Kisan: Another Palestinian village in Israel’s firing line

Despite a court order not to build on Kisan’s land, Israeli settlers and soldiers have started demolishing existing structures in preparation for the construction of a new Israeli industrial zone.

By: Amid Zayed. 20 March, 2015

In 2004, Israel’s High Court issued a decision to prevent Israelis from working inside the village of Kisan, east of Bethlehem.

Last week, Palestinian residents of the village were surprised when settlers walked ahead of four Israeli bulldozers, while Israeli soldiers followed, to level land in preparation for the construction of an Israeli industrial zone or a new settlement.

The residents of this small Palestinian village thought they were in a strong position, since they had papers issued by an Israeli court.

The Palestinian farmers ran to their homes, and brought the court papers. They said the Israeli troops laughed before the bulldozers levelled 600 acres of Kisan.

“I am now with the people of the village who are protesting at the construction site,” the head of the village council in Kisan, Hussein Ghazal, told al-Araby al-Jadeed over the phone.

“The Israeli bulldozers are working just ten meters away from our homes. We have prevented the army from entering the area. The army is attacking us, they are surrounding us from all sides. Things are not going well.”

Shouting could be heard over the phone. There was the voice of an Israeli soldier speaking in Hebrew, and then a Palestinian’s voice responded: “You and your bulldozers, you need to get off our land. You are thieves.”

Ghazal asked his people not to get involved in clashes and remain calm. Another shouted: “These people are not deterred by calm,” and continued yelling, “this land is ours”.

Provocations and violations

”As you can hear, things are very charged. The army is deliberately provoking us,” said Ghazal.

Ayoub Abayat is a Palestinian citizen of Kisan who owns 450 acres in the area. He has papers proving his ownership of the land, with a historic record of land registry dating back to the Ottoman era.

“They want us to be patient while their bulldozers are digging in our arteries and cutting our hearts,” said Abayat.

“This land is mine. I inherited it from my grandfather, Mohammed Awad Allah Abayat. I have land ownership dating back to the Ottoman era. They said they were going to take 20 acres. I don’t believe them. I’m losing my land in front of my eyes. I own 450 acres, next to the 600 acres that they already confiscated. I know their illicit ways.”

Abayat went immediately to the Israeli High Court. With the help of his lawyer, he was able to prove ownership of the land, and get a court order to stop the construction — but the military ignored the ruling and continued to secure the area for the constuction company.

“We have lost our calm,” added Abayat. “The Israeli Civil Liaison Officer said they could not do anything about the military’s refusal to abide by the decision of the court. They say they are going to build an industrial zone, but I see the settlers guiding the bulldozers and telling them where to dig.”

Kisan is located between three Israeli settlements and is already cut off from other neighbouring Palestinian villages. When the confiscation of 600 acres around the village is complete, it will become an island amid a sea of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.