Sinjil - Theft of privately owned Palestinian lands
The drive to Sinjil was planned after the person we met on our previous visits this month told us that on Sunday through Tuesday, September 4-6, bulldozers came to smooth a privately owned area belonging to the villagers. According to the landowner, the DCO offices at Beit El hold documents stating the name of the landowner, but in actual fact colonists are taking over.
On the edge of the recently smoothed-out area, we saw the place where colonist Michael
Shamla tried to erect his farm but was forced to leave. Just under a year ago he moved his residence near the army base below a tall antenna, to the outpost called Shilo River Farm. He probably will not be ordered away from there. According to an image video and his posts on Youtube, the plan is to take over a vast area including his former place of residence. There is still a shed with the Israeli flag flown above, and buckets in which he planted olive trees. The saplings were uprooted by the landowner, but according to his own words on the net, the colonist will be back to replant them.
Our Palestinian friend, erudite and computer-knowledgeable follows the colonists’ posts and is aware of their evil, untiring plans. He often runs into them, and especially into Michael Shamla, near the Maqam (holy and heritage site for the local Palestinian community) and in areas which he is still able to tend – Shamla’s colonist buddies even reach his and his family members’ homes.
On our way back, riding up to Maqam Abu Al-Uf, Michael Shamla appeared in front of us driving a pickup truck. He tried to push us off the road where the roadsides are not drivable. We understood this as a threat and the will to damage our vehicle and perhaps even us personally. The driver, an employee of the Sinjil local council, drove the vehicle backward on a rocky downwards slope, with great poise and skill. No doubt, were our license plate an Israeli one, the violent colonist coming up against us would not be aggressive, but rather wait until we pass. Finally, the driver managed to move the vehicle to the left and the pickup truck passed to our right. When Shamla saw us sitting in the back, he asked where we had come from. Irit replied instinctively – from the police, and he sped up and disappeared.
On Thursday, September 8, a day following our visit, violence again hit the same area. Just as Irit described in our latest report. Musa, one of our accompaniers, was seriously wounded and hospitalized. The report also appeared on the Megafon website under the title: Sinjil: the colonists hit, the police watched, and the Israeli army did not intervene
Sinjil villagers assemble at Maqam Abu Al-Uf
Before going up to the said area, we spent time with the landowner near the Maqam. The Sinjil villagers continue their tradition of praying and rituals at the site. Prior to the weekly Friday assembly, they cleaned up the place. We helped. Two of them lit candles placed in niches inside the Maqam, adding a sense of sanctity to the place.
Last Friday, several dozen villagers meant to assemble there for prayer and social activity, but colonist took over wildly. Our friend says he felt his life was endangered when he tried to near them. He is aware of their wish to take over the Maqam and turn it into a synagogue. He follows posts on the net and has seen that on the outpost website, photos of a family celebration at the Maqam appeared, taken two years ago. It is obvious they feel at home there.
We drove on Road 60. At the junction towards Shilo colony we were ‘greeted’ by signs showing plans to expand the Shilo bloc.
An image video of the Shamlas from February 2022, when they settled in the outpost:
An excellent post by Kerem Navot, publicized just as it received news of the bulldozers working:
Apparently, the land between colonies is an attractive target for Israeli takeover and reduction of the open areas that are still in Palestinian hands, even though the state has documents proving these are privately owned Palestinian lands. Will the State eventually claim that this takeover was carried out innocently?