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The Land Grab Continues in West Bank

Mohamed, 13, runs with the Palestinian flag on a beach near the former Israeli settlement of Neve Dekalim, 12 September 2005. Mohamed said this was the first time he had been to the beach since he was born. Thousands of residents of the Southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis came to the coast which is just some 3 km (2 miles) away. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

From Ya’acov Mano, Gush Shalom

Request for letter campaign
Repression of Human Rights and Land Grab at the Village of Bil’in

The State of Israel is erecting the Separation Wall on Palestinian land out of “security considerations,” while the true objective is to annex land west of the Wall into Israel.

This provocative act is being conducted against the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, as well as the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations which accepted the ruling of the Court. This act is being carried out with all the oppressive and violent means at the disposal of the occupying forces – through shooting and killing, serious injury, beating and threats, closures and curfews, and fear and intimidation tactics.

This aggression is currently faced by a growing non-violent opposition to this land grab and denial of Palestinians’ human rights to exist and live freely on their native land.

Israeli and international activists for peace and human rights are expressing their opposition to this act through joint demonstrations and protest campaigns.

Up until now the State of Israel has built 180 Km of the planned 620 km of the Separation Wall, appropriating tens of thousands of acres of private land, uprooting tens of thousands of olive and fruit trees, and destroying the entire fabric of life of hundreds of thousands of people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The village of Bil’in is a small and peaceful village near Ramallah, whose 1,700 residents gain their livelihood through agriculture and occasional external employment. The Separation Wall is appropriating 50% of the village lands and about 70% of its cultivated area.

The real objective of the Wall’s route in this area, as in others, is the expansion of the massive settlement of Upper Modi’in illit. This settlement has already 35,000 residents, and according to the plans of the Ministry of Housing, will number, in 2020 150,000 people. The expansion of Modi’in Illit is being done at the expense of the seized lands of Bil’in and neighboring villages.

Now, with the world congratulating the Israeli Government on its implementation of the Disengagement Plan and the withdrawal of 7,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip, thousands of housing units continue to be built for new settlers in the West Bank, 3,000 of which are on Bil’in’s lands.

While the army now uses force to prevent the right to demonstrate, we invite everyone to protest against this oppression and against the denial of life and basic human rights of the Palestinian people in general, and of the village of Bil’in in particular.

Please pass on this call for action from the hearts of all freedom-lovers to all your friends, to the Government of Israel,to the Israeli Representatives in your country, to your own governments, to your Members of Congress and Members of Parliament, resound the cry of those who are being silenced. Help us put halt the repression of non-violent popular protest in this struggle to stop the building of the Separation Wall of Hate in Bil’in.

With your help Bil’in will not fall!

Sample letter:

Dear Sir,

Re: The Separation Barrier in the West Bank

More than a year ago, the International Court at The Hague ruled that the construction of the separation barrier on Palestinian lands is in violation of International Law. Later, this ruling was adopted by the UN general assembly. Despite all this, Israel continues to build the separation barrier on Palestinian lands. Reports in the media indicate that under the guise of security, the barrier’s route is annexing about ten percent of the West Bank into Israel, thus frustrating any prospects for a viable Palestinian state and for the end of the conflict in the region.

Undeniably, Israel has the right to defend its citizens against terror. However, this does not allow it to grab Palestinian land and to destroy the basic fabric of life in many villages and towns in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The route of the barrier invades deep into the West Bank in an attempt to encircle almost every settlement possible. Palestinian villages and towns are caught in small enclaves.

Recently, the small village Bil’in has reached the headlines when essentially non-violent demonstrations there were brutally suppressed by Israeli security forces. Palestinians, Israelis and protestors from other countries faced the same reaction from the army: tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and physical violence.

In Bil’in, the barrier confiscates half of the lands of the village, depriving its residents of their livelihood and future. At the same time, the nearby settlement Modi’in Illit continues to expand eastward, on the lands left west of the route.

Ironically, the same barrier devised to bring security is already the cause of clashes, disquiet and violence. If the construction of the barrier continues, the long-term consequences are likely to be more violence and bloodshed.

There are compelling legal, humanitarian and security reasons to challenge the barrier’s current route. There is clear international interest in securing stability and peace in the Middle East. The barrier will clearly achieve the opposite.

I therefore call upon you do whatever you can to stop the construction of the barrier in its present route and to bring about the dismantling of the parts of the barrier already built on Palestinian lands.

Send protest letters to:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Fax: 02-6513955
e.mail: pm_eng@it.gov.il

Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres
fax: 03-6954156
e.mail: s_peres@netvision.net.il

Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom
fax: 02-5303704
e.mail: sar@mofa.gov.il

Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz
fax: 03-6976218
e.mail: sar@mod.gov.il

Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni
fax: 02-6287757
e.mail: sar@justice.gov.il

Minister of Internal Security Gideon Ezra
fax: 02-5811551
e.mail: sar@mops.gov.il

Minister of Construction and Housing, Isaac Herzog
fax: 02-5847688
e.mail: sar@moch.gov.il