January 25, 2002
HEBRON: Further Land Confiscation in Hebron's Beqa'a Valley.
By Nathan Bender and Dianne Roe
During the past ten days CPT has documented massive land confiscation by
the Israeli military accompanied by settlement and road construction in the
Baqa'a valley east of Hebron, on both sides of bypass road # 60. The
families facing the loss of their land have a long relationship with CPT
and with Israeli and North American partners participating in the Campaign
for Secure Dwellings. Most of the residents of the valley are subsistence
farmers for whom loss of land means loss of all hope.
On January 21, several families in that area blocked the bulldozer that was
tearing up their land a few meters away from their houses on top of one of
the hills east of road #60 in the village of Al Odisah. CPTers Dianne Roe,
Claire Evans, Nathan Bender and two internationals went to the site in
response to a call by a Palestinian friend who had heard shooting in the
area. Upon arriving at the scene they saw approximately forty unarmed
residents gathered on their land in front of the bulldozer, while two
soldiers and one armed settler guarded the bulldozer from behind. Israeli
soldiers in jeeps were positioned along the bulldozer tracks nearby.
The team learned that earlier in the afternoon Israeli settlers from the
nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba had confronted the villagers. Shots had
been fired to frighten the Palestinians. A young Palestinian man told
Bender that a fifteen-year-old Palestinian girl had gone to the hospital
after a physical altercation with one of the settlers. Later in the
afternoon, an Israeli Armed Personnel Carrier entered the area and
positioned itself next to the house above the bulldozer.
CPTers Greg Rollins and Brenda and Rich Meyer, revisited the area on
January 24 and talked with several of the families. Abu Mahmoud (not his
real name) looked across road #60 at his brother's land on Sultan
Mountain. On the previous day a new settler mobile home had been placed on
the top of the mountain. CPTers watched a crane moving water tanks to the
mountaintop. Bulldozer tracks totally encircled Abu Mahmoud's home. He
said that the area's military commander told him the week before that his
house is on Israeli state land and that he would have to leave.
Two years ago, armed settlers from Kiryat Arba surrounded Abu Mahmoud's
home and demanded that it be demolished. CPT and Israeli activists arrived
at the site, and were able to summon international pressure on the Israeli
military to protect Abu Mahmoud's land from the settlers. The Israeli
military then told Abu Mahmoud that they would protect his house only if he
no longer talked with journalists, CPT, Israelis, or internationals. Now
two years later, under the Sharon government, the military is taking the