Ofer - Appeal
Translation: Marganit W.
Appeals Committee of three judges:
Lieut. Col. Dalia Kaufmann, Lieut. Col. Eyal Nun, Major Rani Amar
Appellant: Elad Mobshovitz
Representing the appellant: Attorney Amir Fisher
Respondents: Captain Alisa Akronovitz Balfour, representing the Legal Counsel of Judea and Samaria, real estate section.
Kamar Mashraky Asad and Avital Sharon represented Rabbis for Human Rights
The case revolves around a vineyard in Susya, which Elad Mobshovitz, a settler from Mitzpe Yair, received from Dalia Har Sinai, a settler form Susya. Mobshovitz cultivates the plot, manufactures wine and even built a winery there.
A couple of years ago he built a fence around the vineyard.
The Civil Administration demands that he dismantle the fence.
The previous owner was Dalia Har Sinai, the widow of Yair Har Sinai. We maintain that the legal owner is the Hushiya family, which wants the vineyard back, claiming that the land belongs to them. The family petitioned to the Supreme Court, but the petition was rejected.
Amira Haas published an article about the case on 19.2.14:
This week the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against settlers who had taken over land in Susya, arguing that the petition was an old case and it is impossible to force the army and the civil administration to take administrative steps.
The petition, submitted in 2012 by Atty. Kamar Mashraky Asad and Avital Sharon (of Rabbis for Human Rights) had to do with 3000 dunams belonging to the Hushia Muta family, situated between Susya settlement and the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yair. Atty. Amir Fisher, representing Susya settlement, Hebron Mountain regional council and three Israeli citizens, argued that a Susya resident bought the plot in question in 199-, and then obtained permission from the World Zionist Organization for sheep herding on a tract of several thousand dunams which had been declared “State Land.”
How Susya Settlement came into being (from Wikipedia):
In 1996 Har Sinai Farm was established on the outskirts of Susya by Yair and Dalia Har Sinai for sheep herding, orchards, and growing organic cereal and vegetables, inspired by the couple’s philosophy which is based on the love of God and nature, patriotism, modesty and self sufficiency. They prospered for 16 years until marauding Ismaelites murdered Yair. His wife continued to maintain the farm faithfully and it has become an oasis of nature preservation in our turbulent modern life, serving as an educational environmental center that teaches sheep growing and organic agriculture based on tradition and the Torah… Today the farm produces and sells sheep and goat cheeses and organic flours.
Thus, this idyllic farm materialized one day in the outskirts of Susya embodying faith, patriotism, love of nature and humility.
We know of course that the army helped in expelling the previous residents when they tried to feed their sheep there, and the Mekorot water company brings ample water to the fields and orchards, the government paved roads for the settlers’ convenience, the Revenue Dept. gave them generous tax breaks and the Zionist Organization gave them permission to herd their sheep there (like a person allowing a friend to use a house that he does not own) and the Supreme Court made all this Kosher.
And now the Judea and Samaria Real estate Section demands that Mr. Mobshovitz dismantle a fence he built around the vineyard.
Is the Legal Counsel joining Mr. Hushiya in his demand to get his land back? Not at all.
Legal Counsel only insists that he dismantle a fence built without a permit. The court, says the judge, maintains the rule of law, and therefore the lawyer representing the Judea and Samaria legal section demands the demolition of the fence built by the settler Mobshovitz. She demands it on behalf of the army, which at the same time plans to demolish all of Palestinian Susya tomorrow. This, too, is done in the name of the rule of law.
Destroying an entire village is fine, but to leave in place a settler’s illegal fence – unacceptable.
There is an elephant in the room that nobody mentions or even sees. The Hushiya family lives under occupation. All the lands on which Jewish Susya was built are stolen lands. The settlers of Jewish Susya and Mitzpe Yair are contravening international law all the time: they took over the land, expelled its inhabitants, terrorize and intimidate them – ostensibly lawfully. Whose law? The elephant in the room. But the fence must go: it was built without a permit.
And why did Mr. Mobshovitz build a fence around the vineyard? Here is the ‘newspeak’ used by the settlers themselves to describe their takeover of the land (from the website of “The Faithful of Mount Hebron”):
“Yair (one of the first settlers in Susya) held that in order to truly settle the land of Israel, one has to leave the established towns. He wanted to be an agriculturalist, but he realized that he could not get close to agricultural land because of the Arab shepherds there. In a long process, he learnt their ways and adopted their customs. By tilling the land and herding sheep he gradually increased the grazing areas of declared ‘State Lands’, and thus, step by step he progressed until today his herding territory comprises 8000 dunams. Thanks to him, Susya now has a cordon sanitaire around it.”
The Judea and Samaria Legal Counsel representative asked Mobshovitz: Did you document the transfer of the plot from Dalia Har Sinai to your hands? “No”, he said. “It did not occur to me to do so at the time.” Adding, “In fact, these territories are not managed by documents. I wanted to plant a vineyard and she agreed.”
From Avital Sharon’s interrogation of Mobshovitz it was apparent that he did not remember much: he was serving in the army at that time, and besides he does not understand such matters. We also gathered that he planted many trees “scattered and far apart” because this is the best way to cultivate the land. The vineyard was the fulfillment of a dream for him. In 2012 he built a fence around it and the civil administration told him to dismantle it.
Now he is appealing the decision in the court.
We sat in court watching how the emperor’s new clothes were being sewn. The judges, the typist, the lawyer from the civil administration, the attorneys from Rabbis for Human Rights and even we – were all part of the sewing operation. This entire appeals committee is a legal masquerade for land grab, expulsion and banishment. This legalistic charade, like the emperor’s clothes, was totally transparent and clearly revealed the ugly nakedness of the occupation in which everybody participates.