HEBRON: Soldiers prevent CPTers from helping friend prune vineyard

CPTnet March 8, 2004 HEBRON: Soldiers prevent CPTers from helping friend
prune vineyard

On Thursday February 26, the Hebron team and a CPT delegation attempted to
help a Palestinian friend prune his vineyards as part of a nonviolent
witness near the Israeli settlement of Harsina.

Nafez Assaily, a local nonviolent activist and founder of the Library On
Wheels for Nonviolence and Peace program in Hebron, owns a parcel of land
adjacent to the Harsina settlement outside Hebron. An inheritance from his
father, the land behind the house was an income-generating grape arbor until
the Israeli military constructed a road and a fence that now separates the
grape arbor from the Assaily home.

While the grape arbor legally belongs to the Assaily family, Assaily must
obtain permission from the Israeli military to cross the Israeli constructed
fence and road in order to reach his land. Every time Assaily calls Israeli
officials for permission, his calls go unanswered. When Assaily told
Israeli soldiers about his problem, soldiers responded by saying, "If there
is no answer, you cannot work."

As a challenge to the illegal restrictions placed on him, Assaily asked CPT
to join him in pruning vines in his grape arbor. Assaily and CPTers entered
by passing through an opening in the fence, crossing the patrol road and
crawling through destroyed vine supports. As the group tended to several
vines, settlement guards called on Israeli soldiers to order Assaily and
CPTers out of Assaily's field.

Israeli soldiers confronted Assaily and several CPTers. After some
discussion, Assaily asked CPTers to follow the soldiers' orders and return
to the other side of the fence. The group continued to repair areas of the
Assaily property on the other side of the fence that Israeli workers damaged
during its construction.

Israeli soldiers proceeded to interrogate one member of the group, a
Palestinian friend of the CPT team. They confiscated her ID card and told
her they would search her home. Two CPTers went to her house to provide a
presence. Six soldiers searched the home two hours later.

At the same time, Israeli soldiers forced entrance into several near-by
homes. CPTers observed and photographed as soldiers forced a young
Palestinian man to lead them through his home and break into a neighbor's
home. Palestinians told the CPT team that the soldiers were looking for
evidence of fence tampering. Local journalists confirmed reports that the
section of fence in question was actually removed by Harsina settlers.

At their requests, CPTers spent the night with Assaily and the Palestinian
friend of the team whose home had earlier been searched by soldiers. The
soldiers had threatened them with night searches, but did not carry out
these threats.