With Israel announcing the purchase of an island from Bahrain last week, it is now time for Arab states to question the very intention behind Israel’s so-called normalization efforts.
According to a report from TV7 Israel News last week, Israel “bought an island” from Bahrain in line with its efforts to normalize relations with Arab states.
As the report noted, Israeli firm Himnota, a company owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), acquired the private island for $21.5 million in an auction. Himnota is an Israeli private company which is widely known for illegally registering itself as the land owner of Palestinian territories.
Human rights advocates believe that the firm has also been used by Israel for obfuscating Israel’s war crimes during the past four decades.
The island, which is about to be a territory of Israel within a few months and after some paper works, measures 9,554 square meters. It is said in the report that the Island will be used for investment projects, but it literary means a new place outside Israel to move Israelis there in the near future.
According to Avery Shnayer, the board of directors of the company, talks will be held with the “friendly” Bahraini government to transfer sovereignty over the island to Israel and “it will be done by May”.
Good to mention that the news was removed from the TV7 Israel News website less than one hour after it was broadcasted. However, several social media users could screenshot the report before it was erased and reacted to the content with harsh words.
Activists and lawmakers lashed out at the land sale
The report particularly sparked anger and outrage among Bahraini activists and social media users in this Arab country. They expressed concern that the sale of parts of Bahrain is an act of colonialization and could very well be the first step to the occupation of another Arab territory.
“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,” Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja wrote in a tweet.
Jawad Fairooz, a former Bahraini lawmaker and the head of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR), also reacted to the report and described it as ” a very dangerous and worrying signal.”
Likewise, Bahraini political activist Ebrahim Sharif, rebuked the move and warned that “the process of Judaizing and Zionizing” Bahrain has already begun.
A pre-planned colonial project against Bahrain
Many political experts in and out of Bahrain link the controversial sale of the Island to Israeli military chief Herzi Halvei’s unannounced visit to Bahrain some two weeks ago when he arrived to Manama to attend a conference held under the auspices of US Central Command (CENTCOM). Halevy’s presence in Bahrain only became public after photos of his subsequent meeting with Bahraini Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa went viral.
In describing the atmosphere among the Bahraini officials about normalizing ties with Israel, the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, wrote this Monday that “Bahraini officials are proud of their relationship with Israel and not particularly concerned about the latest uptick in tensions in the West Bank.”
Since last year, Israel has been focusing on Bahrain to name it the latest Arab country who joined the Abraham Accords. Back in December 2022, Israeli President Isaac Herzog traveled to Bahrain to meet with the country’s king and foreign minister. It was the first visit by an Israeli president to the island kingdom. Herzog received a warm welcome from Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the king of Bahrain.
The people of Bahrain, however, strongly rebuked the travel and protested in mass numbers in the Manama airport where Herzog’s airplane landed. They chanted “death to Israel”, with some carrying signs with Herzog’s image that said “criminal” and “you are not welcome in Bahrain.”
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