Nov 13, 2009

Red Cross Aiding Palestinian Land Grab?

Aaron KleinBy Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – The International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, this week helped Palestinians in what Jewish activists here are calling a provocative strategic land grab in the northern West Bank.

A group of about 50 Arabs accompanied by three Red Cross Jeeps on Sunday arrived at a 3-acre plot of land just outside the West Bank Jewish community of Kfar Tapuach. The large group brought an agricultural tractor and other farming equipment and attempted to clear the land, which until then largely had been unattended.

The land is located alongside a junction that leads to Kfar Tapuach. Jewish residents of the community drive by the plot of land throughout the day. Any change in status quo of the land could have security implications for the Tapuach community.

A short time after the group arrived at the land parcel, a local commander of the Israel Defense Forces was dispatched to the scene. He asked the group to depart unless they provided documentation proving they owned the land or had permission to work the area.

An ICRC worker told the commander the group would return the next day with proper documentation, witnesses said. The group has not yet returned.

Asked about the incident, the ICRC has changed its story multiple times.

At first, a spokeswoman for the group told Israel National News its vehicles could not have participated in the alleged land grab, but upon being shown pictures of Red Cross Jeeps at the scene, she admitted the ICRC is, in fact, helping the Arabs in question "rehabilitate" the plot of land near Tapuach.

She said such projects are carried out with the IDF's consent, but that this time there was a "mis-coordination."

Separately, the ICRC spokeswoman claimed to WND the "land rehabilitation project" was fully coordinated with the IDF.

However, the IDF provided a statement to WND yesterday that conflicts with the ICRC claims:

"Representatives from the Red Cross, together with a number of Palestinians, requested permission from the Civil Administration to plant trees in an agricultural area next to the Jewish community of Tapuach.

"Without having yet received the proper permission, the Palestinians and members of the Red Cross arrived and began to work in the area. IDF soldiers arrived at the scene in order to disperse the crowd, which they did without incident," read the statement.
David Haivri, spokesman for the Shomron Jewish Regional Council in the West Bank, surmised the ICRC was attempting to stage a provocation.
"There are plenty of other lands they could have attended to. They picked an obvious place in front of our community where Jewish residents drive by," he told WND.

"Also, if the ICRC did this more quietly and with fewer people, perhaps no one would have noticed. The fact that they brought so many people seems more like a provocation than any attempt to rehabilitate land," said Haivri, a 20-year resident of Tapuach.
Red Cross Bias?

But officials here have long accused the ICRC of anti-Israel bias. The organization for nearly 60 years refused membership to Israel purportedly because the Jewish state wanted to use its own emblem – a star of David – instead of the traditional cross. Israel finally was admitted this past June after intensive lobbying efforts by the American Red Cross.

The ICRC treated Hezbollah militants on the battlefield during confrontations with Israel that ended last month.

Some Israeli military officials accused Red Cross ambulances of helping transport some Hezbollah fighters.
"The moment a Hezbollah fighter is injured, he is considered a noncombatant, so we must take care of him," said ICRC spokeswoman Carla Haddad.
During a major Israeli anti-terror raid in the northern Samaria city of Jenin in 2002, the ICRC along with the Palestinian Authority and the U.N. accused the Jewish state of attacking civilians and denying medical treatment for injured Palestinians for six days. The charges later were disproved.

The Palestinian Authority claimed 500 civilians were "massacred" in the Jenin battle but it was later determined 42 people, mostly combatants, were killed. The Israeli military lost 23 soldiers in the operation.

Related Links

Red Cross involved in attempted Arab land grab - Jewish Tribune
Red Cross Involved in Attempted Arab Land-Grab - Arutz Sheva
Extraordinary US-Israel-Egyptian-Jordanian intelligence summit held in early November - DEBKAfile
Sarkozy Leads Charge in Reinvigorating Stalled Mideast Peace Talks - Voice of America
The Late Great State of Israel: How Enemies Within and Without Threaten the Jewish Nation's Survival - Aaron Klein (Book)