Trial of ISM olive grove defenders begins

Trial begins for ISM Volunteers accused of interfering and entering Closed Military Zone (protesting uprooting of olive trees)

The trial of Neta Golan and Shelly Nativ, Israeli citizens and members of the International Solidarity Movement, opened this morning in Hashalom court house in Kfar Saba. The two are accused of blocking IDF bulldozers in the village Dir Istya near Salfit to prevent them from uprooting Palestinian olive trees. Golan and Nativ are charged with interfering with police work, interfering with a public servant’s work (the bulldozer driver) and disobeying a decree of “closed military zone”.

The incident happened near the beginning of the recent Intifada, in April 2001, when IDF forces had begun to uproot the olive groves of Deir Istya. Neta Golan and Shelly Nativ were part of a group of international and Israeli peace activists who traveled to Deir Istya on invitation from the villagers. The activists chained themselves to the trees an hour before the bulldozers arrived to uproot olive trees. The destruction of trees was halted only at the last moment when the blades of the bulldozers were very close to the chained activists bodies.

Policemen and soldiers demanded that the two ISM volunteers vacate the premises, but they refused. The demolition work was stopped for a few hours until the police brought tools to cut the metal chains and arrested the activists.

Tens of thousands of trees have been uprooted by Israeli military personel and settlers in the occupied territories in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which condemns both the use of collective punishment and the destruction of public and private property of an occupied population.

After the indictment was read in court, advocate Shamai Leibowitz stated to the court that “My clients are not criminals — on the contrary, they showed good citizenship by trying to prevent a felony. The public servants were trying to uproot trees without permission and without the legal authority to do so. The state is not entitled to trespass on private property and just like that uproot trees belonging to the habitants. My clients are not the criminals, the soldiers and bulldozer drivers are the criminals. The accused enjoy the ‘Defense of Necessity’ which prevents the conviction of a person acting to thwart infliction of damage to his property or the property of others,” said the attorney.

The trial will continue on September 2nd, at 11:30 hours, and will be heard by Judge Niza Maimon-Shashoua in Hashalom courthouse in Kfar Saba.

For further details:
064-405783 Neta Golan
054-547989 Shelly Nativ
03-6704170 Shamai Leibowitz
056-709603 Adam Keller

To dial from outside the country, start with your International Direct Dialing code (“011” from the US, “00” from many other countries) followed by the country code, “972”, and then drop the initial “0” from the numbers above.