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Palestinians Prevented from Accessing Their Land Despite High Court Ruling

Report from Nablus region

Deir Al Hattab August 17th, 2007

Four international ISM human rights workers joined Palestinian activists and the local popular committee yesterday in Deir Al Hattab concerning the ongoing situation there.

Deir Al Hattab is a village of 13,000 dunums that has been able to reach only 5,000 since 1986 due to the grabbing of land from the settlement Elon Moreh done in collusion with the Israeli occupying forces. Elon Moreh is situated on two hilltops and between these hilltops is around 2,000 dunums of land they have decided to annex. In 1993 the Israeli High Court ruled that the Palestinian villagers who own the land must be allowed to access it. In response the military has declared all of it a closed military zone and prevents villagers from working or visiting their land.

The human rights workers were led around the village to see the land that was stolen, and were told about the recent developments. A few days previously, an Israeli activist from Ta’ayesh crossed the Israeli only road that runs through this land, around the settlement, and saw that on a thousand dunums, separate from the 2,000 already claimed by the settlement, settlers had planted 5,000 olive trees. This is an attempt to establish lies on the ground to prove that the land belongs to the settlement. Members of the local Popular Committee then pointed out 6 dunums close to the settlement, also separate from the 2,000 already annexed, that had been set on fire the day before. IOF soldiers allowed the Palestinian owner and a few members of his family in to his land to try to put out the fire but the damage was visible from the village. This is another tactic settlers use to harass and drive out Palestinian people from their land, and clear it for their own use.

We witnessed all of this from afar. Settlers and nearby military camps won’t even allow Palestinians to see the damage closely, much less visit the land they own. Behind the settlement the local villagers pointed out a building on another hilltop, a 700 year old holy site of Sheikh Billal, used as a signal tower in case of an attack on Nablus, that was closed to Palestinians and had a military camp next to it. The popular committee stood there surrounded by their stolen land, which they were unable to access, and said they would like to organize a campaign against this injustice, with media and legal work, and demonstrations, not just one, but many, weekly, to protest the theft of their land, and the arrogant defiance by the IOF of their own High Court rulings.

They called on international activists and Israeli activists, people from all walks of life that wished to protest injustice to come and witness what was happening around them.

People are being organized with more definite details to come.