Throughout this week, villagers whose lands have been isolated by the Wall in the northern West Bank found an Israeli military order declaring that the lands isolated behind the Wall formed a âdemarcation borderâ and prohibiting passage to these areas almost entirely. The orders, which constitute a grave and blatant next step in Israelâs illegal land grab, come at the same time that the United Nations postponed voting on a Security Council resolution regarding Israelâs Apartheid Wall.
***image1***The military order was issued on October 2nd, but villagers found it this week pinned under rocks on land west of the Wallâin the isolated/de facto annexed area where few Palestinians are able to reach. The order pertains to all communities along the Wallâs âfirst phaseâ path, from northern Jenin by Salem, where Wall construction began in June 2002, to the village Mas-ha in the Salfit district. An insufficient and inaccurate official Arabic translation by the Israeli military was attached to the original Hebrew order; the translation of the âdemarcation boarderâ as well as the following information came from the Arabic version.
The order stipulates that all crossing into the isolated areas are prohibited unless a âpermitâ from the Occupation âCivil Administrationâ is obtained, which can only be done by land owners who âproveâ that they have land residing behind the Wall or are âofficially registeredâ workers. Also specified in the order is the banning of children less than 16 years of age from the lands, unless their name appears on a permit with a parent.
If farmers and residents were to apply for âpermitsâ the well-grounded reality is that they would be unattainable as Israeli soldiers are stating they do not recognize Jordanian land certificatesâwhich compromise the majority of certificates issued as land registration in the West Bank took place under Jordanian rule prior to the 1967 Occupation. However, most farmers affected by the Wall are refusing to acknowledge Israelâs strangling permit system as well as âcompensation offersâ as they do not want to give it legitimacy. Moreover, the farmers believe that they should not need permits to reach their own property and state that applying for these permits would equate it to being âIsraeli landââwhich the military orders declare.
Since access to the lands has been nearly impossible, many communities erected tents on their isolated land in order to continue tending to their crops–now they are being expelled from their land entirely as the military order bars this completely claiming the area as a âclosed military zoneâ and where only Israeli citizens are allowed. For those families whose home is located behind the Wall, they are being forced to provide documents indicating that they have resided in their house for at least two years.
The military order does not create a new or surprising situation for residents along the Wall as they have been predominantly unable to access their land prior to and increased with the Wallâs âcompletionâ. What the order does craft is a âgroundsâ upon which the Israeli forces will be carrying out massive arrests and shootings on people who are in the isolated area, such actions are already happening in several communities. Furthermore, such orders are often used as âexpulsion toolsâ to amplify fear among residents about whether and how they will be able to exist upon their landâand if their plight might be improved if they left.
Jayyus and Azzun residents were among the first to find the horrifying documents on their landâit is unknown if all the communities are yet aware of this latest measure, which means the nearing finalization of Israelâs land theft in this area. While internationally the Apartheid Wall is being discussed and debated under unpromising resolutions, Israel is advancing the reality of dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians and reshaping the West Bank through the Apartheid Wall.
This latest military order places in writing the fate of over 60 communities, with a population of some 210,000 people, in four of the eleven West Bank districts, which are being dispossessed of their land which lies west of the Wall.
To read an English translation of the military order from the Negotiation Affairs Department/Palestine Liberation Organization click here.