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First Victory At The Israeli Supreme Court

First Victory At The Israeli Supreme Court For Villagers

PRESS REPORT: High Court orders all work on Wall suspended for one week near all villages in Biddu, Beit Surik area

Last week's demonstrations (two Palestinians shot dead, an elderly man dead of a heart attack caused by tear gas inhalation and a fourth in intensive care, comatose with a bullet wound to his head) led to a Petition being filed by the Popular Committee to Resist the Wall in the NW Jerusalem region in the Supreme Court last Thursday.

The hearing took place this morning; the Court will again hear the matter next Sunday, March 7th at 8.00 a.m. The judges, led by Aharon Barak, issued an order to the Israel military to cease work for seven days on all sites where bulldozers worked last week.

They ordered the Army to hold hearings with all villagers objecting to the route of the "fence", something which until now they have not done; the judges asked why in the two months since confiscation orders were issued (three military jeeps left the orders on the ground on village roads in December), villagers had not responded to orders giving them 7 days to object.

Adv. Mohammed Dahle, on their behalf, said villagers had been unable to get land deeds, etc. from the Occupation's Civil Administration and other Israeli bureaucracies – who had told them such a process would take "months".

The judges also ordered the Israeli military to show villagers maps of the "fence" route, so they could know what exactly is being forced on them and how it will affect them. Apparently, the Israeli military had postponed meetings on various occasions recently with lawyers and villagers; the impression being that the Army was reluctant to meet or issue a conclusive map, which they say they prefer not to do because of "security".

Biddu, Beit Surik, Qattana, Al Qubeiba, Beit Anan, Beit Lekiya, Beit Duqqu and Beit Ijza villagers stand to lose 51,650 dunums of land, most of it outside the enclave, or prison, they will be trapped in. Two villages, Nebi Samuel and Beit Iksa, will also lose land to the Wall. Dahle said these land losses are not just a symptom of the Wall, villages have been constantly losing land for the past three years, due to settlement expansion.

They will also lose all eight water wells vital to their existence in summer. Their story, as Mohammed Dahle told the Supreme Court this morning, will be the same as Qalqilya's. A ghetto. Locked in on all sides by a Wall and "settlers only" Apartheid Road 443.

Israeli residents of Mevasseret Zion, the Israeli town neighbouring Beit Surik, but within the Green Line (1967, pre-Occupation borders) asked to join the Palestinians petitioning against the Wall. A group there says they want the barrier built on their land, as they are not farmers; they do not wish their neighbours to lose all their agricultural land and their only means of existence. Today's Ha'aretz front page talks of a revised "fence" route proposed to U.S. envoys visiting Israel 10 days ago. And the Hague judges deliberate. And the Supreme Court considers HaMoked's petition against the Wall. Meanwhile, the villagers of these tranquil villages – which have never produced any bombers - pray for justice.

For further details:

UNOCHA map showing fence route (zoom to 400%) at: http://www.reliefweb.int/w/fullMaps_Sa.nsf/luFullMap/6CEE3AF53B1E22A285256D= D4005D8B1E/$File/hic_optWBclos041103.pdf?OpenElement

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