Dispossession Diary 2 – February 2019

In my dvar Torah for last Shabbat I introduced my “Dispossession Diary,” and wrote that I would publish blog entries with additional portions this week. Here is my diary for February. Along with the many other concerns that we have, we should be asking ourselves on election day which parties promote these actions, which turn a blind eye, and which are trying to put an end to these injustices.    I explained that I decided to begin this diary after too many people on an email group I am part of were decrying those perceived as anti-Israel and young North American Jews who say that “Occupation is not our Judaism,” without having a full understanding of what they are upset about.  While I also sometimes have differences of opinion with some of these groups, I asked where was our outrage regarding the ongoing oppression and dispossession of Palestinians.  If we want to dialogue about tactics, we must “have skin in the game.”  We must have an understanding of what upsets them, and show that it also upsets us enough to try to do something concrete to change the situation.

I also wrote that this is by no means a comprehensive list of what happens on a daily basis. It is limited to those events I witnessed personally, or have some close connection to.  Many of the events may seem trivial, but they have a cumulative effect. They add up to dispossession.

Finally, the fact that evil actions are being done in our name do not delegitimize Israel, and my intent is not that they cause readers to disassociate themselves from Israel. Rather, the hope is that you will be outraged enough to take action.

Unlike most of my posts, this is not a dvar Torah. However, I will mention that this Shabbat is Rosh Khodesh Nisan (The first day of the Jewish month of Nissan) and therefore Shabbat HaKhodesh one of the special Sabbaths leading up to Passover. We read Exodus 12:1-20, where we are told that this is the first month in the calendar (Not Rosh HaShana) because it is the month of our liberation. We are commanded regarding the Passover sacrifice and not to eat khametz ( leaven).  It is also an appropriate time to refresh ourselves regarding the universal message of Passover that has inspired so many peoples throughout history.  God is a liberator, and the author of freedom. While it is almost “normal” to do to others what was done to us, we are not truly observing Passover when we are oppressing and dispossessing others.

Dispossession Diary February 2019

1.2

In Rashash settlers observe shepherds, but keep distance because of our presence.

El-Khama. Army temporarily detain us and block road to volunteers trying to get to outpost where settlers harassing shepherds.

Our presence keeps settlers from expelling shepherds from Samra. Settler “Uzi” says he will take revenge by again bringing cows to planted area.

We learn that on previous Shabbat 3 sheep aborted because settlers threw stones at them.   Shepherd injured by stone.

2.2

Shabbat. Settlers violent toward shepherds in El KHama and near Maskiot. Army comes and leaves.

3.2

In November I submitted to army legal advisor for the Occupied Territories initial findings in some 14 villages about how the army has chipped away at our 2006 High Court decision requiring safe access of Palestinian farmers to their lands.  Since that meeting, we have also been pressing for Ibrahim to be able to replace 22 trees destroyed in olive grove next to Khavat Gilad outpost. I had filmed and sent a video clip of a tractor clearing land in the grove in real time, but nobody came to stop it. Today the Palestinian DCO (Liaison with army) said that Israeli DCO (Liaison with civilians) said there would only be an answer on March 3rd.  Army is only thinking about plowing. The date is too late for planting.  I try to intervene directly.  Qalqilya Israeli DCO says Nablus DCO responsible.  Nablus officer says he knows nothing, and it is Qalqilya, but farmer will need to prove ownership. (Ownership proven years ago.)

Demolition order for school in Zanuta, South Hebron Hills.

Another letter sent from Jordan Valley Project lawyer to stop the ongoing expansion of settler outpost inside the Umm Zuka nature preserve. This is a violation of Israeli law, in addition to international law.

Thirty families in El Maliakh get expulsion orders.

4.2

Office of Legal Advisor for the Occupied Territories has changed working procedures with us in place since 2006, and claims problems farmers have accessing their lands are not their responsibility because these are “coordination problems.” Says we must talk to the Civil Administration.  We protested this, but set up a meeting with  CA. for 5.2. Today, the CA cancelled.

Taibe land owners are afraid to press complaint about settler trees planted on their land.

5.2

Army uproots 459 trees in Bardela

6.2.

Settlers attack elderly shepherd from Farasiya.

7.2

“Unrecognized” Bedouin village of Al Araqib in Negev (Existed before the State) demolished for 139th time since 2010.  Five arrested for “trespassing” on their own land, even though land ownership case is still in court.

Settler from Hemdat harasses shepherds. Our volunteers are present, and restrain him.

Army says area near Samra closed. Shepherds prefer to move, rather than wait and see written order.

9.2

Shabbat Settlers from Hemdat enter Bedouin encampment and harass.

10.2

Settlers from Malakhei HaShalom send their flock to block Bedouin flocks, then call army to ask them to expel the Bedouin because they are in a live fire zone.  It addition to the fact that international law doesn’t allow Israel to create live fire zones in an occupied area and that the Bedouin were allowed to graze there before Malakhei HaShalom was set up a few years ago, the settler flock is also in the live fire zone.  Guy films Elkhanan on phone saying we are causing a provocation and planning an attack. This is a minute after I informed Elkhanan that in fact the Bedouin were trying to avoid him, and asked him to also keep his distance. The army comes and expels us, but the Bedouin are already far away.

11.2

Soldiers near Omer’s Farm are fine while we are present, but order shepherds to move far away after we leave.

Army destroys and blocks road to Shab Al Butam in “Live Fire Zone 918” in South Hebron Hills. Although it is illegal according to international law for Israel to set up army practice zones in Occupied Territories, Israel has been doing this since 1967 as a form of land control.  Palestinian cave dwellers were expelled from this area in 1999, but the Israeli High Court returned them with a temporary restraining order. The state has been trying to expel them by various means ever since then.

12.2

A shepherd had to be hospitalized after attacked by Israelis, apparently settlers from the Rotem “ecological” settlement.  We had to pressure the army to allow evacuation.  The attackers claimed they were attacked, and more shepherds were arrested.

Army comes to Rashash, after settlers as usual try to block Bedouin, and then call the army.

Teachers to Shab Al Butam need to go on muddy off road, get stuck, and walk kilometers because of destroyed road.

Army expels shepherds east of Omer’s Farm, including from Area A under full Palestinian control.)

13.2

Army pushes shepherds back from area far from Omer’s Farm immediately after we leave.

Demolition order given for additional road in Live Fire Zone 918, and army severs water pipe to  Khalat Al Daba. The feeling is they want to make life impossible, so people will leave “of their own accord.”  Mayor of local council arrested and says he was beaten, apparently for asking to see written order for severing pipe.

Settlers shadow shepherds in Rashash.

PM Netanyahu says he will destroy Khan Al Akhmar before elections.

14.2

Two shepherds arrested on the 11th for sexual harassment and stone throwing are released, after settler who brought accusations can’t identify, and contradicts herself.

  1. 2.

Shepherd from Nueimah arrested, then released.  Soon after he sells his flocks. He told me that the settler Omer (Omer’s Farm) entered his home, put a gun to his head, and said he would kill all his sheep if he continues to graze his sheep in “Omer’s” area.  His father made him sell his sheep quickly, and at a loss.

Settler shepherds bother Bedouin shepherds and activists in Rashash.  One throws a stone that just misses an activist’s head.  She thinks it was not intentional-he was trying to throw stones at sheep.

17.2

The shepherds who were arrested after they were attacked on 12.2 are finally brought before a judge, and released.

17.2

After period of relative quiet, soldiers again begin improperly using temporary orders to expel Palestinians day after day from areas around Omer’s Farm. If there is a justification for having an area permanently closed, there should be a permanent order. Apparently, the higher ups in the army don’t believe that there is justification.  The local commander can’t issue a permanent order, but can issue temporary orders.

16.2

Army and settlers expel shepherds from Samra, We call, and a more senior officer promises to take care of it.

18.2

Demolition orders given for playground in Makhmiya, in “Live Fire Zone 918.” In South Hebron Hills.

19.2

We catch settlers in act of bringing their sheep into cultivated area belonging to Palestinians from Dir Jarir (on the side of the Alon road. The flocks come from the Ma’aleh Shlomo outpost), immediately after helping Palestinians plow an area nearby.  Bedouin shepherds who plant for their flocks suffer huge losses because settlers bring their sheep into cultivated areas.  The police and army do very little because in this area the Bedouin are not the owners, and the owners are afraid to file complaints.  In this case the land owner does come, speaks with the police, and is willing to file a complaint.

Home demolished in Alras Al Akhmar (Not Khan Al Akhmar)

Rotem security officer harasses shepherds.

21.2

Four women in jeep plow through herd south of the Omer’s Farm outpost, and a shepherd is arrested.

Nablus Israeli DCO officer gives more run around for Ibrahim from Farata (see 3.2)

In recent days demolition orders handed out in Fakhit (Live Fire Zone 918) Today, four in Dakeikah.

22.2

There is huge fear among shepherds south of Omer’s farm   Many fewer shepherds show up, and they stay further away.  East of Omer’s farm soldiers expel flocks into Area A (areas under full Palestinian control, where the Israeli army is not supposed to have any authority or presence.) I point this out to the soldiers. A religious officer explains that this is like the religious concept of “Mukhsa”-prohibiting permitted actions because they might lead to a forbidden action.  She explained that if they flocks were only expelled to the border of where they could issue a closure order, the sheep might accidentally cross the line.  She finally agreed that she could only demand the shepherds leave the area covered in the order, and that she could request that they move farther.  By then, the shepherds had already moved deeper into Area A.

One day this week Didi from the Rotem “ecological” settlement flies a drone over Bedouin flocks to scare them away.  It is illegal according to Israeli law for civilians to fly drones in the Occupied Territories.

26.2

Mostly quiet.  Ali moved a few meters north of nun dalet.

Al Araqib’s trial to prove they own the lands they have lived on since 1906 begins.

  1. 2

Trees uprooted in Thalet Al Daba

Home demolished in Alras Al Akhmar (Not Khan Al Akhmar)

Rotem security officer harasses shepherds.

About the Author
Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization "Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice." Previously, he led "Rabbis For Human Rights" for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman is a sought after lecturer, has received numerous prizes for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 "Israel vs Israel." He is recognized as a role model for faith based human rights activism.
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