Arabs Uproot Trees in Etzion Bloc – but Jews Stand Fast
Activists Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar related the latest chapter in their never-flagging struggle for the hill of Netzer in the Etzion Bloc in an e-mail sent Sunday. The events described took place on Friday, as the Sabbath was nearing:
"Our thanks to the anonymous Alon Shvut resident who called Women in Green on Friday, reporting that from her window she could see the Arabs uprooting and burning the trees that activists from Women in Green and the Netzer Group had planted just an hour earlier in Netzer, on the state lands that the Arabs had plowed."
"This was not the first time, and apparently not the last, either.
"The Arabs sense the weakness of Israeli rule, read the geopolitical map, and the internal confusion in Israel regarding the status of Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel, ed.].
"Last Wednesday, as we do almost every day, Women in Green patrolled the area of Netzer and discovered that the Arabs had plowed state lands. An additional clarification was conducted with the relevant authorities, and [it confirmed that] these are indeed state lands over which the Arabs are trying to take control, by plowing. It was immediately decided to plant on these lands, to prevent the Arabs from doing so.
"In very high spirits, about 60 eucalyptus trees were planted by those attending the weekly class on the hills of Judea, on 'The Blessing of Children' that was delivered by Rebbitzin Geula Twersky.
"Our high spirits quickly turned to sorrow, searing pain, and a feeling of hillul Hashem - the desecration of G-d's Name, when someone looking from the nearby Hachish hill in Alon Shvut called to inform us: 'The Arabs are uprooting and burning the trees that you planted!'
"Following the telephone call, an emergency mobilization of activists was conducted. The time was 2 p.m. - Shabbat [the Sabbath, ed] was in two and a half hours.... We returned to Netzer and, once again, planted the same plot with another 60 eucalyptus trees. A confrontation developed with the Arabs, who were still there. The Arabs, while cursing and trying to attack the Jews, called the police. Women in Green called the IDF, and informed the Civil Administration.
"The security forces arrived at the area with the limited Friday order of forces, even though it is known that there is an intensive Arab presence on the ground, specifically on Fridays and Shabbatot. When the forces were already in the area, it transpired that they were incapable of doing anything, and were not succeeding in removing the Arabs.
"In the meantime, the savior of the Arabs arrived, the radical left activist Ezra Nawi, who is concerned for the 'unfortunate' Arabs who are stealing state lands in the southern Hevron hills, and now, so we learned, also in Gush Etzion. Clearly, the Arabs have contacts. This time they alerted Ezra Nawi; the last time it was the United Nations.
Obviously, the Arab effort to steal Jewish lands on the hills of Judea and Samaria is well organized and amply funded, by local and international elements.
"Shabbat is fast approaching...
"The IDF lost no time in issuing a closed military zone order in order to remove the Arabs. The Jews were told: 'Leave, we're removing the Arabs.' But the activists saw that the IDF was not succeeding in removing the Arabs, and they declared that if the Arabs were not removed, they would organize Shabbat at Netzer.
"An Arabic-speaking liaison officer was summoned to explain to the Arabs the meaning of the military order, and that they must leave the area.
"The activists rubbed their eyes in disbelief to see with what courtesy the IDF soldiers treated the Arabs who had just uprooted and burned the Jews' trees. What gentleness, what attentiveness – so distant from the way that 'settlers' are dragged off, beaten, and imprisoned. It's no wonder that the Arabs have no fear of Israeli rule. There is no deterrence, no fear, just infinite insolence and provocations.
"In the end, the security forces, seeing the determination of the activists who did not intend to leave the area, despite the pressure of the Shabbat eve, and realizing that the confrontations were continuing, succeeded in removing the Arabs. Thank G-d, as this is being written, the planted trees stand tall and wait for rain.
"This is the process for all the area that we redeem on the lands of Netzer: the Jews plant, the Arabs uproot and burn, the Jews plant, and this goes on and on. The efforts, the resolve, and the dedication of the area's Jewish residents will determine the future.
With G-d's help, the residents of Gush Etzion are continuing the history of stubbornly cleaving to the hill country with their very hands. This was clearly understood by the frustrated Arab who said to the Women in Green and Netzer activists: 'I see that you are strong and will not leave here.'"
According to the Wikipedia entry about Nawi, he was convicted of statutory rape of a 15 year old Arab boy in 1995, after their relationship had been reported to Israeli police by the boy's parents in 1992. After plea bargaining before the Jerusalem High Court, he was finally sentenced to six months prison time.