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Hebron: Resistance to More Land Theft

By the ISM Media Team

June 29th, 2007. On Friday evening about 20 human rights workers including members of ISM, EAPPI and CPT went to the Jabari family home which is situated on land between the Kiryat Arba and Givat Havot settlements. Settlers have constructed a footpath crossing the Jabari’s land in order to connect Kiryat Arba to Givat Havot. In 2002, settlers erected a tent on the Jabari’s land which they call a synagogue. The tent was dismantled twice by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) but the settlers rebuilt it. Currently there are no plans to dismantle the tent, instead the settlers are not supposed to enter it. If this is not making any sense to you, then you are not the only one. I can’t make any sense of it either.

The Jabari family asked members of the human rights groups to accompany them to their land so they could clear the dried grass and prepare the land to be used agriculturally again. The family has not used the land in the last six years, because of settler harassment, especially from settlement guards who are stationed across the street. This is despite a court order allowing them to do so. In the past, the family grazed their sheep and goats and cultivated fig trees and grapes on the land.

We arrived on the land and began pulling up the grass and packing it into bags for the animals to eat. The family eventually plans to plant olive trees on the land. We called the Israeli police before we got there to alert them to what we would be doing so they would be present to prevent any mischief and interference from settlers. Last time the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) came here, settlers prepared breakfast in the form of eggs and tomatoes to the head. The army and police eventually showed up and stood around but did not try to interfere. Settlers came and went; one placed a chair on the footpath, produced a Torah, and began praying.

Working The Land Part 1.

The greatest thing about the action was that the family was able to bring their goats onto the land to help finish the work. Fear of settlers harassing the family and hurting the goats had prevented them from doing this for a long time.

Working The Land Part 2.

We left as it began to grow dark, but not before we had tea and snacks and some of use got to ride the Jabari’s Arabian horse!

The walk back to Tel Rumeida was chock-full of the usual settler and soldier shenanigans which Hebron is known for. Palestinians are prevented from driving cars on the road that splits Kiryat Arba and Givat Havot. So they walk, or ride bikes, or ride horses. Oops, wait, I take that back, they can walk their horses, but they can’t ride them. A couple of Palestinians on horseback rode down the street and were ordered off the horses by soldiers. It was like they were in the 6th grade and the hall monitor was telling them not to ride their bike in the hall. Except it was some teenaged soldiers telling 30 year old men they had to walk their horses.

Walking down worshipper’s way we were greeted by settler saliva and rocks as they passed us on the way back from the Ibrahimi mosque/synagogue back to Kiryat Arba. We informed the army of this and as usual they did nothing.

At the mosque, Issa, our fearless Palestinian ISM coordinator was detained by soldiers who asked for his ID and searched his bag. In the meantime, another soldier had spirited away a teenaged member of the Jabari family who had been accompanying us.

The soldier took him over to a dark corner and it was a minute or so before we realized that the soldier was violently searching the boy and punching him in the stomach. As soon as we noticed and started screaming at the soldier, he stopped and released the boy.

The is something I have seen quite frequently, soldiers in Hebron will not beat a Palestinian if they know human rights workers are watching, so they try to sneak them away to someplace where we can’t see and as soon as they are discovered, they stop because they know what they are doing is wrong.

In the future, the local human rights groups plan to continue to accompany the Jabari’s to their land so they can begin cultivating it once more.