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Hava Halevi, Avital Toch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

The Jewish holidays are upon us and there are renovations and work on the gate to the compound. A few months after the completion of the entrance facility, with its upgraded security and high walls creating a labyrinth that first separates people then throws them into a large yard, it turned out that the planning left a lot to be desired, so now we watch the construction of shining new turnstiles, which will presumably be accompanied by the construction of new fenced tunnels. [I suggest the army use the fences of Anata, which are in mint condition and at present are being dismantled, after only one year].

Two trials awaited us today, each with its unique attributes.

Adeeb Ahmad Hassan Abu Rahma, ID 954902771, resident of Bil'in.

We reported on his arrest and trial in our website: See under Ofer on the following dates:

23.8.09, 15.9.09, 17.9.09, 25.10.09, 22.11.09, 21.4.10.

For reports on the arrests of residents of Bil'in and Ni'ilin, see Amira Hass's article,


For a summery of the history of the village and articles on the subject see Wikipedia:


Judge: Lieut.-Col. Aharon Mishnayot (President of Military Court)

Prosecutor: Legal officer Eran Levi

Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati (of Gaby Lasky law firm)

Present in the court were Adeeb Abu Rahma's wife and daughter.

The long trial of Adeeb Abu Rahma (40 years old father of 9) ended in July with his conviction on a charge of incitement. He was sentenced to one year in jail (which coincided with the year he had already spent in detention) and one year suspended sentence. He was supposed to be released on that day, but the prosecution immediately filed an appeal, and the court, in a very unusual move, remanded him in custody. As far as judicial practice inside Israel goes, this is an extremely rare decision, but this is another country. Since the security forces failed to prove violent behavior (despite their use of tortured minors and other tricks and photographs to incriminate him), the army whipped up the ‘incitement' clause and applied it to Palestinian peace activists. It turns out that incitement to throw rocks is a worse crime than actually throwing rocks. Besides, ‘incitement' changes its meaning when the residents of the Territories protest the theft of their land (which the High Court of Justice ruled illegal) and vague testimony by incriminators about participation in demonstrations is considered proof. Protests and demonstrations by settlers, on the other hand, are all legitimate.

The defense lodged a detailed, complex appeal, covering various charges, evidence and decisions, which may impact other cases brought before this court. The appeal was heard a week and a half ago, but it will take time for the panel of judges to hand down their decision (and it should be remembered that until then Adeeb continues to sit in jail). The defense stresses that deprivation of liberty is the harshest penalty a person may sustain. It is very wrong to deprive a person - and one with no prior record! - of freedom once that person has finished his jail time. The defense requests an alternative to incarceration.

While the trial drags on and on, through summer, Ramadan, fall, winter, spring, summer and another Ramadan, Adeeb has completed his jail sentence, yet he is still in jail. The attorneys ask to release him so he can celebrate the end of Ramadan with his family, before the court hands down its decision.

The decision was given the next day:

No release. If there is no decision on the appeal, there will be another hearing in 45 days.

The second hearing we observed centered on land belonging to the villages of Qaryut and Jalud, forcibly appropriated by their neighbors, the settlers of Shvut Rachel. The Civil Administrationinfo-icon ordered the settlers to evacuate those lands and the settlers appealed to military court.

The respondents, the Palestinians, were represented by lawyers belonging to "Rabbis for Human Rights". The hearing took place before an appeals commission of the Military Court. The case involves two plots, 84 and 42 dunams, belonging to the villages of Qaryut and Jalud respectively.

In 2007 Shvut Rachel settlers took over the land and began tilling it. The Civil Administration, which has authority to evacuate trespassers only in cases when the seizure happened less than 5 years earlier, issued an eviction order to the settlers, who promptly appealed to the military court, claiming that they had been there for more than five years, thus the military commander has no authority to evacuate them.

It is important to note that the Ottoman law, which obtains in the area, stipulates that all the land belongs to the state. However, if a person tills the land continuously for ten years, a ‘legal obsolescence' applies and not even the court can evict him/her. The settlers took over the land less than five years ago, yet they appealed to the military court against the commander of the Civil Administration; their aim is to prove that they have been cultivating the disputed land for a long enough period to warrant that army won't be evicted. The appeal proceedings started on 6.7.10 and have now reached the evidentiary stage with  witnesses to be interrogated.


Shvut Rachel is a settlement/outpost comprising about 110 families. It was set up in October 1991 as a hilltop outpost, a kilometer away from the established settlement of Shiloh. The outposts are in essence "branches" that an established settlement sets up on surrounding hills - as far away as possible - so as to build up houses and facilities for what is officially dubbed "natural expansion". Thus, Shiloh, and the ever expanding Shvut Rachel outpost, two large settlements, sent out more "branches" to the surrounding area: Adei Ad, Mitzpe Ahiya, Esh-Kodesh, Kida, which together strangle the Palestinian villages.

Shvut Rachel is adjacent to the Palestinian Qaryut and Jalud, and this appeals process gives us a true picture of what happens when those land robbers roam free on the hills and dales.

The appeals panel in Judea-Samaria:

Chair: Major Dalia Kaufman

Associate: Sgt.-Major Eyal Nun

Associate: Captain Uri Keidar

First Appellant: "Eretz Zayit Shemen Muvhar Inc. (Excellent Olive Oil). Present is the general manager Yair Hirsch.

Second Appellant: Boaz Melet, represented by Atty. Doron Nir-Zvi.


1. Head of the Civil Administration, represented by Atty. Rani Amar.

2. Fawzi Ibrahim Muhammad, represented by Atty. Kamar Masharki Assad and Atty. Zvi Avni of Rabbis for Human Rights.

The first witness today is Harel Hetzroni from Shvut Rachel, wearing a flowing "Talit Katan" (fringe undergarment) over his clothes. He is here to testify that the first settler to occupy the land, Boaz Melet, and the company that "inherited" it from him, "Shemen Ahiya", have been cultivating the area for a long time. Hetzroni is in a position to know how long the settlers - first Boaz Melet, then the producers of pure olive oil - have been cultivating this land. This is the crux of the matter.

His frequent trips on the roads introduce him to the tillers of the land, who are exclusively settlers. "I stop off by those guys from my village; I see them work there." He often meets Boaz Melet, who grows wheat and sunflowers, and with vintners and olive growers from "Meshek Ahiya" whose official name is "Eretz Zayit Shemen Muvhar". With the same ease he states that he was not actually present in the place itself, since his many occupations take him far away: "In the years 93,94, 96, I was busy doing other things so I was not often in the village and did not see everything that went on there, if we're specifically talking... I was secretary of Rehelim, where I spent most of my time." He was security officer (or deputy) of Shevut Rachel. "This was around 1996..."  Before Rehelim he served as cook at Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva, and from 2000 on he has served as manager of "Hetzroni's Zula" a club for at-risk youths in Jerusalem, a job that requires him to be far away from the stolen fields and groves during the nights.

When asked when Boaz Melet started working there and when was the land acquired by "Ahia" he reiterates that during the last years when the acquisition was effected he had been outside the village, and his information about the changed ownership comes from seeing people other than Boaz Melet in those fields. "I did not witness it because I was away from the village most of the time."

Harel Hetzroni signed an affidavit specifying exactly how the land was divided among different owners, but his answers reveal that he is ignorant of the details in the document he signed. As he said, "Don't nitpick with me if say 1998 instead of 2008..."

(Female) Judge: We are wondering...

(Male) Judge: The question here is who, and when, entered the fields. We have not seen any documents indicating purchase...

The second witness is Sergeant-Major Stein from the Civil Administration, head of Coordination and Communication Department in Ramallah.

At this point we left the court and the following report is taken from the protocol:

The witness described the settlements and the building of many (unauthorized) outposts whose purpose is to create "a territorial continuum" of settlements in the Shiloh Valley, which is embroiled in numerous territorial conflicts... so much so that in 2007 the Civil Administration began to escort Palestinian farmers to their plots so they could till those lands which are not disputed. " How can Palestinians reach their lands when they are surrounded by four illegal outposts? Add to that the fact that Palestinians' movements are greatly restricted. The Civil Administration officer acknowledges that he is aware of settlers' incursions into Palestinian lands and destruction of crops, but unfortunately these attacks continue to this day.

Of particular interest is the detailed report by the officer on the way in which the administration checks ownership of land by Palestinians in cases of disputed ownership - including the examination of documents and the ages of olive trees.

There ensued a lengthy discussion with the settlers' attorney regarding the witness's proficiency in aerial photography: how do you determine who tills the land and what crops grow there. But the main point of the trial was the blatant and brazen haggling with the authorities and the attempt to enlist the law in order to defend a shameless barefaced land grab.

The testimonies will continue on 3.10.10.