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Derisory Supreme Court hearing on the wall in al-Walaja

08 November 2010 | Stella & Jillian

On Monday the 8th of November, after a two hour charade in the Supreme Court of Israel, the decision over the path of the wall in Al-Walaja (near Bethlehem), was adjourned for another 45 days. Their indecisiveness was mainly with respect to the fact that the path on which the wall is already being built is entirely private property belonging to Palestinian villagers. The court needs to wait for the Palestinian’s land to be officially confiscated before they can make a decision, but for now has ruled that bulldozers can continue excavating along their preferred path for the wall while construction is temporarily frozen.

This impermanent decision was made after judges referred to the ‘professional’ agricultural opinion of a representative from the Israeli Army any effects on the land of continuing excavation for the wall. They asked him if he thought the wall could be easily moved somewhere else and the land rehabilitated if the final decision is to build the wall somewhere else. He said, of course, that there would be no problem. There was present an expert from an environmental organization who was far more knowledgeable on the matter, but judges decided not to question her as she had already stated the best option for the agriculture is to only put a fence there.

The villagers left the court room obviously shocked that the bulldozers will continue devastating their land. One woman from Al-Walaja was arrested just for addressing a member of the army, saying she hoped he would sleep well since he obviously doesn’t have any idea about what it’s like to live in ghetto. She was later released with no charges after three hours.

We witnessed the supreme court purportedly taking evidence from both sides regarding the building of the wall around the illegal settlements Har Gilo and Gilo adjacent to Al-Walaja. The only issue discussed was the proximity of the wall in relation to the Palestinian village. The Israeli barrister’s argument presented the settlers as having carefully researched the position, height and necessity for the wall, as well as having carefully examined a number of alternatives both by themselves and by skilled outsiders.

A portion of the wall that has already been built in Al-Walaja, seen from the settlers' perspective

The land is being used illegally by Israeli settlers, and the Israeli barrister justified this illegal appropriation by quoting a law that says that in an emergency land can be taken immediately and the legality discussed later. The issue of land confiscation — or the theft of Palestinian land — goes to the heart of the issue for the Palestinians, but the focus of this hearing was only on the proximity of the wall.

As internationals observing this hearing we saw the court proceedings as a screen veiling Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinians through the continual erosion of their land and rights. Palestinians deserve the rights to security, dignity and respect, and acknowledgment of not only their property but their existence as a people who belong to the land of Palestine. The wall is not only an affront to human dignity, but a symbol of Zionist apartheid isolating Palestinians into Bantustans. Such a trial focusing only on the proximity of the wall deflects attention away from the real issue of land theft.