Taking their “normalization” to the next level, Israel has reportedly “bought an island” in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, drawing outrage from social media users.
Arabic-language news websites said TV7 Israel News reported that Israeli company Himnota, which is owned by the ultra-right Jewish National Fund (JNF), bought a private island with an area of 9,554 square meters for $21.5 million in an auction.
The TV channel claimed that the island is residential and suitable for investment projects of special nature, quoting a source within Himnota as saying that skyscrapers can be founded on the island and can be used for evacuating Israelis in the event of war.
According to the report, Avery Shnayer, representative of the Blue and White party on the board of directors of Himnota, said talks will be held with the “friendly” Bahraini regime to transfer sovereignty over the island to Israel.
Although the TV7 Israel News report was immediately deleted without clarification, it sparked anger and outrage among Bahraini activists and social media users who expressed concern that the sale is a prelude 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 said in a tweet.
Jawad Fairooz, a former Bahraini lawmaker and the head of SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights (SALAM DHR), described the report as ” a very dangerous and worrying signal.”
The news about the sale of the island came a day after Israeli military chief Herzi Halevi landed in Bahrain to participate in an international military conference involving several regional leaders, according to the Israeli media.
The conference was held under the auspices of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), with the head of the CENTCOM, Erik Kurilla also in attendance.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed US-brokered normalization agreements with the Israeli regime in Washington in September 2020.
The move sparked widespread condemnation from various Palestinian resistance factions and ordinary civilians as well as Muslim nations and human rights advocates across the globe
Bahrainis have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the so-called “normalization” of ties with the Israeli regime, taking to the streets often to hold demonstrations against the ruling dispensation in Manama.
Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq and top cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who is currently living in exile in Iran, have also repeatedly condemned the “normalization” move made by the ruling al-Khalifah dynasty.
The tiny Arab country has been rocked by anti-regime protests since 2011 with people demanding the ouster of the ruling family and the establishment of a democratic political system.