The image above is a TripAdvisor listing of a heritage site managed by settlers in the village of Susiya - on Palestinian land. The UN has released a list of over 100 other companies that also have business interests in Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
But why is this a problem?
In 1967, Israel began the process of building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.
Firstly, what is a settlement?
It is Israel’s building of villages, towns and cities on occupied Palestinian territory.
What makes them illegal?
The transfer of Israeli civilians to these settlements is illegal under international law. In fact it is a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Hundreds of thousands Displaced
Since 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had to flee their homes to escape violence or were forcibly removed. Not just their they lost their land and businesses too. Many are remain in refugee camps till this day. Here they have become parents and even grand parents.
Some Palestinians stayed behind and refused to give up their land. Their lives have been made impossible as consecutive governments have introduced discriminatory laws and policies, in the hope they will eventually leave. But as the settlements continue to expand some are still standing their ground.
What TripAdvisor doesn't show you
(A resident of Susiya shows us a water system installed on his land for the sole benefite of the nearby settlement)
The Palestinian village of Susiya, in the occupied West Bank is home to around 300 Palestinians. The village has a few tents and shacks, a couple of water cisterns and some sheep. There is no access to electricity or running water.
Even though there is a state-of-the-art water system built on their land, they aren’t allowed to use it – it’s exclusively for the Israeli settlements just across the road. All settlements are protected by sophisticated security systems designed to keep Palestinians away. The villagers have to make do with collecting rainwater in tanks. The Israeli authorities fully control this part of Palestinian territory. Its residents live under the constant threat of their homes being demolished and are banned from building new structures.
Next to Susiya is an archaeological site, where 1,000 illegal settlers live and manage it as a tourist destination. Palestinians used to live there, until their houses were destroyed in 1982.
While Israel refuses to connect the Palestinian village to electricity, sewage and water, the illegal settlement thrives on Palestinian land.
Profiting from human suffering
The archaeological site is listed as a tourist attraction on TripAdvisor, without warning visitors that it is managed by settlers and illegally located on Palestinian land.
The visitors to the site make a financial contribution to the neighbouring settlement that manages the ruins. A visitor centre serves as a showcase for produce and goods that are grown or manufactured by settlers from the surrounding area – including wine, herbs, olive oil and handicrafts.
TripAdvisor is therefore both benefiting and contributing to the settlement economy and helping maintain an illegal situation.
According to the UN any companies engaged in settlement activities are profiting from and contributing to systemic human rights violations against Palestinians.
And it’s not just TripAdvisor.
UN publishes database of companies
On the 12 February, the United Nations released a list of businesses involved in the illegal Israeli settlements. TripAdvisor, alongside Airbnb, Expedia, Booking.com, JCB, Opodo and Greenkote are included in this list.
The publication of the database is a great step towards justice and accountability for those affected by corporate involvement in human rights violations, such as the people of Susiya.
You can write to or tweet these companies to immediately end their complicity with the illegal settlement enterprise, which amounts to war crimes.
What we’re doing about it
In addition to holding Trip Advisor to account, we’re calling on the UK Government to prohibit the involvement of three British companies in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It’s finally time for JCB, Opodo and Greenkote to stop profiting from crimes against the Palestinian people