naturalfeature:hebron hills

  • A Palestinian vineyard annihilated with chainsaws, with a chilling message in Hebrew
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | May 24, 2018 | 6:53 PM

    The grapes are shriveled. The vineyard is dead. Reduced to a large, dried-out, yellowing stain in the heart of the verdant region along Highway 60 where the road runs past the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron. The “yellow wind” that David Grossman wrote about 30 years ago is a dying vineyard here. Two plots of land, with hundreds of vines that were slashed, their stems and shoots sawed off – and within a week everything here had withered and died.

    This is a particularly horrible sight because all the damage was wrought by the hand of man. A wicked, loathsome hand that hates not only Arabs but despises the land itself. In fact, we can assume that it wasn’t just one individual who raided and destroyed this vineyard late Tuesday night last week. To saw off that many plants in such a short time requires a few pairs of nasty hands. And someone also had to smear the threatening words in Hebrew on a rock: “We will reach everywhere.” All before first light illuminated the dark deed.

    When dawn broke, the owner of the vineyard, Dr. Haitham Jahshan, a hematologist, arrived and couldn’t believe his eyes. His vines had been ravaged. First he saw one sawed trunk, then another and another – a sea of butchered vines, whose grapes were grown to be eaten, not for wine – until the full scale of the calamity hit home.

    For his part, Musa Abu Hashhash, a field researcher for the B’Tselem human rights organization, says he’s never seen an act of so-called agricultural crime on this scale.

    When we visited on Monday, Highway 60 was as busy as ever: As the major traffic artery running the length of the West Bank, it serves both Palestinians and settlers. The vineyard lies right next to the road, which has very narrow shoulders at that point. West of the highway looms a fortified Israel Defense Forces observation tower, an Israeli flag flapping above it, where soldiers are present day and night to protect all the local residents and safeguard their property. A network of security cameras covers the road from all directions – yet apparently no one saw anything on that night last week, no one heard the insidious infiltrators or the sounds of the sawing.

    The butchery was obviously done with electric saws – the cuts are precise and sharp, from trunk to trunk, from shoot to shoot, nothing was left untouched, probably to ensure that nothing would remain. Almost all the slashing was done at the same height, about 40 centimeters (15 inches) above ground. A professional job. Many of the trunks look whole, but on closer examination, they too turn out to be cleaved. Some sway between heaven and earth, hanging in space, cut off from their bottom sections and roots. Wounded, scarred, cut in two – nearly 400 slashed vines, according to the owner, Jahshan.

    We follow him, bending over as we pass through row upon row of truncated vines, beneath a ceiling of low iron lattices on which they are tangled and twined. There’s no way to raise your head here, no way to stand up. The soil is clear of stones and has been plowed: Those tending the land here turned the earth over using an all-terrain vehicle on the day after the spoliation, hoping a miracle would occur and the vineyard would begin to revive itself. But the miracle hasn’t happened. It’s clear now that it will be necessary to uproot the entire vineyard and to plant a new one in its place. It will then take three to five years for the first fruits to appear, and some 15 years – the age of the destroyed vineyard – for the crop to reach its optimal yield.

    Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, and so did Dr. Jahshan.

    Though he lives in Halhoul today, Jahshan, 42, studied medicine in Jordan and from 1999 to 2006 did his residency in hematology and molecular genetics at the Hadassah Medical Center and the Herzog Medical Center, both in Jerusalem. Now he runs a blood-disease clinic at Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, but also devotes time to working the land from which his family earns a living. The vineyard covered five dunams, 1.25 acres – 5,000 square meters, he explains.

    During the days that passed between the mutilation of the vineyard and our visit, everything withered, shriveled up. The leaves crumble between one’s fingers, the buds have been reduced to dust. This week’s hot, dry winds finished everything off.

    On his cellphone, Jahshan shows us a photograph of the vineyard from last week, on the day after the assault: still green, like the vineyards to the left and right of his property.

    Last Tuesday, Jahshan, together with his father, uncle and two of his brothers, sprayed the vineyard with pesticides, working from early in the morning until the early evening. They didn’t manage to complete the job and decided to return at first light. They left at about 6 that evening and were back at 6 the next morning – only to be dumbstruck by a sight that they will never forget.

    An empty bag of chocolate milk from the Kibbutz Yotvata dairy lies on the ground amid the vines; perhaps the vandals drank chocolate milk as they savaged the vineyard, sucking and slashing. Their car must have been parked on the narrow shoulders of the highway, visible to everyone and seen by the security cameras.

    In one part of the vineyard the raiders left a row of vines intact, perhaps fearful of being seen and caught. By the time they reached the southern section of it they were more confident, and wreaked total havoc. Great hatred must have driven them, complete meanness of spirit. The closest settlements are a few kilometers from here – Karmei Tzur to the north, Kiryat Arba and Givat Haharsina to the south. The immediate suspicion falls on their residents.

    This is the highest spot in the West Bank and the terroir is excellent, the physician-vine grower tells us; he only watered the vineyard once or twice a year from a well at its edge, otherwise depending on rainfall. A few types of grapes were grown here, white and dark. From each sundered trunk, the yield was usually 10-15 cartons of fruit, about 150 kilos of grapes.

    We take refuge from the heat in the shade of a peach tree in a nearby plot that has begun to yield fruit. “It was a vineyard at the height of its yield: 10 tons of grapes a year,” Jahshan tells us. In the years ahead, he won’t be harvesting the leaves, either, which sell for 25 shekels ($7) a kilo in the Hebron market. The harvest was due to begin in September – it starts later here, in the Hebron Hills – but now it’s been postponed indefinitely.

    “Maybe I’ll plant pakos [Armenian cucumbers] instead of grapes,” he muses, and then immediately corrects himself. “Of course I’ll plant grapes again.” If he or someone from his family come to the vineyard after dark, he adds, the army or the police arrive within minutes: “They see everything, but somehow they didn’t see the vandals.”

    Jahshan estimates the damage done to him and his family at about 250,000 shekels ($70,000), though it’s quite clear that the money is not his prime concern. He feels that there is no one to protect him and his property.

    When he and his relatives arrived Wednesday morning they didn’t see anything amiss at first. The vineyard was still green. Even after he saw one vine cut, he never imagined that the whole vineyard had been ruined. They went immediately to the Halhoul Municipality, and from there called the Israeli-Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison Office to file a complaint. They called the police and the Israel Defense Forces, too, and were asked to go back to the vineyard, where police and army officers met them to survey the damage at about 11 o’clock.

    A tracker examined footprints, photographs were taken, and Jahshan and the others were asked to go to the Kiryat Arba police station to file a complaint. It was the police who discovered the black inscription, “We will reach everywhere,” hidden amid the rocks. Jahshan hadn’t noticed it. Since then he hasn’t heard anything from the authorities.

    Shlomit Bakshi, spokeswoman of the Judea and Samaria District of the Israel Police, told Haaretz, “Upon receiving the complaint, the police launched an investigation and several actions were taken. At this stage, the investigation is still underway.”

    Jahshan comments drily that he hopes the police will find the culprits and bring them to justice, but adds, “If a child here had thrown a stone, they would have caught him already.”

    Perhaps the intensive investigation will get an essential boost from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who on Tuesday tweeted, “Ratcheting up the uncompromising war on agricultural crime. No longer mild punishment without deterrence Yesterday, a bill I sponsored was passed [by the Knesset] in the first vote [of three], stipulating that a police officer can levy a stiff fine in offenses involving agricultural crime. That way the criminal will receive immediate painful economic punishment.”

    Agricultural crime, stiff and painful punishment – Shaked was undoubtedly referring also, perhaps even mainly, to the ongoing, routine agricultural terror perpetrated by Jewish vandals against Palestinian farmers.

  • Israel condemns hundreds of Palestinians to unemployment – due to their last name
    Israeli authorities revoked the work permits of over a thousand Palestinians solely because they have the same surname as the perpetrator of a stabbing attack

    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Mar 23, 2018 1:54 PM

    If this isn’t collective punishment, then what is collective punishment? If this isn’t arbitrariness, then what is arbitrariness? And if this measure doesn’t ignite a fire in the relatively tranquil West Bank town of Yatta, then what is the measure intended for? Yatta is distraught, its economy is threatened with collapse, and all because of one person who transgressed, because of whom Israel is punishing an entire town.

    Up until a few months ago, over 7,000 residents of this town in the south Hebron Hills had permits to work. Of them, 915 residents with the surname Abu Aram worked in Israel and hundreds more in the settlements, according to the Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison office in Yatta. But those workers then lost their jobs in Israel and the settlements solely because of their names, in the wake of an astounding, draconian decision of the Civil Administration, Israel’s governing body in the West Bank. In desperation, dozens even changed their names in their ID cards, but to no avail. Their way back to work in Israel, where they’ve held jobs for years, is blocked, though they have done nothing wrong. Here’s what happened:
    Last August 2, a 19-year-old Yatta resident, Ismail Abu Aram, stabbed Niv Nehemia, the deputy manager of a supermarket in the Israeli city of Yavneh, wounding him seriously. The assailant was arrested. The next day, the authorities decided – in accordance with standard procedure after a terrorist attack – to bar the assailant’s family from entering Israel. The ban was lifted 10 days later, family members returned to their jobs in Israel and the settlements, and Yatta resumed its usual way of life.

  • Halting demolition of this Palestinian village will be the exception, not the rule
    Whether or not Sussia is saved from destruction, Israeli bulldozers will continue their work on others.
    By Amira Hass | Jul. 21, 2015 Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    The United States and Europe in recent days made out a check in the name of “Sussia.” Once again they have raised expectations about their ability to put the brakes on Israel’s colonizing madness. The temptation to be optimistic is great. The fear of bitter disappointment (and the joy of the enemies of logic) are even greater.

    Although Sussia is not a story that moves the Israelis as a whole, the bleeding hearts among us draw encouragement from the fact that at least this particular check might be cashed. That is, that the plans to destroy the village might not be carried out. Sussia has become a symbol. And that is precisely the trap.

    The European foreign ministers know the name of this village in the southern Hebron Hills as if it were a suburb on the way from the airport to Brussels. The spokesman for the U.S. State Department rolls the name off his tongue as if he had drunk coffee in one of the tents slated for demolition. The call on Israel not to uproot Sussia (and the generally unnoticed Bedouin community of Abu Nwar) is specifically included in the conclusions of this week’s monthly meeting of the EU Foreign Council. It is very unusual that such a small place is mentioned in the written conclusions. The State Department spokesman knew to say that the implications of demolishing the village were greater than the impact on its inhabitants. He also said the demolition would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation.

    But if Sussia is destroyed (again), perish the thought, that will not be a new standard. Even if we start counting from 20 years ago, Israel had already set the standard for uprooting and destroying Palestinian communities in the West Bank – at the height of the “peace process.”

    How many harsh documents by the European Union have we read in recent years, including a sharp analysis of the danger in which Israel’s policies place the fate of the two-state solution? True, with modest European funding, various services were and are provided to tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Area C (water, prefabricated structures, solar-heating systems) – which makes it easier for them to wage their heroic struggle against Israeli displacement plans. The European Union regards the cautious funding as a broad hint that it does indeed envision Area C (60 percent of the West Bank) as an inseparable part of the future Palestinian state. But Israel does not understand hints, it only benefits from the flow of European charity that prevents the humanitarian disaster from growing worse.

    Because Sussia has become a symbol, along with its courageous and stubborn inhabitants who have so far thwarted plans to wipe out their community (supported for many years by Israeli organizations, chief among them Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights), it might be saved. Then the Western foreign ministries will note with satisfaction that their warning worked. But Israeli bulldozers will quietly turn, helped by Israeli public support, to continued destruction of lives and homes in other Palestinian communities, no less courageous and stubborn – just less well-known. Or, on the other hand, perhaps precisely because Sussia is a symbol, Israel will decide to arm wrestle over it, treat it as a special case, and demolish it.

    And what will Europe and the United States do then that they have not done yet? Will the United States cease its security cooperation with Israel? Will Europe recall its ambassadors and close its airports to Israeli tourists?

    Perhaps the statements about Sussia do show a change of approach, and that Western patience, even that of the United States, is eroding for the Israeli pyromaniac. But the pace of change and erosion is much slower than the fire.

  • Soldiers expel 200 Palestinians from pool to allow settlers to bathe – Mondoweiss - June 10, 2015

    On 7 April 2015, during Passover holidays, a group of hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to Birkat al-Karmil – a natural pool close to the village of al-Karmil, which lies in the southern Hebron Hills within Area A. In 2011, Yatta Municipality renovated the site, creating a park there and restoring an ancient pool at its center.

    B’Tselem’s investigation found that at about 2:00 P.M., hundreds of settlers arrived at the pool accompanied by dozens of soldiers, Border Police, and representatives of the Civil Administration (CA). The security forces ordered the Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and remain on the edge of the park. They allowed the settlers, however, free and exclusive use of the rest of the park. At about 5:30 P.M., the settlers and the security forces left the area.

  • Israeli settlers damage Palestinian solar panels, olive trees

    Israeli settlers destroyed solar panels and olive trees in the #west_bank on Thursday, local news agencies reported. A group of settlers from the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yair attacked and smashed solar panels belonging to a Palestinian community in the south #Hebron hills, locals told Ma’an news agency. Witnesses said the settlers destroyed three out of five solar panels providing electricity to the small village of Khirbet Bir al-Idd. The attackers fled before villagers arrived at the scene. read more

    #Israel #Nablus #Palestine #Top_News

  • Israel’s Defense Ministry working to legalize outpost in Hebron Hills
    By Amira Hass | Feb. 23, 2014

    The Defense Ministry is in the process of legalizing the status of Avigayil, an illegal outpost in the southern Hebron Hills. Avigayil, founded in 2001 on more than 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of land, is located between the Maon and Susiya settlements. The authorization process is at an advanced stage.

    Avigayil is part of a chain of Jewish settlements and unauthorized outposts in the area that is rapidly expanding into a bloc that also includes Beit Yattir, Havat Lucifer, Mitzpeh Yair, Susiya, Maon, Havat Maon and Carmel. The official combined area of the legal settlements in the area, excluding Maon and Avigayil, is 10,180 dunams.

    To the east of the bloc is a 30,000-dunam Israel Defense Forces firing range, from which the Defense Ministry is trying to remove eight Palestinian villages. The case is currently in mediation.

  • Un colon poursuivi pour vol de chèvres d’un berger palestinien.
    Palestinian sues West Bank settler in theft of his goats - National Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    The Judea and Samaria District police have recommended pressing charges against a Jewish settler who is suspected of selling goats that were stolen from a Palestinian man, who previously sued the Beit Hagai resident.

    The Judea and Samaria District police spokeswoman told Haaretz last week that the case file now goes to the district’s prosecution department for its decision.

    Yousef Hersh, who lives near the southern Hebron Hills settlement, filed a claim against Yitzhak Nir for damages in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court through his attorney, Eitay Mack.

    Communicating through his own lawyer, Itamar Ben Gvir, Nir has denied any connection to the theft. Calling the lawsuit a part of the ongoing “harassment by leftist organizations of settlers in the southern Hebron Hills,” the Beit Hagai resident said he was in these organizations’ “crosshairs.”

    On April 14, 2012 a group of around eight Israelis who had come from Beit Hagai threw rocks at Hersh, his 12-year-old son and a 13-year-old cousin as they grazed their flock on private territory between their village, which was not named, and the settlement. Hersh and the two boys left the herd and took up a position from which they could still see the animals. In his suit Hersh claims he saw the settlers, whom he did not recognize, cut 14 nanny goats out of the flock and lead them to Beit Hagai using force. According to Hersh the nannies were from a particularly fine breed and in their prime reproductive years, being in the early stages of gestation. Police officers called to the scene arrived after the Israelis returned to Beit Hagai.

  • Palestinians prepare to lose the solar panels that provide a lifeline | Global development |

    Two large solar panels jut out of the barren landscape near Imneizil in the Hebron hills. The hi-tech structures sit incongruously alongside the tents and rough stone buildings of the Palestinian village, but they are fundamental to life here: they provide electricity.

    Imneizil is not connected to the national electricity grid. Nor are the vast majority of Palestinian communities in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel. The solar energy has replaced expensive and clunky oil-powered generators.

    According to the Israeli authorities, these solar panels – along with six others in nearby villages – are illegal and have been slated for demolition.

    #Israël #Palestine #énergie

  • Quand j’ai vu ce titre, j’ai eu vraiment très peur de ce qu’ils allaient raconter…

    In South Hebron Hills, Even Sheep Are Not Safe from Settlers | Occupied Palestine

    The villages of al-Litwani and al-Jawaya, in the south Hebron hills, are suffering from settler attacks and even the sheep are not spared. Settlers from the illegal outposts of Ma’on, Susya, and Karmel, all built on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Yatta, made their latest attack on Thursday and killed 10 sheep.

    “As always, the settlers attacked the villages under the protection of the army,” said 31-year-old Kamal Ruba’i. “They detain the citizens to give the settlers time to steal our homes and kill our sheep. And that’s not all, they drove 300 of our sheep to eat the crops we’ve been working in it the whole year.”

    Ruba’i said the settlers then stole the sheep.