Palestine: A Journal of Loss
Christian Peacemaker Teams Report from Hebron, West Bank:
This month was a busy one for Israeli bulldozer operators in the
Hebron district.... Targets last month included a Palestinian
cemetary in Beit Meersam and two Bedouin wells in Aramadin....
The Israeli army destroyed the home of a Palestinian near Ramallah
while a tour of the Knesset deputies looked on. A bulldozer, accompanied
by Israeli troops, demolished the unfinished three-room home belonging
to Ali Samhan, located near a road leading to a Jewish settlement
outside the village of Ras Karkar.
Christian Peacemaker Teams Report from Hebron, West Bank:
Abdel Jawad Jaber in the Beqa’a valley east of Hebron received
an order to return all of the agricultural fields between his
house and the new settlement access road to their original condition
by June 12. If he does not destroy his vineyards and olive groves
by that date, the army will do it for him and charge him for the
use of the bulldozer.
Edward W. Said, Le Monde Diplomatique:
The second overriding reality is that minute by minute, hour by
hour, day after day, we are losing more Palestinian land to the
Israelis. Scarcely a road, or a highway, or a village that we
passed hasn’t witnessed the daily tragedy of land expropriated;
fields bulldozed; trees, plants and crops uprooted; houses demolished,
while the Palestinian owners stood by, helpless to stop it.
In Jenin District, a batch of Israeli soldiers uprooted more than
130 olive trees from a land owned by Tayseer Zeid in Nazlit Zaid
village claiming that it is a “state-land.” The trees
were lately transported in lorries to Shaked colony (settlement).
Meanwhile, the Israeli bulldozers damaged 10 dunums [2.5 acres]
of land cultivated with tobacco, and owned by Tayseer.
Neve Gordon, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
Since 1967, Israel has reduced to rubble some 6,000 Palestinian
houses in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. Over 500 of these
houses have been destroyed following the signing of the Oslo peace
accords in September 1993. Professor Jeff Halper of Ben-Gurion
University maintains that although an elaborate system of housing
regulations, laws, and procedures has been employed to give the
policy a legal justification, the real purpose “is to confine
the two million residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem
to small, crowded, impoverished, and disconnected bantustans.”
Agence France Presse:
All that is left of Mahmud Hajaj’s olive grove is a meaningless
title deed. A road built by the Israeli army for the Jewish settlers
in Gaza now runs over his land, although it was put under Palestinian
control by the Oslo accords. “Just like every morning, I
went out to see my land. From a distance, I saw the bulldozer
and the tank that blocked the entrance,” explains this 75
year-old farmer. “I had 280 olive-trees. A neighbour told
me it took them all day to pull them out. I just couldn’t
bear to watch.” ....The road also runs over 60 acres of
Palestinian farmland, mainly wheat fields and olive groves....
Phil Reeves, The Independent:
The residents of El-Kararah, a scattering of Palestinian smallholdings
in the Gaza Strip, were preparing for bed when the Israeli armoured
bulldozers came to flatten their homes and to drive them off the
land.... The bulldozers came at night—three armoured machines
crowned with machine guns and backed by Israeli tanks—and
began uprooting their orange and olive orchards, transforming
them into a moonscape of twisted roots, broken tree trunks and
rubble. The villagers say that, as the bulldozers crashed into
their houses, they grabbed their children and whatever possessions
they could carry, and fled on foot, weeping and screaming.
Herbert W. Chilstrom, Minneapolis Star Tribune:
I could feel the anger welling up. We were standing in the ravaged
fields of Abu Houli, a Palestinian farmer near the city of Gaza.
Just a few days earlier Israeli troops had uprooted his olive
and orange orchards and had crushed one of his greenhouses. Near
midnight the next day they came again with a loud pounding on
the door. This time, they said, his house must be razed. With
but minutes to evacuate their home, Abu Houli and his wife gathered
up their children and fled in the night to a nearby relative.
We could see the tracks of the bulldozer as we walked across the
soft, fertile fields. Pressed into the ground were the shattered
remains of children’s toys and books, chairs, kitchen utensils,
clothing, windows, curtains, beds.
Bonnie Gehweiler, coordinator of the Southern Methodist Volunteers
By the time we will be singing this carol again, there may be
very little of Christian Bethlehem left. Israel has already confiscated
61 percent of the Bethlehem Municipality (88,000 acres). The latest
invasion in Bethlehem began in earnest in the middle of the night
after the election of the new prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
A heavily guarded Israeli bulldozer began uprooting the centuries-old
olive groves. The huge bulldozer bit into the grounds—near
the Shepherds’ Fields where the angels heralded Jesus’
birth—throwing dusty earth over a hill. Many Palestinians
threw themselves in front of the bulldozers only to be beaten
and dragged away to jail by Israeli soldiers.
Jewish settlers in the Nablus area Monday night attacked several
Palestinian villages, uprooting and stealing grown olive trees
from Palestinian orchards. A dispatch from Nablus said armed settlers
attacked the villages of Hiwwara, Jalut, and al-Zawiay and, using
a bulldozer and electric saws uprooted hundreds of fully grown
olive trees. The settlers have caused an environmental disaster
throughout the West Bank in the last few months as they destroyed
and burned verdant Palestinian fields and orchards, often in full
view of the Israeli occupation army.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli armed forces in Netsarim knocked down
three Palestinian houses on Friday, June 22 in al Mighraka....
The Israeli bulldozers bulldozed 6 dunums [1.5 acres] of Ata and
Fadil Barhum’s land planted with olive trees. The bulldozers
also destroyed Sameer Barhum’s barn where he kept agricultural
tools, such as a water-pump. On Monday, Israeli bulldozers, protected
by Israeli army troops, opened a road between Rihan and Hrash
settlements in the district of Jenin. On Tuesday June 26, Israeli
forces and a military bulldozer knocked down five barracks in
the Palestinian villages of Bardala and Kardala in the Jordan
Valley. Palestinian farmers used the barracks for storing their
products. There was no previous warning to the demolition. At
5pm, Israeli forces set fire to [2.5 acres] of olive trees belonging
to Hasan, Qasem and Abdil Hameed Sadaqa.
Gush Shalom (www.gush-shalom.org):
The miltary government’s long-standing policy is to restrict
Palestinian construction to small enclaves, and to deny building
permits to Palestinians whose land happens to be located outside
these overcrowded designated areas.... Yesterday, four houses
were destroyed at Issawiya, just outside Jerusalem... this morning
we heard of four houses destroyed at Anata, another Palestinian
suburb of Jerusalem followed by another two at Issawiya. Just
now we heard of four houses destroyed in the Hebron area, between
the settlement of Kiryat Arba and its offshoot enclave of Givat
Haharsina. (The settlers have wanted to “get rid”
of these Arab houses, which prevent the creation of a settler
Chris Smith, freelance journalist based in Ramallah:
Home demolition and land confiscation are well-established practices
in the Occupied Territories: every Israeli government since 1967
has used them. According to a 1999 Amnesty International report,
at least 2,400 Palestinian homes were torn down in the West Bank
alone between 1987 and 1999—approximately 200 per year.
“The demolition of Palestinian houses is inextricably linked
with Israeli policy to control and colonize the West Bank,”
the report stated, adding that “construction of [settlements]
has depended not just on finding land...but on alienating it from
Douglas L. Perle, www.palestinehistory.com:
The demolition of houses in Palestinian territory, either for
security purposes (as in Rafah) or for administrative reasons
(as in the refugee camp of Shu’afat) continues. Since September
2000, over 300 homes have been completely demolished (compared
with 93 in 1999). The Special Rapporteur saw evidence of the demolition
of houses in Rafah and Shu’afat by bulldozer.... While Israel
sees this action as justified on grounds of military necessity,
Palestinians see it as part of a larger design to restrict Palestinian
growth, encourage Palestinian emigration and humiliate the people.
The creation of buffer zones for bypass roads and settlements
has resulted in the “sweeping” of large areas of agricultural
land by bulldozers. A total of 385,808 fruit and olive trees have
been uprooted, and wells and agricultural constructions destroyed.
Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against
(ICAHD); American-Israeli professor of anthropology at Ben Gurion
There can be no peace, no personal safety or normal life for us
and our children, as long as we continue to occupy the West Bank,
East Jerusalem, and Gaza. For 34 years the three million inhabitants
of the Occupied Territories have lived under Israeli military
rule. They have watched as tens of thousands of acres of their
farmland have been expropriated for Israeli settlements, roads
and military bases. While 400,000 Israelis have moved onto their
lands across the 1967 “Green Line,” the Palestinians
themselves have endured the systematic demolition of 7,000 of
their homes, leaving 50,000 people homeless. They have been brutalized,
humiliated, impoverished, imprisoned.
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