Along with the International Campaign to Stop the Jewish National Fund, Stop The Wall Campaign, the Palestinian Farmers’ Union, the Land Defense Coalition and the municipality of Aqraba organized a day of voluntary work to plant olive trees in Khirbet Twaiel, east of Aqraba in Nablus district. Khirbet Twaiel is targeted for destruction and evacuation by the occupation forces and is suffering repeated settler attacks. Last year, Israeli forces have come eight times to destroy houses and animals shelters in the community.
This activity was organized to mark the anniversary of 114 years since the founding of the Jewish National Fund. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established in 1901 with the specific aim of acquiring land in Palestine for the “exclusive use” of persons of Jewish “faith”, “race” or “ancestry” only. The JNF has exercised that function by driving indigenous Palestinians from their homes and off their ancestral lands to make way for Jewish only areas. The JNF has as well funded the Zionist militant gangs that were acting in Palestine before and during the creation of Israel in 1948 and which killed 15 000 Palestinians and destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and expelled its people. The Fund still works to erase the traces of the destroyed villages and finances the settlemetn movement in the occupied territories in 67.The JNF today has branches in over 50 countries around the world and in many countries is registered as a charitable organization, which allows tax-deductable donations and therefore provides direct government support to the crimes carried out by the JNF.
The activity included the planting of 114 trees. Each tree was given a name of a Palestinian village that was destroyed and whose population has been expelled with the support of the JNF.
Over 150 people from the village of Aqraba, including the mayor, and representatives of Stop the Wall’s popular committees from other districts of the West Bank participated in the activity. The trees have been planted in different locations of Twaiel, including in the lands were the local mosque was before the Israeli occupation forces destroyed it and in lands that the Israeli Occupation forces have declared military training areas and on spots where homes of people from Twaiel had been located before they have been demolished.
The activity included as well a gathering where community leaders addressed the participants and stressed the need to continue the popular activities to protect the land from the settlements and settler attacks.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, who participated in the activity, underlined the urgency of enhancing the effectiveness of popular resistance as a central strategy in the struggle against the Israeli ilegal settlement project and to protect the land. He called on the Palestinian authorities to allocate financial support to support the steadfastness of the people on their land.
The Land Defense Coalition and the Stop the Wall Campaign said that this is the third year that the movements are planting trees in this occasion to oppose land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies. He announced as well that Khirbet Twaiel is one of three locations in which the Land Defense Coalition will organize such activities during January 2015. Juma stressed the need for wider popular participation in this activities. He expected that 2015 will be the year of the struggle to protect the land and stop ethnic cleansing. Dozens of agricultural communities like Khirbet Twaiel, and Bedouin communities living in what is considered since the Oslo Accords ‘Area C’ are being threatened by these criminal policies.