FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As a result of the village of Bil’in’s ongoing campaign of non-violent direct action and protest, an unprecedented action was taken today by the Civil Administration in regards to the illegal settlement outpost of Matityahu Mizrah, which is being built on Bil’in’s land. The Civil Administration issued a stop work order, thus sending away the construction workers at the outpost, a rare act by the Civil Administration in regards to settlement construction. Despite this, the illegal work is still being allowed to continue on buildings where tenants have already moved in.
This unusual event follows an investigatory report in Israeli daily “Haaretz,” written recently by Akiva Eldar, The Real Organized Crime, and Documents reveal illegal West Bank building project.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. However, the article exposes that the Israeli Civil Administration has done nothing to stop or restrain the settlement of Mod’iin Illit’s continuing construction and expansion, despite admitting that even by Israeli standards, illegal construction has been taking place on a massive scale.
The article also shows how the Civil Administration serves as a tool for laundering land taken illegally from it’s Palestinian owners, mainly by announcing it to be state land and then transferring it to private hands. Specifically in the case Of Bil’in, attorney Moshe Glick, who is known to be involved with other similar real estate scandals, signed in the stead of the Bil’in village Muhktar, testifying that the land belonging to a resident of Bil’in was paid for by the settlers.
Mr. Glick justified signing in the stead of the Muhktar because “any Jew entering Bil’in will be killed” and because he claimed there was a military order forbidding Israelis from entering Area “B”. Both statements are, of course, totally false, seeing how Israelis legally and safely visit Bil’in (located in Area B) every day. Clearly, there is no way that Mr. Glick could know to whom the land that his clients were interested in belongs, having never been to Bil’in. Yet the Civil Administration has claimed that the supposed land sale was legitimate.
The villagers of Bil’in have been protesting the theft of their land by the annexation barrier, which allows for the expansion of the Mod’iin Illit settlement, and for the last ten months the protests there have become a symbol for the Palestinian non-violent resistance and joint struggle with Israeli and international activists. The route of the wall runs meters from the last houses of Bil’in and thousands of meters away from the last houses in the expanding illegal settlement, thus allowing for further settlement expansion.
In a recent non violent direct action, the people of Bil’in built a Palestinian outpost on their own land across from the settlement, and on the Israeli side of the annexation barrier. The Israeli authorities responded by forcefully removing two caravans and immediately issuing a stop work order for the latest structure that the Palestinians erected. The Palestinian ‘outpost’ has since been under 24 hour surveillance by the Israeli Military in order to insure that no further building takes place. The contrast between the quick concrete action taken to stop Bil’in villagers from building on their own land, with the lack of action taken against the quickly expanding settlement has put the Israeli civil administration in an embarrassing position.
This is a clear example of how the non-violent actions of the villagers and their many supporters have finally forced the Israeli Authorities to take concrete action and curb its illegal settlement expansion in order to save face. But the real victory is yet to be had on Feb 1st 2006, when the Israeli Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by villagers against the route of the wall on their land.
For more information call:
Mohammad Khatib – 054-5851893
Abdullah – 0547-258210
Michael Sfard – 0544-713030
ISM Media Office – 022971824