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Home Invasions and False Arrests: What Happens to a Palestinian Protecting His Land Home Invasions and False Arrests: What Happens to a Palestinian Who Protects His Land

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On December 11, a structure made of wood and cinder blocks appeared on a piece of land belonging to Aref Jaber of Hebron. Just before he found the structure, relatives told him that Israeli Jews were squatting on his land, on a hill east of Hebron in the West Bank, in an area called al-Bak’aa.

Since that day, Jaber and his family have been constantly harassed: raids on his land and home, other illegal structures going up and being demolished, intrusive drones, imposter Israel Police officers saying they’re from the Shin Bet security service, and false arrests by the army and police.

From the plot at al-Bak’aa to the home in Hebron and all the way to the Ofer military court, Haaretz has been accompanying the Jaber family since March – and the challenges they’ve encountered because they object to a hostile takeover of their land.

The structure discovered on December 11 was demolished; almost immediately a drone appeared over the plot, followed by a military force and Israeli civilians. There were also police officers and vehicles of Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank.

“We told them that strangers had built something on our land; the policemen told us to file a complaint,” Jaber told Haaretz. Later that day, an Israeli settler who lives near him in Hebron’s Old City shouted at him: “Why did you destroy the structure, why did you destroy the structure?”

Jaber filed a complaint about illegal construction on his land as well as vandalism of his car. “From the distance, the children saw Israelis around the car,” Jaber said. The windshield and a headlight were smashed and one of the door handles was broken.

Jaber, 46, the father of five sons and a daughter, does his best to film every trespass and other incident. He backs up his testimonies with those videos, taken in the field by him and others.

That’s how he can report exactly what happened on what date. On December 12, the army declared the plot a closed military zone. Three days later Israelis again started to build a structure there; it was also demolished.

On the night between December 22 and 23, Israelis returned to the plot and in the morning Jaber discovered a concrete surface, iron mesh in preparation for another surface and a new stone fence. On December 29, a Civil Administration order was found on the plot ordering the work stopped.

Then on January 9, two concrete rooms and a pile of planks for construction were found on the plot. The rooms were demolished and the planks were removed.

On January 13, several non-Palestinians, including a man speaking American English, were sowing seeds on his land. “Policemen and people from the Civil Administration came and removed them after I reported it,” he said.

On January 24, Jaber and friends planted 100 olive saplings on the plot. Each sapling cost 35 shekels ($10.80). An Israeli whom Jaber knows is a tenant of a building that settlers have taken over in his neighborhood looked at the people doing the planting and left.

The next day a few Israelis came and tore out the saplings, in front of officials from the Civil Administration, who wouldn’t let Jaber come any closer. He planted again, and the saplings were uprooted again. After that the Civil Administration destroyed the concrete surface.

“In the past we planted barley and wheat at the plot,” Jaber said. But the crop went bad because of the restrictions on movement and the curfews during the second intifada, the ban on driving cars in Hebron, the thugs who destroyed the plot after every sowing and planting, and the overall economic difficulties.

On February 10, Israelis invaded his land once again, and again on February 23. On March 16, a man driving an earth-moving vehicle........

© Haaretz

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