On this last Saturday, June 6, Taayush members started the day by going to Safa. Honestly, after last week’s violence I wasn’t that eager to go, but as Amiel said, for that reason, “the people there need us the most.”
We went to the fields where the villagers of Safa pick grape leaves. Upon arriving we discovered that the army had declared a “Closed Military Zone” on the lands they use for agriculture. Not only was the land off-limits, we were told that the order was in effect until June 21, over two weeks. By that time, many of the grape leaves may no longer be usable. Furthermore, this goes against an Israeli Supreme Court ruling stating that the Palestinians should not be prevented from accessing their agricultural lands.
The IDF, in trying to make their own job easier, is essentially punishing the Palestinians for the settler attacks against them.
After we photographed the military order for a Closed Military Zone we left.
Our next activity took place in the village of Susya, in the South Hebron Hills. The Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace had organized a group of about 100 Israelis, Palestinians and internationals to erect a structure along-side the developing illegal outpost ‘Givat HaDegel’.
The land the outpost is on is unquestionably Palestinian. The owner has documentation, the IDF did not dispute it, and Israeli news confirmed it. Nevertheless, the IDF is allowing the settlers from the settlement of Susya to build there.
Back in January I wrote about the developments at Givat HaDegel. A couple months after that, I saw that they had started to build a cement floor.
On this Saturday, when we ascended the hill, I saw close-up that a full building had been constructed.
The Combatants for Peace and the people that joined them built what was essentially a ‘sukkah’, and covered it with the colors of the Palestinian flag. Immediately soldiers started to dismantle it. After a short time they declared a Closed Military Zone.
I cannot say that I was surprised by what happened. However, Givat HaDegel is not on the government list of illegal outposts, which has 26, far short of the actual number. Also, Israel’s Channel 2 news had a brief piece on the event, but neglected to even mention the settler’s construction.
There is something very wrong here when it is regarded as radical action for people to go to their private land. It is somehow normal here that the land owner is not allowed onto his own land, and that the IDF is used to keep him off, while permitting Israeli citizens to build on it. This is the situation Palestinians find themselves in. The Israeli police and military have authority over them, but only work to protect Israeli citizens, even when they are committing crimes.