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Confrontation in Gush Etzion

Women in Green video: Arabs try to take over land in Gush Etzion, Jewish activists respond and reap a "small victory in a great struggle."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/13/2010, 4:58 PM / Last Update: 10/14/2010, 2:00 PM

Gershon Elison

Just south of Jerusalem, a battle of wills between Jews and Arabs is underway for control of state-owned lands. The latest clash took place in Netzer, Gush Etzion - and the Jews won.

Of late, Women in Green and residents of Gush Etzion have concentrated their efforts on the lands between Alon Shvut and Elazar, just a few kilometers south of Jerusalem. The Women in Green organization has held several events there, against efforts by  local Arabs who are "taking over hundreds of dunams [quarter-acres] of land in order to prevent Jewish contiguity between Elazar, Alon Shvut and Efrat.  They plant fruit trees and build terraces there, even though this is not privately-owned Arab land but rather State-owned lands."

This past Friday, Jewish activists set out to plow two plots of  land in Netzer, adjacent to a spot where Arabs set fire a week ago to a water pipe that supplies water to hundreds of recently-planted Jewish trees. 

 

After some two hours of tractor work, an Arab clan gathered around the tractor and began shouting, cursing, claiming the land was theirs, and preventing further Jewish work there. Three days later, early Monday morning at 5:00 AM, Jewish pioneers returned and embarked on a mass planting operation. Upon its completion, two Jews remained to connect  the irrigation system.
 
Justice is Served
But several Arabs then arrived on the scene and renewed their aggression, trying to uproot the newly-planted seedlings. Both sides called the police, and justice was finally served when Civil Administration officials arrived, examined the maps, and announced that the area was indeed State-owned and not, as the Arabs had claimed, Arab land. 
 
"This was a small victory in the grand struggle over the lands of Eretz Yisrael throughout Judea and Samaria," said Women in Green leader Nadia Matar. "Had our activists not planted on those lands, the Arabs would have taken control of them - and these lands, too, would have been lost to the Jewish People. [Our] determined stand forced the Civil Administration to intervene and admit that these areas are Jewish."
 
"It's sad that the Civil Administration is not doing its job," said activist leader Yehudit Katzover, "of preserving and maintaining these lands of the Jewish People for the Jewish People - and so we have to do it."
 
The Jewish interest is not for financial or real estate profit, the activists emphasize, "but solely to hold on to our land reserves for the Jewish People."