When we met Ibrahim Rabaya, 45, from Irtas, he insisted that first of all we had to mention in his testimony that he would never give up his land, which has been stolen by the Occupation`s confiscation policies. “They have seized my land by force!" – he repeated throughout the entire meeting to assure us that he and his family never gave up the land despite all the temptations and threats they received from the Occupation.



The family’s land is located in an area that overviews Bethlehem and Jerusalem and in the line of the expansion of the Gush Ezion settlement bloc. For years, the Occupation has seen the takeover of this land as a priority. “Since 1967, the Zionists have put pressure on us to sell the land. They sent brokers to us and said they will pay us whatever amount of money we may demand from them for the land. But they didn`t achieve their goal. We will never sell our land to the Occupation.”



Of the 330 dunums of land that Ibrahim owns, 150 dunums were confiscated in 2000 by the Occupation forces for the expansion of Efrat settlement.



“Since the first construction of Efrat settlement on the land of Irtas and al-Khader, we have seen this settlement expanding day by day onto our land and other lands of the village. So we decided to plant it with trees.” The Occupation regulations allow confiscation of all uncultivated land. Facing the threat of confiscation, Palestinian farmers cultivate and claim their lands against the Occupation as a form of resistance.

Ibrahim and his wife spent all their savings to prepare and plant their land. “We planted it with all kinds of almonds and grapes. We used to get our daily expenses from its fruits,” remembers Ibrahim`s wife. “My husband works as a policeman but his salary is only 1500 shekels and so the fruits of this land should have allowed us to give our children a good education in the future. But they took it from us. They stole it when they realized that we would never sell it to them.” The 150 dunums are now isolated from the family. It has been swallowed by the Zionist settlement and is surrounded by a fence.



“When the settlers saw us on our land, they would come to kick us off of it. They always claimed that this land is for ‘Israel’ and that we don't have a place here. We should go and live in Jordan or any other place.” The settlers continuously threatened Ibrahim`s family with guns or beat them up when they could get hold of them on their land. Many times the land was devastated by rubbish thrown on their land. Yet Zionism`s machinery of land theft, colonization and brutal repression wasn’t able to break the determination of Ibrahim’s family to remain on their land at whatever cost.



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“When we cultivated our land, many times they tried to shoot at us but I never left the land. Now the Wall is forcing me to leave it.” The Occupation issued confiscation orders for the remainder of Ibrahim`s land. The footprint of the Wall will take 162 dunums of his land and even more land will be taken for the Occupation`s patrol roads along the Wall. All that will be left are small and isolated bits and pieces of land on which no agriculture will be possible anymore.



“All the land that I inherited from my father and which I bought from my sister will be lost. All the efforts and money I put into it to care for it, to claim it and plant it will be destroyed. They didn't succeed in buying it, so they stole it. They want to expel us not only from this piece of land but from all of Palestine. This time, they won't do it through massacres like in 1948. They found another way: they steal our lands, demolish our houses and put us in ghettos. After that, we will not find any way to feed our children. We shall die or leave Palestine - that’s their policy.”





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