Israel + 1 more

OPT: LAW challenges Israel's arbitrary destruction of land

Jamal Shamasni has delicate Ottoman papers over a hundred years old, proving that his grandfather's family owned a field of olives near his village of Qatlana in the Ramallah district.

Those papers couldn't defend him against Israeli bulldozers through. On November 23, 2002, Israeli troops came with machinery and completely destroyed eighty of his olive trees, and damaged another 40.

Jamal didn't see the Israeli army come. He heard the story from eyewitnesses from the nearby village of Kharab al-Lahem, who called him, informing him that the army was wreaking havoc on his olive trees, many more than 200 years old.

Jamal then remembered a letter given to him by a shepard a few days before, with some phone numbers on it.

Jamal had no idea who the letter was from, and recalls asking the man, when he dialed the number, who he was and who he represented. The man, Noam Aldan, informed him that he was from the Israeli Land Authority, and that the land in question belonged to the ILA, and not Jamal.

Jamal didn't complain to the police. He couldn't reach the police, because of curfew and closure.

Jamal's land feeds five families, or around 50 people, who harvest olives every year, and sell the valuable oil to raise money. Luckily, they had harvested the olives just 20 days before the ILA ordered the destruction of his land. This year - 2003 - Jamal doesn't know what he will do. Olives need years before they bear fruit, and his 40 damaged trees may bear nothing at all.

LAW took on this case just recently. LAW's lawyer Hanan Khatib intends questioning both the Military Attorney General and the Israeli Land Authority as to why they destroyed private property, and a source of sustenance for fifty people.