BEIT JALA | BETHLEHEM
On the morning of 17 August 2015, Issa Ash Shatleh was informed by a neighbour that the Israeli authorities were uprooting his olive trees.
Some 30 olive trees, the majority of them hundreds of years old, were uprooted to make way for the route of the Barrier in the Cremisan area.
❝Each of these olive trees can yield 16 kilograms of good olive oil, enough for me and my four brothers. But it is more than the monetary value. These trees are hundreds of years old, planted by my ancestors. I have so many memories of both good and bad times associated with them since I was a boy.❞
Although the trees were replanted by the Israeli authorities, Issa complains, ❝Look how close together they are. Some of them have been replanted on my neighbour’s land.❞
Asked if they will survive and bear fruit in the forthcoming olive harvest, he shrugs.
Issa’s land lies under the bridge that forms part of the rerouting of Road 60 in 1994 to enable settlers to travel between Jerusalem and Hebron and bypass Bethlehem. Part of his land was used by the excavators and bulldozers and trees were damaged. He also lost some trees in 2008 when another section of the Barrier was built in the area.
Issa says that he did not receive official notification from the Israeli authorities to inform him that his land was being requisitioned to build the Barrier.
He also expressed concern about the proposed gate system that the Israeli authorities claim will guarantee him access to land soon to be isolated by the Barrier, given the experience of farmers in the rest of the West Bank.
❝This Wall is contrary to international law,❞ he insists, citing the International Court of Justice advisory opinion. He points to the nearby Gilo and Har Gilo settlements. ❝It’s all about the settlements.❞