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Here is a small story that embodies the large mechanism of distortion – distortion for the purpose of eviction, displacement and denial of rights. Read how settlers tried to violently take over land by spreading lies about ownership among the police and soldiers in the area. Of course, the police did not do their job and did not put the settlers on trial. Only last Friday we received information about another incident concerning the destruction of trees in the village of Susya near Havat Maon in the South Hebron Hills. Here, too, as in most cases, the police did not make the least effort to stop the violence.
Recently, something unusual happened: we at RHR received an official announcement from the police that the settlers have no claim, as the land next to the settlement belongs to Susya, without any doubt. This did not stop the extremist settlers from trying to drive away Palestinians who were picking olives claiming that the Palestinians were squatting there, even though the land belongs to the Palestinians according to the ownership documents.
Of course, the only unusual aspect of the incident is the official recognition of the facts by a branch of the Israeli establishment – the police. Pretending to own land that belongs to others, to Palestinians, is an act that we see daily in the settlements in the territories. This is a single example of a systematic Judaization, displacement on a wide scale and an infringement on the rights of the Palestinians. Behind it lies a well-oiled machine, not individual spontaneous acts, embraced or ignored by the establishment.
In this specific case, near the settlement of Susya, the settlers tried to drive Palestinian farmers away violently from their land, claiming that the land was theirs. In the conclusion of the police investigation, it is written that the Susya settlers did not manage to provide documents proving their ownership of the land in question. In the investigation report the claims are called “groundless” and, at the end, the investigators write:”The Palestinians also presented documents of ownership of the land, and the opinion of the inspector of lands is that the land is not state land, which reinforces the version of the Palestinians.” In any case, the incident which occurred two years’ ago has not led to the trial of the settlers who trespassed. The case was closed for “lack of evidence” – evidence that is in the file, in black and white, but was repressed in the conclusion. What is trespassing if it is not going onto land that is not yours, violently?
The establishment’s cooperation with one side in the conflict, distortions, and human rights in the West Bank.
To be clear, systematic distortion is not the main problem here: Throughout history, both sides in tense national disputes have bent and still bend the truth to suit themselves, there is nothing new here, unfortunately it is a natural phenomenon affecting all parties to a dispute. The point here is different – the cooperation of the establishment with one side, especially when it distorts the facts, and the implications this has for Palestinian rights in the West Bank. These rights have been trampled on the well-oiled machine of Judaization which threatens most open areas in the West Bank, and is assisted by systematic lies of this kind in order to take over and evict more and more and ignite anger which will fuel the extremist factions (it is easy to explain away the theft as a fight against Islamic extremists). Most of these stolen lands are located in Area C, under full Israeli sovereignty. A size able number of Palestinians have been forced to leave this area due to harassment and acts of oppression and eviction like these or others, and they are displaced to the overcrowded Area A.
Declaration of the rule of law in the territories and the fact that there are no prosecutions for trespassing and violent assault.
And here, in spite of official recognition of the facts, the police – even in this case – are defending the party which tried to dispossess: there are no prosecutions against the settlers for trespassing, no prosecutions for violent assault which included stone-throwing and slashing truck tires by masked men who fled to the settlement of Susya. (One of the soldiers is quoted in the investigation as saying that he did not pursue them as he did not want to “cause a disturbance.”) And there is no prosecution of the settler who in a strange way got custody of all the olives there until the allocation of the land was clarified. (And in a way that is not strange he claimed that the olives had disappeared when he was asked by the police to return them to their Palestinian owners.)
Here is a small story which embodies in full the large mechanism of distortion, but not just distortion – distortion in order to dispossess, to evict, to infringe on rights – the rights of the owners of the land, from their right to a life of dignity to their right to civic equality without systematic institutionalized discrimination.
Watch: Only last Friday we received information about another incident concerning the destruction of trees in the village of Susya near Havat Maon in the South Hebron Hills. Here, too, as in most cases, the police did not make the least effort to stop the violence