uprooting trees

by tobybee

to build a wall, a wall that divides people, that scars land, one needs to clear space. what to do when there is a family living in the way, a family that has a garden and olive trees and space for children to play? change where the wall will go? rethink the very idea of the wall? no, not if you’re the israeli army. if you’re the israeli army, you merely cut down the trees, take the playspace, drag away protestors, and work to build the wall so it is a mere two metres from the house’s back door. this is what is happening to a family in Beit Jala. Here is the information, via New Profile’s elist:

In the early morning on March 2, 2010, Israeli bulldozers started uprooting ancient
olive trees in the garden of a Palestinian family in the town of Beit Jala,
North-West of Bethlehem, in order to make room for the construction of yet another
section of the Apartheid Wall. Wednesday morning, the family, which had already lost
a significant portion of its lands when Israel seized them to build the “by-pass
road” 60 that connects the equally illegal settlements, found the little playground
for the children in the garden destroyed and three olive trees directly in front of
the house chopped off. A red cross was painted two meters away from the front door
to signal where the Wall is designed to pass. The remaining olive trees had been
marked with yellow-tags, to be uprooted another day.

More markings on remaining trees and on the ground announce that soon, the family
might lose the rest of its remaining land including the sight of its destroyed
playground, and live immediately facing the massive grey concrete Wall.

Between March 2 and March 3, the bulldozers uprooted an overall of 70 olive trees on
the lands of the family and their neighbors, rapidly creating facts on the ground
before lawyers could challenge the most recent of a series of confusing orders
designed to “legalize” the ongoing land theft under Israeli law. According to
Israel’s most recent plan, this section of the Wall would seize another 280,9 dunums
of Palestinian land on the property of 35 families.

On March 3, the al-Ma’sara Popular Committee and the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem
mobilized a group of Palestinian, international and Israeli activists to attempt to
physically stop the bulldozers from continuing their work. Dozens of soldiers,
security personal and border police officers spend two hours pushing and dragging
the activists up the hill and away from the operating bulldozers, and finally
produced an order to arrest anyone remaining on the family’s land after 9a.m.

Today, on March 4, a group of activists was again mobilized to arrive in the early
morning hours to protect the remaining olive trees. One activist chained himself to
an ancient tree marked for removal, while others formed clusters around this and
other trees. As soldiers and police officers gathered on the scene, activists
chanted slogans against the Wall and the occupation and replanted two uprooted
trees.

After a few hours, the activists learned that a legal decision had been reached that
effectively prohibits any further uprooting until the next court order is ruled.
Expecting this impending order, activists continue to prepare for further
intervention in case that the bulldozers resume their work.

For more information, see
http://imemc.org/index.php?obj_id=53&story_id=58119 (3.3.10)
http://imemc.org/index.php?obj_id=53&story_id=58128 (4.3.10)
http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=265693 (4.3.10)

Or see the report by Shai H:

Already when driving on route 60, we saw the intimidating bulldozers riding on the
side of the road on their way to another day of “putting facts on the ground” as
chiefs of the Israeli government call it. As we arrived in Beit Jalla, a
heart-breaking scene came into view – a huge pile of sawed trees and olive and lemon
branches spread all across the yard of the house next to the wall’s path. A yard it
cannot really be called anymore – the grass is turned over, two children’s swings
were uprooted and put aside, and the only thing left standing is a brick oven, with
mounds of dirt and mud all around it. 10 olive trees were cut down here already
yesterday. A red X on the front floor of the house marks the path of the wall to
pass here, which will seize the whole yard area and cut the only access driveway to
it. It’s hard to imagine how life would look like in this place in a week or two.
We were 45 protesters – 25 Palestinians, 15 international activists and 4 Israelis.
We descended to the works path trying to stop the bulldozers. A group of twenty
soldiers prevented us from doing so, and began pushing us up the hill without
showing a closed military area order as they are required. While the bulldozer’s
claws were uprooting trees one after the other, we explained to the officers that
their actions violate numerous international laws, as well as the fact that they may
not tell us to move without the order. We were pushed up the hill a few more meters
to where we sat on the ground demanding to see a printed order before we move any
further. At 08:53 they brought the papers and the officers declared the area will
become a “closed military zone” within 7 minutes. One of them held two stun grenades
with a nasty grin on his face. We reminded them again that constructing the wall on
West Bank lands is a crime according to international law, as well as the
settlers-only road which it “protects” and that they still may put down their guns
and join us. A bearded IDF captain told us that the only law he follows is the
biblical law. Rabbai Arik Ascherman referred him to to read the chapter in the book
of Deuteronomy which refers to uprooting of fruit trees.
At 09:00 precisely they started pushing and dragging us up the hill again. 2
Israelis and one international activist were detained for a few minutes and were
released shortly thereafter. Two Arab TV network reporters stationed on the upper
road to report the events. Two young women from Beit Jalla were prominent among the
protesters. As one of the officers told on of them them “Min fadlak, ruch min hon”
(Please go away from here), she replied wisely “Min fadlak, ruch leIsrail” (Please,
go back to Israel), with her finger pointing north-west.
When we left, the bulldozers were still working with all their might.

and here is the video of the protest, and the protestors being dragged away.

In the footage you can see the wall in the background, you can see that it is a fact, that it already exists, and there is a certain helplessness to the protest. You know, watching them, that these trees will be taken, that this family will lose so much, that the wall will continue to be built. as if it all was nothing. so many people have to collude to make this wall exist, and they continue to do so. because they all have their jobs, their small parts to play. and so it goes.

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