HAARETZ: Israel pushing to legalize West Bank outpost slated for demolition

febbraio 26, 2014 at 8:18 am

by Amira Hass. February 23, 2014

The Defense Ministry is in the process of legalizing the status of Avigayil, an illegal outpost in the southern Hebron Hills. Avigayil, founded in 2001 on more than 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of land, is located between the Maon and Susiya settlements. The authorization process is at an advanced stage.

Avigayil is part of a chain of Jewish settlements and unauthorized outposts in the area that is rapidly expanding into a bloc that also includes Beit Yattir, Havat Lucifer, Mitzpeh Yair, Susiya, Maon, Havat Maon and Carmel. The official combined area of the legal settlements in the area, excluding Maon and Avigayil, is 10,180 dunams.

To the east of the bloc is a 30,000-dunam Israel Defense Forces firing range, from which the Defense Ministry is trying to remove eight Palestinian villages. The case is currently in mediation.

The gradual expansion of the settlements’ residential and agricultural areas has been accompanied by regular, well-documented efforts by settlers to block the access of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the area to increasing portions of their land. The numerous closure orders issued by the IDF for the area also limit Palestinian access to their land. The IDF says the closures are designed to prevent friction and conflict between the populations.

Administrative measures against most of Avigayil’s buildings, which were erected without permits, have been suspended since the various orders were issued. The Mount Hebron Regional Council and the Civil Administration are cooperating on drafting a master plan for the site. During a visit to Avigayl in late December, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stressed that the work to legalize the outpost was moving ahead.

Soon after Avigayl’s founding in 2001, stop-work orders were issued, but never carried out. Avigayil was one of 26 outposts that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised in 2003 to evacuate as part of the Road Map. Some 30 familes live in Avigayil.


Expansion works in the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on continue

febbraio 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm

On February 25 at 10.09 AM an excavator started to work in the south-east part of Havat Ma’on. There at 10.56 AM a truck arrived and downloaded a big amount of land. The excavator moved the land to form a new basement. Three settler were working on that.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.

Operation Dove continues to monitor and denounce every illegal building activity inside the Israeli outposts in the South Hebron Hills.

Il 25 febbraio alle 10.09 tre coloni con un escavatore hanno iniziato a lavorare nella parte sud-orientale di Havat Ma’on. Sul posto, alle 10.56, è arrivato un camion che ha scaricato due container di terra. L’escavatore ha utilizzato questo materiale per formare un nuovo spiazzo per future strutture dell’avamposto.

Secondo la IV Convenzione di Ginevra, la II Convenzione dell’Aja, la Corte Internazionale di Giustizia e numerose risoluzioni ONU, tutti gli insediamenti israeliani nei Territori Palestinesi Occupati sono illegali. Gli avamposti, Havat Ma’on compreso, sono considerati illegali anche secondo la legge israeliana.

Operazione colomba continua a monitorare e denunciare ogni attività di espansione illegale degli avamposti presenti nella zona delle colline a sud di Hebron.

An open letter to Naftali Bennett

febbraio 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Haaretz; By Nasser Nawajah

“Unlike you, and most Israelis, water is not something I take for granted. It is a daily existential struggle”.

Dear Minister Bennett:

My name is Nasser Nawajah. Although we have never met, I am sure that you have visited very close to my home. My neighbors from the settlement of Susya are very fond of you. In the last election, 270 of the 381 voters from the settlement of Susya voted for you and your party.


P/R: Palestinian activists successfully plant 100 olive trees in fields targeted by settlers in South Hebron Hills

febbraio 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm
Only five days ago settlers uprooted 80 Palestinian olive trees in the same area

(Segue versione in italiano)

February 16, 2014

At Tuwani – Yesterday morning more than 60 Palestinian men, women and children from the South Hebron Hills and city of Hebron gathered in the Palestinian village of Susiya and together with international and Israeli activists, participated in a nonviolent action  organized by the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee. The action consisted in planting some 100 olive trees on Palestinian-owned land near the settlement of Suseya.

At around 11.00 am Palestinian activists started to plant olive trees in the Palestinian-owned fields close to the gravel road in front of the settlement of Suseya.  An army car was already there and after some minutes additional Israeli forces arrived on the spot for a total of ten border police officers, sixteen soldiers and two policemen. In the meantime, other activists were affixing placards which read “no to occupation and settlement expansion” to trees and electricity poles.

At 11.14 am the soldiers declared the area a “closed military zone” and after some minutes started pushing the activists away. A group of Palestinian slowed the Israeli forces action, giving other Palestinians the time to continue planting olive trees along the gravel road. In some cases border police officers men used harsh manners, even jostling some women.  The Israeli forces were able to make Palestinians move about 100 meters away.

As soon as the soldiers stopped pushing, Palestinian women began singing while other activists took pictures in front of the soldiers. The planting of olive trees continued. At 11.49 am an army vehicle with a water cannon arrived and some activists moved away. However, a small group of activists faced the vehicle, standing in front of it and waving placards and chanting slogan against the Israeli occupation. At 12.16 am when the planting was over, the Palestinians slowly returned to the Palestinian village of Susyia.

Among Palestinian activists was Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (Palestinian Parliament) since 2006 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustafa_Barghouti).

That action was a direct reply to the uprooting of eighty olive trees in Palestinian fields near Suseya, which happened only five days previously (http://tuwaniresiste.operazionecolomba.it/?p=2994).

Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills are strongly committed to accessing their land for everyday farming activities.

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident: click here

For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Settlers chased and attcked two Palestinian shepherds and shouted against Israeli policeman

febbraio 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Settler while shouting against the Israeli policeman
Colono mentre urla in faccia al poliziotto israeliano

On february 14 morning three settlers from the Mitzpe Yair illegal outpost chased and attacked two Palestinian shepherds near the village of Mirkez in the South Hebron Hills.

At 10.20 am three Palestinians and two internationals arrived at the scene to record the incident and seven settlers came out from the outpost, coming very close to the Palestinians. Three soldiers were also present, and they didn’t stop the settlers who attacked the shepherd. A policeman arrived shortly after, ask questions of both sides. The settlers told the soldiers and the policeman to prevent the Palestinians from returning home via the Palestinian path and fields. A settler shouted at the Palestinians and even at the policeman. The soldiers’ behavior was really friendly with settlers: They didn’t intervene to separate the settlers and Palestinians and forced the latter to take a longer way home following the settlers’ request.

The group of settlers remained close to the Palestinians for about one hour.

One of the shepherd later filed a complaint against the attackers at the Kiryat Arba police station.

Nella mattina di venerdì 14 febbraio, tre coloni dell’avamposto illegale di Mitzpe Yair hanno inseguito e attaccato due pastore palestinesi vicino al villaggio di Mirkez nelle Colline a Sud di Hebron.

Alle 10.20 tre palestinesi e due internazionali sono giunti sul luogo dell’attacco per documentare l’incidente e sette coloni sono usciti dall’avamposto avvicinandosi ai palestinesi presenti fino ad arrivare a contatto con loro, senza che i tre soldati presenti tentassero minimamente di fermarli. Pochi minuti dopo è arrivato un poliziotto israeliano che ha raccolto la testimonianza di entrambi le parti. I coloni hanno chiesto al poliziotto ed ai soldati di impedire ai palestinesi di transitare sulla via del ritorno verso casa attraverso Il sentiero ed i campi di proprietà palestinesi di quella zona. Di fronte alla titubanza del poliziotto i coloni hanno dato in escandescenza urlando in faccia sia ai palestinesi che al poliziotto presente. Nonstante questo il comportamento dei soldati è sempre stato estremamente amichevole verso i coloni: non hanno mai provato ad allantonare i coloni dai palestinesi nemmeno nei momenti più caldi ed hanno costretto questi ultimi a tornare verso casa percorrendo una via più lunga, di fatto acconsentendo alle richieste dei coloni.

Per circa un’ora il gruppo di coloni ha continuato ad infastidire i palestinesi.

Uno dei due pastori palestinese attaccati dai coloni ha in seguito sporto denuncia presso la stazione di polizia di Kiryat Arba.


Settler while drinking from the soldier’s water bottle
Colono mentre beve dalla borraccia di un soldato

P/R: Eighty young olive trees uprooted in South Hebron Hills

febbraio 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

February 12, 2014

At Tuwani – Yesterday in the afternoon Palestinians discovered about eighty olive trees uprooted alongside bypass road 317 near the Susiya junction in the South Hebron Hills.

The olive tree grove belongs to the Hushiya family from the nearby town of Yatta and had been planted only three weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon the owners and B’tselem staff members gathered near the destroyed trees, waiting for the police. The Israeli police and District Coordination Office arrived on the scene and documented the incident. Today Operation Dove volunteers and B’tselem staff went there to take more pictures.

This field is part of the area that settlers from the nearby settlement of Suseya illegally occupied during 2007, planting a vineyard. Immediately the Palestinians with the help of Rabbis for Human Rights filed a complain and started a legal process concerning this land (for more details click here). In 2013 the Israeli High Court ordered the army to dismantle theese crops and the order was implemented by force.

The number of Palestinian-owned trees uprooted and damaged in the South Hebron Hills area since the beginning of 2014 now rises to 100. Olive trees are an essential resource for the Palestinian community, and their damage causes serious economic loss.

Nevertheless the Palestinian communities of the South Hebron Hills area are still strongly involved in using nonviolence as a way to resist to the Israeli occupation. Just two days ago twenty-five Palestinians planted sixty new olive trees on their own land close to Avigayil illegal outpost (for more details click here).

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident: click here

For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Palestinians succesfully planted 60 olive trees in their own fields close to Avigayil outpost

febbraio 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm

On February 10 at 9.00 am twenty-five Palestinians men, women and children from Umm Dirit village went in the valley close to the illegal outpost of Avigayil to work their own land. They planted about sixty olive trees and plowed the fields using three horses. While the men were digging holes and plowing, the women brought the water to irrigate the new trees from the closest Palestinian well. On the place were also an Israeli activist, a B’Tselem operator and two internationals. The Israeli DCO officers and soldiers were watching from the outpost. At 11:30 the Palestinians finished their works without be interrupted.

Only one month ago the settlers from Avigayil put eleven barrels on the ground trying to build a new kind of border, illegally occupying those fields. Yesterday the Palestinians affirmed the right to access their own land and work on it.

To see the whole photogallery click here

Il 10 febbraio alle 9.00 venticinque palestinesi del villaggio di Umm Dirit uomini, donne e ragazzini sono andati davanti all’avamposto illegale di Avigayil a lavorare le terre di loro proprietà. Tutti insieme hanno piantato circa sessanta alberi di ulivo e arato i campi servendosi di tre cavalli. Mentre gli uomini hanno scavato le buche per gli ulivi e condotto gli animali da soma, le donne hanno portato le taniche d’acqua attingendo al vicino pozzo palestinese per irrigare i nuovi alberelli. Sul posto c’erano anche: un’attivista israeliano, un operatore di B’tselem e due internazionali. I soldati israeliani e gli ufficiali della DCO (District Coordination Office) stavano osservando la scena dall’avamposto. Alle 11:30 i palestinesi hanno finito i lavori senza essere interrotti.

Solo un mese fa i coloni di Avigayil avevano tentato di annettere illegalmente i medesimi campi all’avamposto, posizionando undici barili per segnare un nuovo confine. Ieri i Palestinesi hanno esercitato il legittimo diritto ad accedere alla loro proprietà.

Per vedere tutte le foto clicca qui

HAARETZ: Taking livestock: The tale of the Palestinian shepherd and his goats

febbraio 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm

by Amira Hass

The abuse of a shepherd from the South Hebron Hills by Nahal Brigade soldiers will cost the state 5,501 shekels ($1,557). That is what Judge Nir Nahshon, senior registrar of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, ruled last Thursday: 3,500 shekels for the goat and two kids the Israel Defense Forces soldiers confiscated for no reason, and 2,000 shekels for mental anguish after detaining the shepherd for about three hours.

From this amount the judge deducted 25 percent for “contributory guilt,” and all told the state will pay the shepherd, Kamel Mahamra, 4,125 shekels. The state will also pay 1,000 shekels for his legal fees and refund a 376 shekel court fee to Mahamra, who sued the state and won.

This calculation does not include the rest of the costs the state incurred because a group of soldiers did what soldiers tend to do there, in the wild, wild south: abuse – either following orders from higher up or at their own behest.

But this time a precedent was set: the abuse led to a lawsuit, filed by attorney Eitay Mack, and a quick hearing in court.

We do not know how much the Defense Ministry paid to the agricultural assessor who calculated the value of the goat and two kids that disappeared.

We are not calculating the value of the trees that were cut down for all the forms in the file of the investigative branch of the Military Police, lawsuit and defense briefs, plus courtroom transcripts.

We are not calculating the amount of diesel fuel or gasoline used to bring the soldiers to the Military Police investigation.

And we are not asking about the salary of attorney Talia Kalamaro, the representative of the Jerusalem district of the State Prosecutor’s Office, so we can calculate the time she spent writing the state’s defense brief, in which she said: “Above and beyond the letter of the law … the defendant is willing to compensate the plaintiff for the damages that will be proved by him as a result of the removal of the goats.”

At the same time, it should be pointed out, Kalamaro asked the court to reject the suit and require Mahamra to pay court costs and legal fees to the state.

The indefatigable Ta’ayush activists and I tried, in real time, to follow up on the fate of the goat, two kids and a donkey.

And here is what has been learned since then, as a result of the filing of the lawsuit: Mahamra, 31, a resident of the small village of Maghayir al-Abeed, went to herd his goats on February 18, 2013. Maghayir al-Abeed is one of 12 decades-old Palestinian villages, among which the IDF decided to place a firing range. Its fate is now under discussion in a mediation process.

Kalamaro claimed that Mahamra entered Firing Range 522, located nearby – where there is a ban on grazing livestock. Mack claimed that, since he was not allowed to examine the Military Police case file, he does not know where exactly the incident occurred. In any event, there are no clear markings that delineate where one firing zone ends and the other begins.

Mahamra started gathering together his herd, including two newborn kids, whom he placed in sacks on his donkey. There is no disagreement that young boys then appeared. In the state’s version, they came close to ammunition in order to steal it. Mack assumes they wanted to collect the empty shell casings. As the occupation brings poverty and impoverishment, Palestinians, especially those in the fringe areas, recycle everything – from empty soda cans to the metal fibers in tires. So why should they leave the shiny metal of the empty shells to rust in the fields?

Our forces and jeeps started chasing after the boys, who managed to escape. Our forces then aimed a rifle at Mahamra, asked where the boys were, and decided he was lying when he answered that he didn’t know where they were, that he had no connection with them and that he must get home.

In the meantime, the herd of goats started to scatter. Our forces left and Mahamra discovered the donkey, the newborn kids and a goat had disappeared.

Was it a field punishment for not leading the soldiers to the boys? Not at all, wrote Kalamaro in the defense brief: “The plaintiff told the soldiers that he was unable to remove the animals from there, and for that reason the soldiers themselves removed them from Firing Range 522,” where the exercises were being conducted with live ammunition.

This argument made Mack laugh. “Do you mean,” he asked the court, “that the merciful soldiers simply wanted to rescue the goat, the kids and the donkey, but left behind, in this dangerous place, the shepherd and his 120-odd other goats, and another shepherd that was also there with his herd?”

Back then, on February 18, Mahamra saw the donkey tied up to an army water carrier, but he did not dare to get close. The day was ending, so he gathered his herd and took them home, minus one goat, two kids and the donkey.

At the time, the IDF Spokesman said the soldiers had returned the animals to the field, but only the donkey came back after three days.

Mack demanded compensation for his client for the goat and kids, the time he lost and his mental anguish. Mack listed 13 legal obligations the soldiers had violated in their abuse, including the animal cruelty law, which bans torture, abuse or cruelty to animals in any fashion. The state’s defense denied the claims.

Mack estimated the mental anguish at 20,000 shekels. The state was willing to recognize only limited physical harm. Judge Nahshon made his decision, and deducted 25 percent because of Mahamra’s contributory guilt – his entering Firing Range 522.

Would it not have been cheaper and simpler for the state if the Nahal soldiers had not harassed Mahamra when he grazed his herd?

P/R: Settlers attack Palestinian shepherds, Israeli activists and internationals during nonviolent action in South Hebron Hills

febbraio 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm
Israeli soldiers allow settlers to attack Palestinians who were grazing flocks on their own land
(segue versione in italiano)

February 9, 2014

At Tuwani – Saturday morning during a nonviolent action claiming the right of Palestinians to access their own land, a group of settlers from the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Eshtamoa attacked Palestinians, Israeli activists and internationals with stones and sticks, while Israeli soldiers stood by and watched.

At 9.36 a.m. about fifteen Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills village of Shuweika, accompanied by eight Israeli activists and five internationals, went with five flocks in the valley near Mitzpe Eshtamoa  to claim their right to access their own fields. When the shepherds arrived in the valley they found a Star of David created with stones and rocks on Palestinian-owned property. Palestinians, Israeli activists and internationals together removed the stones and rocks, cleaning up the field. At 9.59 am a group of settlers appeared from the outpost, looking toward the shepherds and activists. After about half an hour settlers started organizing the attack, even as Israeli soldiers were inside the outpost.

At 10:53 a group of twenty settlers, half of them masked, stormed down the hill and threw stones with slingshots. Israeli soldiers watched the scene without intervening, even when four settlers ran towards an Israeli activist and beat up him. After that the settlers moved to a nearby hill and continued throwing stones. Only at this time did the soldiers unsuccessfully attempt to stop the settlers. Several minutes later the Palestinian landowner arrived in the valley to show his property document to the soldiers. Settler also threw stones at the landowner, but they didn’t hit him.

No settlers were arrested or detained by soldiers or Israeli police, the latter arriving on the scene at about 12.00 am.

Despite this event, the Palestinians from the village of Shuweika are still strongly committed to accessing their land for everyday farming activities.
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident: click here

Video of the incident: click here

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Video: Settlers from Mitzpe Eshtamoa attack Palestinian shepherds, Israeli activists and internationals

febbraio 9, 2014 at 12:31 pm