29 February 2004
Last week’s demonstrations, in which two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers, an elderly man died of a heart attack caused by tear gas inhalation and a fourth in intensive care, comatose with a bullet wound to his head, led to a petition filed in the Israeli Supreme Court last Thursday. The hearing took place this morning and the Court will again hear the matter next Sunday.
The judges, led by Aharon Barak, issued an order to the IDF to cease work for seven days on all sites where bulldozers worked last week. They ordered the Israeli army to hold hearings with all villagers objecting to the Wall’s route, something which until now they have been unable to do; the judges asked why in the two months since confiscation orders were issued — three IDF jeeps left the orders on the ground on village roads in December — villagers had not responded to orders giving them 7 days to object. Adv. Mohammed Dahle, on their behalf, said villagers had been unable to get land deeds from the Civil Administration and other Israeli authorities – who had told them such a process would take “months”.
The judges also ordered the IDF to show villagers maps of the Wall’s route, so they could know what exactly is being forced on them and how it will affect them. Apparently, the IDF had postponed meetings on various occasions recently with lawyers and villagers; the impression is the IDF was reluctant to meet or issue a conclusive map, which they say they prefer not to do because of “security”.
Biddu, Beit Souriq, Qattana, Al Qubeiba, Beit Anan, Beit Lekiya, Beit Duqqu and Beit Ijza villagers stand to lose 51,650 dunums of land, most of it outside the enclave, or prison, they will be trapped in. Two villages, Nebi Samuel and Beit Iksa, will also lose land in the Wall zone. Dahle said these land losses are not just a symptom of the Wall, villages have been constantly losing land for the past three years, due to settlement expansion. They will also lose all eight water wells vital to their existence in summer. Their story, as Mohammed Dahle told the Supreme Court this morning, will be the same as Qalqilya’s. A ghetto. Locked in on all sides by the wall and “settler’s only” Apartheid Road 443.
Israeli residents of Mevasseret Zion, the Israeli town neighbouring Beit Sourik, but within the Green Line asked to join the Palestinians petitioning against the wall. A group there says they want the Wall built on their land, as they are not farmers; they do not wish their neighbours to lose all their agricultural land and their only means of existence.