Palestinian land since 1993 and would effectively divide the Palestinians in the West Bank between north and south.

About 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. They already live under an apartheid-style military occupation. Ever since it took the territory in 1967, Israel has refused to recognize Palestinian claims to the land they and their families have lived on, often for generations, opening it up piece-by-piece to be taken by Israeli settlers. Already before October 7, about 700,000 Israeli settlers had seized 40% of the land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The result is that Palestinian lands are carved up into little pieces, divided up by territory controlled by Israelis. There are Israeli-only highways, modern and well maintained, next to falling-apart roads open to the Palestinians. Clean, filtered water is piped to the Israeli settlements, but the Palestinians cannot access it. To pass from one part of the territory to another, Palestinians have to pass through innumerable military checkpoints—if they are allowed through at all. To build a home or build onto their homes, Palestinians need permits from the Israeli authorities—which are basically impossible to get—and many Palestinian homes have been bulldozed by the Israeli authorities.

Since the October 7 attacks by Hamas, the Israeli settlers have dramatically stepped up their attacks and attempts to grab land. These settlers have built dozens of illegal outposts on land owned by Palestinians, and then attacked the residents to drive them off. The U.N. has recorded 650 such attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians since October 7, killing at least nine people. In one case, a settler is accused of using his own bulldozer to destroy the school for a Palestinian village. In another, Israelis seem to have dropped poison from a drone into a Palestinian swimming pool.

The army occupying the West Bank is now largely composed of settlers themselves, called up into the reserves, as the regular conscripts have been sent to fight in Gaza. It has backed these increasingly outrageous attacks by settlers every step of the way. Israeli security forces have themselves killed about 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since October 7.

Many of the right-wing Israeli settlers are in fact Jewish religious fundamentalists, who justify their claims to the land by referencing the bible. This includes the Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is himself a prominent settler. He represents a Zionist-religious party that claims Israel has a “right” to the entire West Bank, which they call “Judea and Samaria,” a reference to kingdoms from biblical times, 3,000 years ago. These right-wing Zionist religious fundamentalists have increasingly become the political base for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, especially as his government carries out its murderous war in Gaza.

The U.S. has condemned the most violent attacks and has even sanctioned a few of the most violent individual settlers. But it has done nothing to actually rein in the Israeli policy of stealing land from those who have lived there for generations—ever since it supported the founding of Israel in 1948 by a similar process of land theft.