On Saturday, 23 February, the Israeli military head of Central Command, Gadi Shamni, issued a new military order (183/05) for the confiscation of 766 dunam (a dunam is 1000 square meters) of Palestinian land belonging to families from the West Bank towns of Adh-Dhahiriya, Dura and Ar-Ramadin, located to the southwest of Hebron. The land is situated on Wadi Fatas and the Khirbet Annab hills.
The confiscation order falls under the Israeli defined category of “border adjustment.” The land is to be used to build a security wall around the Eshkolot settlement. One way to establish facts on the ground is to annex this land to the non-fixed boundaries of Israel.
Israeli authorities handed copies of the military order to Palestinian farmers. The orders were left on the ground, in front of their homes, and no Palestinian authorities received prior information about this. This is the policy Israel uses to negate any legal partner on the other side, demonstrating yet again who is the occupying power and who are the occupied.
Abdulhadi Hantash, land expert and member of Land Defense General Committee, reported to us that “studying the military order and comparing it to a map, I found that not 766 but more than 900 dunam of land will be confiscated for the route of the Wall, and an additional 2400 dunam will fall behind the Separation Wall, which de facto means it has been confiscated.”
As past experience demonstrates, in the beginning the Israeli military will build a gate, requiring permits and licenses from the owners of the land behind the Wall to enter and farm it. After a while, it will become increasingly difficult for the farmers to get the permits—for security reasons, the military will claim—until the land becomes neglected and will be lost. Once abandoned, the land will be defined as Israeli state land, thus providing the possibility for surrounding settlements to expand freely.
The owners of the land affected by military order 183/05, the Zagharna, Jamma’een and Sawa’da families from the Ar-Ramadin village, and Amer, Zamil, Abu Shaikha and Hijja from Dura, have legal certifications proving their ownership. But this will not be enough to help them.
According to the military order, they have seven days, after the Israeli Civil Administration makes a tour of the lands, to appeal to the court and request annulment of the order. The date of implementation of the order is to be from 22
February to 31 July 2008. This method of ordering the implementation in a fixed and contracted timeframe is intended to limit the possibility for a legal process by the Palestinian families affected to be sufficiently carried out.
Furthermore, the route of the Wall will be very close to the Palestinian houses of the area, badly affecting their future. That means that not only will the families have Israeli soldiers very close to them and controlling their movements at all times, but that they will also risk a demolition order being served if the Israeli authorities decide one day that their house is too close to the Wall. The villages will be prevented from expanding, so that the new families will be forced to move eastward, helping Israel in its goal of pushing Palestinians to leave their land.
The owners of the targeted lands are ready to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, but they know how difficult it is, and how, in Israel, a military order is much more powerful than any other kind of law, such that any violation of international and humanitarian laws will be silently accepted by the Israeli legal system.
Creating de facto annexation of Palestinian land, Israel is continuing to violate the inalienable right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, leaving them without hope for their future.