Near the village of Hares south-west of Nablus lays the industrial compound of Barqan where Salman Mahmoud Simlawi has been facing a takeover of his land for decades by two factories on each side of his property. On Thursday the 26th the factory managed to uproot several olive trees after arresting Simlawi and preventing him to contact his lawyer nor any human rights groups.
On three occasions ISM Nablus has spent time on Simlawis land trying to prevent further conquest from the Villar factory bulldozer. Villar international is an Israeli construction company that specializes in large scale residential projects, amongst other things expansions for settlements.
“Villar group specializes in finding and purchasing lands for industrial buildings, safe housing for immigrants to Israel and offices for lease.” – Villar Corporate Statement.
For companies such as Villar producing their materials in industrial compounds inside Palestine is an opportunity to acquire a lower minimum wage, around 8-10 NIS per hour, cheaper than the average 19 NIS per hour in Israel. In 1982 Villar began clearing land to expand their productions facilities and Simlawi chose to go to court. Since 1986 Simlawi has legally been able to work on his original land near Hares yet harassment from the factory using military help continues with Villar refusing to recognize the 1986 court decision when confronted on Simlawis land. Now facing two large factories on each side Simlawi is slowly but surely loosing land. Simlawis only chance to fight the factory is through the Israeli legal system, but it requires the appearance and cooperation of the civil administration who haven’t yet showed support.