Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yesh Din

I've just found, probably years behind everyone else a source of news from Israel, with particular reference to Human Rights abuses: Yesh Din. Here's a news report:
Over the last year, “Yesh Din” has received a number of complaints of settlers seizing private Palestinian agricultural lands. Today “Yesh Din” exposes for the first time that a meeting was held after the signing of the Oslo Accords, in which senior figures among the northern West Bank settlements decided to take measures to expand into lands surrounding the settlements, although these lands were not under their jurisdiction. Under the method chosen for carrying out this plan, the local councils of settlements appointed individual settlers to seize plots outside their jurisdiction, restrict access to the Palestinian landowners of the plots, and after a few years demand that the army declare them ‘state lands.’ According to “Yesh Din's” information, in some of the cases the army did in fact agree to this demand and the lands were declared state lands and officially made part of the settlements. This method was exposed during discussions held by the military appeal committee in Ofer camp, while reviewing an appeal of a Civil Administration order submitted by Michael Lesence, a settler from Kedumim. Lesence was given an eviction order from a plot of land belonging to Palestinian residents of Qadum, after the local council agreed to “Yesh Din's” demand they do so. During the discussions over the appeal, the Kedumim Council’s land coordinator, Ze'ev Moshinsky, and a former Council security officer, Michael Bar Neder, both gave testimony. Both confirmed that the Kedumim Council's practice of seizing lands surrounding Kedumim was used to expand the settlement's municipal lands. Moshinsky confirmed that the meeting of senior figures from the northern West Bank settlements took place, and that it was decided to map and seize "uncultivated" plots surrounding the settlements. Moshinsky even confirmed that the Kedumim council had the settlers sent to man the plots sign contracts avowing that they would not claim ownership of them. Bar Neder confirmed that the objective was the turn the plots into state lands by designating them as lands in use by the settlements. According to Moshinsky and Bar Neder's testimonies, Kedumim seized at least seven plots, some of which have already been declared state lands and became part of the settlement. From “Yesh Din's” information and testimonies by army representatives at the appeal committee, it is revealed that a central component in the "method" is to forcefully prevent Palestinians from reaching their lands and therefore legally ensure the declaration of the plots as ‘state lands’ by claiming "non-cultivation." Over the last year “Yesh Din” received seven complaints by Palestinians of seizure of their lands through this method.

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