Deir Nizam, Ramallah District: Settlers repeatedly drive farmers out of their land with help of soldiers and Israeli authorities
On 9 March 2021, five members of the a-Tamimi family from the village of Deir Nizam went to one of their plots, which lies near the neighboring village of a-Nabi Saleh. A settler named Zvi, who established the Zvi Bar Yosef farm outpost nearby and grazes his cattle on land belonging to local farmers, noticed them when they arrived. He summoned soldiers, who drove the farmers out of their land and confiscated their tractor, on the pretext that they were on “state land.”
On the morning of 17 March 2021, several family members went to another plot they own, located about 600 meters west of the first plot and about 200 meters from the settlement of Halamish. A few months ago, the family planted 2,400 almond seedlings in this plot and put up a fence around them, as part of a program supported by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian Center for Development. When they got there, they found that settlers had uprooted a large part of the fence. While they were repairing it, several settlers appeared and led their cattle onto the family’s plot to graze. An argument broke out over ownership of the land. The settlers – including Zvi from the outpost mentioned above, who was armed – summoned soldiers and an official from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, who ordered the family to stop working and leave their land, on the grounds that it was a closed military zone.
On the afternoon of 19 March 2021, the family again came to their plot and found Settlers grazing cattle on its outskirts. One settler threatened to shoot the family if they did not leave. A few minutes later, more settlers arrived, including Zvi. They were followed by several soldiers, who dispersed both the settlers and the family.
The following morning, 20 March 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., the a-Tamimi family returned to their land (200 meters from which the settlement of Halamish was established) to continue working, and discovered that settlers had uprooted most of the seedlings they had planted. The family reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO and called village residents, who helped them replant the seedlings.
Later that afternoon, several members of the a-Tamimi family returned to the first plot, which lies near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh. About eight soldiers and officers appeared and told them to leave. When the family refused, the soldiers demanded to see the land deeds. Yet presenting the documents did not suffice. About 20 other village residents gathered at the scene. At that point, an officer ordered the soldiers to hurl stun grenades and shoot tear gas canisters at them. The residents fled some 50 meters away, where they stopped and watched the unfolding scene. They saw a soldier uproot two olive seedlings that had been planted in the plot, but were unable to do anything. At around 6:00 P.M., the residents went home.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Munjed Tamimi described the invasions and harassment, the family’s violent expulsion from their land, and their helplessness in the face of the settlers’ takeover intentions:
The acts of aggression and harassment by settlers from the outposts against farmers from our village don’t stop, but increase with every day that goes by. We’re particularly troubled by the “Zvi’s Farm” outpost, where the settler has a herd of about 50 cows. He’s constantly grazing them on the land of Palestinian farmers near Halamish, such as in Um Lasafa, a-Nabi Saleh and Deir Nizam. He and his herd vandalize our land and property as if it were their private territory. The settlement security guards, the military and the Israeli police always protect him and drive us out. Sometimes he’s also helped by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority or Israel Antiquities Authority staff, who also drive us out.
In one such incident, on 20 March 2021, we showed them the land deeds after they demanded them. They had nothing to say. The officer talked on the phone with someone, probably some official, and I heard him say that we have the deeds and that there’s no cause to uproot the seedlings. The person he spoke to replied that they’re small seedlings now, but when they grow they’ll block the view in front of Halamish. I heard him order the officer to drive us out even if he had to use force to do so.
At the end of the conversation, he ordered the soldiers to throw stun grenades at us from short range. At first, there were only about seven of us there, but then backup arrived from our village and from a-Nabi Saleh, and we were already 30 to 40 people. We were careful not to get dragged into a confrontation with them, because that’s what they want. When they saw that we weren’t moving, they also fired tear gas canisters at us.
To get away from the gas, we went about 50 to 70 meters away and waited there for the soldiers to leave. I saw one of them uproot two olive seedlings. We filmed him. We were furious and yelled at them that it’s not manly to take revenge on the trees. Meanwhile, it was getting dark and it wasn’t possible to work the land anyway, so we went home, hoping to come back to the land the next day to complete the work.
It seems it will be a long struggle, but we’re ready for it. The land is like our soul, and we won’t give in to them.
The settlement of Halamish was established about 200 meters away from the village.