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PHOTOS: Israel 'punishes' Ni'ilin activist, denies access to olive trees behind the wall


October 23, 2013 - For being one of the leaders of Nil’in’s popular struggle against the wall, Muhammad Amira has been marked by military authorities and is consistently denied a permit to work his own lands – for unexplained 'security reasons.’Meet Muhammad Amira from the West Bank village of Ni’ilin. At 43, married with four children, a science teacher at the local school, for six years Israel has banned Amira from visiting the 30 dunams (7.5 acres) of agricultural land his family owns, which are trapped behind the wall Israel built on village lands. Planted with olive trees and serving as grazing territory for the family’s sheep, the lands used to produce an important and regular supplemental income for the Amira family until construction of the fence-turned-wall began in 2007...

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PHOTOS: Israel 'punishes' Ni'ilin activist, denies access to olive trees behind the wall

By Activestills

October 23, 2013

For being one of the leaders of Nil’in’s popular struggle against the wall, Muhammad Amira has been marked by military authorities and is consistently denied a permit to work his own lands – for unexplained 'security reasons.’

Text by Haggai Matar
Photos by Keren Manor/Activestills.org

Muhammad Amira walks with his son toward the agricultural gate in attempt to harvest his olive trees in the other side of the Separation Wall, Ni’lin, West Bank, October 21, 2013.

Meet Muhammad Amira from the West Bank village of Ni’ilin. At 43, married with four children, a science teacher at the local school, for six years Israel has banned Amira from visiting the 30 dunams (7.5 acres) of agricultural land his family owns, which are trapped behind the wall Israel built on village lands. Planted with olive trees and serving as grazing territory for the family’s sheep, the lands used to produce an important and regular supplemental income for the Amira family until construction of the fence-turned-wall began in 2007.

Amira climbs next to the Separation Wall in order to see if Israeli soldiers have arrived to open the agricultural gate.

Because he is one of the leaders of the local popular unarmed struggle against the wall, military authorities have marked Amira and denied him a permit to work his own land — for unexplained "security reasons." Muhammad Amira is the last remaining agriculturally inclined member of his wider family, which means that his banishment from his lands by the army actually cut all ties between the family and its land. For six years now the trees have not been cared for nor harvested. The sheep were sold off. In a year from now, the land will not have been worked for seven years, which means that according to Israeli military regulations it will be declared "abandoned," confiscated, and most probably assigned to the nearby Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim. Amira can try and reach his lands if he wants to. He can go to the Ni’ilin checkpoint or knock on the "agricultural door" in the wall. But without a permit, wherever he goes, the soldiers will always send him back.

A Palestinian farmer waits for israeli soldiers to open the agricultural gate in order to harvest her olive trees in the other side of the Separation Wall.

This is seemingly a small, private story, of one man who is about to lose his land but who also has a second, fairly stable source of income. But the story of Muhammad Amira is much more than that. It is a tiny example of political oppression; Amira is being punished for his commitment to popular resistance. It is also the story of the settlements and the effects of The Wall, its corresponding permit regime and the entire occupation’s effect on Palestinians’ day-to-day lives.

Amira and his son wait outside the gate.

Israel’s oppression of the popular struggle in Ni’ilin has so far claimed the lives of five residents, one of them a 10-year-old boy named Ahmad Musa. The border policeman who shot him was later acquitted of manslaughter and convicted on the minor charge of "irresponsible use of a weapon." Countless residents, as well as Israeli and international activists, have also been wounded in Ni’ilin, among them U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson, who was shot in the head by soldiers in March 2009. The High Court is still out on the question of whether or not to demand that the IDF re-open its investigation into the shooting. In another incident, a handcuffed and blindfolded detainee was shot in the leg – a story that made headlines because it was captured on video. The village has also been subject to repeated curfews and night raids by the army. Many of the local youth and activists have been put on trial either for throwing stones or simply for organizing demonstrations.

Amira and two other farmers from the village wait in the sun for Israeli soldiers to open the agricultural gate.

And still, Ni’ilin chooses popular struggle, trying to communicate to the world what the occupation does. In May 2012, Muhammad Amira and his brother Sa’ed heard that Madonna was coming to perform a concert in Israel and decided to make a short video reminding the internationally renowned singer why they could not attend her concert. Madonna still performed, and Muhammad Amira still cannot reach his lands.

The farmers get close to the gate after hearing Israeli soldiers from the other side of the wall.

 

After the farmers wait two hours in the sun, the Israeli soldiers open the gate, checking the farmers’ permits to cross the wall to their agriculture lands.

 

An Israeli soldier closes the agricultural gate, not allowing Muhammad Amira to harvest his olive trees on the other side of the Separation Wall. Amira hasn’t gotten a permit to work his 30 dunams of agricultural land since 2007. when Israel began building of the wall in his village.

 

A view of Ni’ilin’s agricultural land on both sides of the Separation Wall.

Related:
Haggai Matar’s 'The Wall’ project
A journey into the dark heart of Israel’s permit regime

Source


:: Article nr. 101946 sent on 24-oct-2013 01:34 ECT

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