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PHOTOS: Israeli authorities destroy Palestinian family's valley of fruit trees

Israeli authorities destroyed some 1,500 fruit trees on a Palestinian farm near Bethlehem. The family has ownership documentation dating back to the Ottoman period.

Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. On May 19, Israeli forces bulldozed the family's groves, which contained mature apricot, apple, grape, almond, and fig trees planted 10 years previous. The army claims that it is state land, but the Nassar family has documents proving ownership of their land, also known as "Tent of Nations" dating back to the Ottoman period. The family's land is virtually surrounded by the Gush Etzion settlement bloc which, like all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, is illegal under international law. (Activestills.org)

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. On May 19, Israeli forces bulldozed the family’s groves, which contained mature apricot, apple, grape, almond, and fig trees planted 10 years previous. The army claims that it is state land, but the Nassar family has documents proving ownership of their land, also known as “Tent of Nations” dating back to the Ottoman period. The family’s land is virtually surrounded by the Gush Etzion settlement bloc which, like all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, is illegal under international law. (Activestills.org)

The sign at the entrance to the Nassar family farm reads, “We refuse to be enemies.”  In 2000, they named their land Tent of Nations and launched a program “to bring people of various cultures together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation, and peace.” They invite youth from around the world, especially from areas of conflict, together for face-to-face interactions and host solidarity movements, churches, youth organizations, and tourist groups, each year—many of whom come to volunteer on the farm. Though they’ve been fighting a legal battle to resist confiscation of their land by Israeli authorities since 1991, they welcome anyone to visit.

“As humans, we’re willing to meet with anyone,” says Daoud Nassar, noting that their visitors often include internationals and Israeli Jews who are being exposed to the realities of the Israeli occupation for the first time. “But this is not peace,” he says, emphasizing that dialogue alone is not enough when one side holds all of the power.

That power dynamic was graphically displayed as Nassar walked through his family’s valley of some 1,500 mature fruit trees that had been destroyed a few weeks previous by Israeli authorities. Their groves included apricot, almond, fig, and apple trees, as well as grape vines, valued at $150,000 for the trees alone—not factoring the costs of cultivation, laborers, etc.

According to a statement by the family’s lawyer, Sani Khoury, the military claimed that the trees, which had been planted some 10 years previous, were growing on state land and needed to be removed.

The Nassars had filed an appeal with the military court, asserting that the Israeli Supreme Court had already declared that the family should continue with the “re-registration” process of their land for which they have ownership documentation dating back to the Ottoman period. This “re-registration” process has been dragging on for decades, with the Israel Military Land Registrar delaying the process endlessly without explanation.

According to Khoury, no demolition or evacuation can legally take place before a final verdict once an appeal is filed. But though their appeal was filed on May 12, and no verdict had been issued, the authorities bulldozed the land a week later on May 19.

The family is filing a lawsuit against the military demanding compensation for the damages.

The Israeli settlement Beitar Illit covers a nearby hilltop as Daoud Nassar drives to his family farm, known as Tent of Nations, near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

The Israeli settlement Beitar Illit covers a nearby hilltop as Daoud Nassar drives to his family farm, known as Tent of Nations, near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

Daoud Nassar inspects the destruction of his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

Daoud Nassar walks near a the branches of mature almond trees protruding from a mound of earth after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

Daoud Nassar walks near a the branches of mature almond trees protruding from a mound of earth after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

Daoud Nassar holds a rotted apricot remaining after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

Daoud Nassar holds a rotted apricot remaining after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

Daoud Nassar stands near a lone fig tree, the only tree remaining standing after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family's grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

Daoud Nassar stands near a lone fig tree, the only tree remaining standing after Israeli authorities bulldozed his family’s grove of some 1,500 fruit trees near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

 

A sign reading "We refuse to be enemies" marks the entrance of the Nassar family farm, known as Tent of Nations, near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014.

A sign reading “We refuse to be enemies” marks the entrance of the Nassar family farm, known as Tent of Nations, near the West Bank village of Nahalin, June 3, 2014. (Activetills.org)

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  • COMMENTS

    1. How can anyone expect next generations of Arabs and Jews living together in mutual trust, supporting one another, when the rulers of today consider the planting of seeds of hatred as their main task?
      One would expect more opposition in Israel against this kind of behaviour of the autorities.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Jan

      Ginger, if you see these photos is this OK with you? Do you need more proof? Or did the Nasser family do this to their trees just to show that Jews are terrible people?

      What is your answer Ginger? I know you will look at these photos but I suspect you will just call it pallywood even when you know those photos reflect reality.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        Ginger is a retarded person. Don’t waste your time talking to his rants. All he is looking for is someone feeding his hasbara troll mouth

        Reply to Comment
        • Jan

          I guess I may have been mistaken by thinking that Ginger was a woman. But you well maybe correct in thinking that Ginger is a man. Usually a woman would have far more compassion than one sees in Ginger. Ginger is probably called GInger because of his hair color.

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            It’s very common for Hasbara twits to post under a female moniker,or give the impression they’re women.

            “Do you really want to hate a woman?”,is the logic behind this psy-op.

            It coincides with a never ending stream of news from Israel about sexy Israeli soldiergirls in their underwear on facebook,sexy Mossad women spreading their legs for the good cause,sexy IDF combat soldiers,sexy Scarlet SS blood bubble bimbo’s from occupied land,sexy (half-,quarter-,”Jewish roots through their grand-grand father”)Jewish actrices etc.

            It’s a psy-op that aims at the underbelly of average men;

            “Do you want to hump me,or do you want to kill me?”

            1897 Zionist pornography,it sells.

            I see it as a last line of defense,taken from the Bonobo’s:
            Whenever the men are making a mess and a fight threatens to break out,the Bonobo women intervene,they all grab a man ,have sex,and calm returns.

            Did you ever wonder why these ugly creatures are commenting here?
            They are only making fools out of themselves and if anything, they cause hate for anything Zionist or Jewish,especially in moderate readers and readers that follow this blog to educate themselves.

            The ugly stuff these people spew doesn’t convince any neutral person to identify with 1897 Zionism or Israel.

            It only makes Jews,and non-Jews, that were ignorant open their eyes to the ugliness of 1897 Zionism.

            They are actually shooting their own foot with their activities ,because their arguments will only disgust Jews and non-Jews alike.

            For the purpose of isolating 1897 Zionism and Israel they are doing a great job.

            What worries me is if they are aware how much damage they are doing to Jews and Judaism world-wide.

            “Usefull idiots”,but usefull for whom?

            Who is allowing these twits to whip up so much hate towards Jews and Judaism?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      I think we are at the point where every decent human being has to take a stand against Israel and its racist policies in a similar vain to the stand taken against South Africa during the apartheid era. That means a full-fledged support for the BDS movement. Unfortunately, Israel by its daily actions proves that nothing else will suffice.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Linda Spalding

      i have just returned from the West Bank. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen very routinely and the human cost is too enormous to weigh – constant humiliation, constant oppression, constant threat and the flaunting of laws. Hard to imagine a more inhumane or illegal occupation of one people by another

      Reply to Comment
    5. Our organization, Friends of Tent of Nations North America (FOTONNA) has worked with the Nassar family since 2007. We have sponsored tours in the U.S. for Daoud Nassar where he tells the facts of the family story and refuses to get into the religious or political debates. He talks truth to power, and the loss of these trees was felt like a personal blow to his soul. Is it the same as losing a human life? No, and Daoud would be the first to say so. When you add up all the other inhumane actions, however, the entire burden is hard to bear.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Juke

      I have followed this amazing family’s story for some time; in awe of the oasis of peace, compassion and faith that they have created in the midst of what must at times be very frightening and utterly unfair circumstances. They have shown the patience of saints; having endured years of court appearences and harrassment from the military it’s beyond appaulling and cruel, It’s diabolical! All for wanting to live on their own land, welcoming anyone who wishes to visit. Yet, like Christ, they’ve turned the other cheek and turned anger into strength and courage. Please, all get behind this truly amazing family and write to your political representitives to make them aware. Maybe, this one small story can make a big impact and show those in power what peace looks like.

      Reply to Comment

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