Memorandum from Israel: Olive Trees Are a Security Threat

The soldiers laughed.

An old woman cried.

The Israeli army bulldozer went about its work today, demolishing over 100 olive trees, all less than 10 years old, in Susiya, South Hebron Hills.

Army vehicles gathered near olive grove demolition site, Susiya, South Hebron Hills.

Army vehicles gather near olive grove demolition site, Susiya, South Hebron Hills.

The soldiers continued to laugh.

“Halas” they said (“enough”), as the old woman cried. She screamed at the bulldozer to stop.

The soldiers laughed some more.

Apparently, in an army manual somewhere, it reads to “hand the locals a glass of water.”  And so the soldier handed a glass of water to the woman.  Angrily, she threw it on the ground.

The soldiers laughed some more.

The trees had been planted and cared for by the woman and many of the village children.

All that's left after the Israeli army destroyed the olive trees in this terraced grove.

All that’s left after the Israeli army destroyed the olive trees in this terraced grove.

The army’s stated reason for demolition of these trees:  they posed a “security threat” to the settlers living in the archaeological site adjacent to the terraced grove.

The army had demolished the woman’s home years earlier, located very close to this grove.  The State of Israel had pushed off the inhabitants of this land from their homes in the 1980’s and declared the place an “archaeological site.”

Standing amidst his mature olive trees in the neighbouring grove, an old man named Issa, watched.  One never knows where the bulldozers will go next.

Issa watching the demolition of the neighbouring olive grove.

Issa watching the demolition of the neighbouring olive grove.

Two or three of his young trees were demolished today.  Sadly, he showed them to us.

One of Issa's young trees, demolished today by the Israeli army.

One of Issa’s young trees, demolished today by the Israeli army.

Issa holding the branches from one of his destroyed trees.

Issa holding the branches from one of his destroyed trees.

I know this man.  He remembered me.  We had provided protective presence for him while picking olives during the olive harvest of October 2011.  He offered to make me tea today,  once the bulldozers left.

When the damage was done, the bulldozer dumped its final  load of demolished trees into a trailer.

Bulldozer leaving the grove to dump its final load of destroyed trees.

Bulldozer leaving the grove to dump its final load of destroyed trees.

Following an army jeep, the bulldozer then pulled out of the grove, driving through Issa’s mature grove.

Bulldozer and army jeeps leaving the olive grove.

Bulldozer and army jeeps leaving the olive grove.

It was followed by the truck pulling the trailer of olive tree remains, and more army jeeps.

Trailer load of destroyed olive trees leaving grove.

Trailer load of destroyed olive trees leaving grove.

Nervously, we watched.  Would they stop and demolish these mature trees?  Not today.

All vehicles left the field, and the bulldozer was loaded onto a flatbed trailer.

This was one of four demolitions across the West Bank today.  All demolitions are related to people’s livelihood.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

Jan

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5 responses

  1. Jan… this is heartbreaking! And yet, we knew this day would come. The excavation of the ‘wine press’ in the summer of 2011 established the premise for this area being laid claim to by the settlers to expand the ‘historical site of Old Suseya’. shalompaxsalaam.wordpress.com/
    The gardens and lands that day were dug up by bulldozers and backhoes claiming to be doing ‘archaeology’. Issa held in his hand the deep to the land granted him through the Jordanian system well before 1967; the soldiers and settlers ignored him and the back hoe dumped dirt directly onthe head of his neighbor Mohammed.
    Yes… we knew this day would come. And YET… we also know that this cruelty will not hold! That there will come a day of justice when all will sit beneath their own vine and fig tree, and olive tree and shall live in peace and be unafraid. God’s rich promise of justice and peace with prevail. Stand in witness, Jan, and all you stalwart EAs. Hold the space with love, support the folks who work peacefully and courageously for God’s promised Kin-dom. Inshallah. May it be so. May it be soon.

    Dianne

  2. shalompaxsalaam.wordpress.com/history creates new victims Post from July 23, 2011
    In that blog, you can see the damage done to Issa’s and Mohammed’s land and read of the back hoe’s damage.

  3. “I found that rage rose where love was denied, when that which we loved most was desecrated. Singing helped us honor rage as a companion of women’s love. …
    Generativity is a natural state of life. Living our lives in ways that heal and uplift, that bring our human family to right relationship and reverence, is deep and beautiful purpose….” [Carolyn McDade (http://www.carolynmcdademusic.com/bio.html )]

    Thank you, Jan, for being so present a witness to the Israeli government’s desecration of those trees…Thank you for describing the Palestinian women’s rage, out of their love for life…

    Might we honour that love by working together, to seek a just peace…

  4. This atrocity is another sad example of the nasty Israeli might illegally oppressing their neighbours. I am very distressed by this action, and fervently hoping and praying for better resolution of the situation. Shame on the Israelis and shame on the complacent world. Charles Beckett, Canada.

  5. Dear Jan
    I continue to be touched by your passion and your ability to portray the injustice that continues to grow in Pallestine in a way that is so vivid and poignant that we cannot help but feel a part of your journey of peace and support. It is very easy to feel untouched by the injustice in the world and feel beaten by our own life struggle…our prayers are with you as you continue to open your heart and give of yourself to those in such need of support. Sending you prayers and hugs. Cyn

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