Tue, 26 Mar 2002:

Urgent International Letter Campaign

Prevent a Crime Against Humanity

Stop the Expulsion of the Palestinian Cave Dwellers from

the South Hebron Hills

From: "amos gvirtz" amosg@shefayim.org.il

I send you here our request for letter campaign/ Please spred it as much as you can.

Thank you! Amos Gvirtz

 

Three months ago we launched a letter campaign to stop the expulsion of the cave dwellers south of Hebron. Our efforts resulted in the government's request to postpone deliberations in the High Court of Justice. Their intention was to hold the deliberations when public attention was diverted.

We believe that this terrible act of expulsion can only be achieved when there is no public attention. Therefore we appeal to you again to write to Israel's ministers, to Israeli Embassies in your countries, and to your own Foreign Ministries demanding that no expulsion of Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills be allowed.

Your assistance is very important to the struggle.

In the first third of the 19th century (1830s), poverty-stricken Palestinian families left their villages in the South Hebron region and went to eke out their livelihoods in the surrounding hills and fields on lands they could
afford to purchase on the outskirts of the existing villages living in the numerous and spacious caves spread throughout the area (today the south West Bank).

In the generations that followed these families developed a unique culture and way of life based on their sheep herding, agriculture and cave dwelling. the occupationled to expropriation of the palestinian farmer's land due to establishment of military bases, declaration of certain areas as "drilling zones", closed military zones.

From the early eighties, the israeli government confiscated more land as it began building settlements in the area. Today this scattered pastoral palestinian population numbers a few thousand - but their very existence is now in danger.

THEY ARE FACING IMMINENT EXPULSION BY THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES.

In November 1999 the decades-long harrassment of this population reached a new level when the Israeli army violently expelled some 750 inhabitants (mostly children and women) from their homes and land. Israeli peace and human rights organizations mounted a major public campaign to return the cave-dwellers to their homes, and the High Court of Justice issued an temporary injunction to this effect in March 2000.

As a result of the Court ruling things remained relatively quiet until July 2001 when, without any warning, the Israeli army and Civil Administration tore through a wide area with bulldozers - destroying caves and other dwellings, stopping up water wells with rocks and dirt, mowing down crops and livestock, and expelling hundreds of people.

Since then Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights organizationshave mobilized in defense of this vulnerable population - but the army and the settlers reign supreme on the ground.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

IT IS CLEAR THAT THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT ASPIRES TO EXPEL THE POPULATION OF CAVE DWELLERS, TO REINFORCE ITS OWN SETTLEMENTS IN THE AREA, AND TO EVENTUALLY ANNEX THIS TERRITORY TO ISRAEL "CLEANSED" OF ITS PALESTINIAN INHABITANTS.

Lately we have been hearing from Palestinians who have been repeatedly haraassed and harmed by settlers. Their complaints to the police receive no attention and are ignored. Complaints to the military authorities and to the government are no more successful. It must be remembered that even now the settlers continue to build new settlements in the region, as they do in many parts of the occupied territories.

PLEASE WRITE TO ISRAEL'S PRIME MINISTER, DEFENSE MINSTER AND FOREIGN MINISTER, TO THE ISRAELI AMBASSADOR IN YOUR COUNTRY, AND TO YOUR OWN FOREIGN MINISTRY - DEMANDING A STOP TO THE HARRASSMENT AND EXPULSION OF THE PALESTINIANS FROM THE SOUTH HEBRON HILLS, AND WARNING THAT SUCH CRIMES WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN THE 21ST CENTURY.

A sample letter:

Dear Minister....
I am saddened by the ongoing strife between the Israelis and the Palestinians and by the many victims it has created.
I find it difficult to understand Israel's intention to expell the Palestinian population - many of whom live in caves - from the South Hebron hills.

I was amazed to learn that the Barak government expelled 750 residents from this area at the same time that it was promoting the Peace Process. This puts a question mark on the true intentions of the Israeli government.

Other expulsions committed by your government between July and October of 2001, as well as the construction of new and expansion of old settlements throughout the period do not lend credibility to Israel's desire for a cease fire and for peace.

I consider the expulsion of Palestinian residents a military act of war against defenceless civillians. This is an act defined as a war crime and it violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.

I appeal to you to prevent this terrible action and to abide by the the Fourth Geneva Convention in all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

For more information you can visit the following website:

www.southebron.com.

 

Israeli organizations active in defense of the South Hebron Hills Palestinians include: Alternative Information Center (AIC), Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bat Shalom, B'tselem, Gush Shalom, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Peace Now, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Ta'ayush - Arab-Jewish Partnership. We do it in cooperation with the Palestinian Land Defence Committee.

Addresses of protest letters (it is preferable to send faxes):
Israeli Defense Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan st.
Tel-Aviv 61909, Israel
e-mail: sar@mod.gov.il
Fax: ++972-3-696 2757 / ++972-3-691 6940 / ++972-3-691 7915

CC to:
Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres
Fax:+972-2-5303704
sar@mofa.gov.il
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
fax:(+972-2) 566-4838 or 651-3955 or 651-2631
webmaster@pmo.gov.il

US Secretary of State Colin Powell,
Fax: +1-202-261-8577;
"Secretary od State, Colin Powell" secretary@state.gov

US President George W. Bush
Fax:(202) 456-2461
president@whitehouse.gov

Mr. Terje Rod Larsen
Personal Representative of the Secretary General
to the United Nations in Palestine
Fax: + 972 8 282 0966
unsco@palnet.com

Oversettelse av forslag til brev (Translation to Danish of the sample letter above):

Kære minister ...
Jeg er bedrøvet over den fortsatte strid mellem israelere og palæstinensere og over de mange ofre.
Jeg har svært ved at forstå Israels forsøg på at fordrive den palæstinensiske befolkning - mange af dem bor i grotter - fra det sydlige Hebrons bjerge. Jeg blev forbavset over at høre at Baraks regering havde 750 af disse mennesker der bor i hulerne i området samtidig med at forsøge at fremme fredsprocessen. Det sætter spørgsmålstegn ved de virkelige hensigter af Israels regering. Andre fordrivelser foretaget mellem juli og oktober 2001 af den israelske regering, samtidig med anlæggelse af nye og udbygning af gamle bosættelser bidrager ikke til Israels troværdighed med hensyn til ønske om våbenhvile og fred.

Jeg anser fordrivelse af de palæstinensiske beboere som en militær krigsaktion mod forsvarsløse civile. Det er defineret som en
krigsforbrydelse og overtrædelse af den 4.Geneve Konvention.

Jeg appelerer til dig om at forhindre denne frygtelige aktion og få Israel til at opfylde den 4. Geneve Konvention i alle de besatte områder siden 1967.

Med venlig hilsen


Baggrunds information
I 1830'erne forlod fattigdomramte palæstinensere deres landsbyer syd for Hebron og prøvede at overleve i omkrigliggende bjerge og på jord som de havde råd til at erhverve i udkanten af de eksisterende landsbyer. De lavede et stort antal rummelige huler i området som nu er den sydlige del af vestbredden.

I løbet af de næste generationer har disse mennesker udviklet en unik kultur og leveform baseret på fåreflokke , landbrug og
hulebeboelse. Besættelsen har medført konfiskering af de palæstinsiske småbønders jord ved at oprette militærbaser og erklære området for lukket militær område.

Fra de tidlige 1980'er konfiskerede Israels regering yderligere jord og bgyndte at bygge bosættelser i området. Idag udgør denne
spredte, pastorale palæstinensiske befolkning nogle tusinde mennesker - men deres eksistensgrundlag er nu i fare. For 3 måneder siden prøvede en gruppe israelere at stoppe fordrivelsen af hulebeboerne.

Den israelske højesterets behandling af sagen er blevet udskudt efter henstilling fra regeringen. Dens hensigt har formodentlig været at få en afgørelse når der var mindre opmærksomhed om sagen.

Den israelske gruppe mener at denne frygtelige handling kun kan lade sig gøre når der ikke er opmærksomhed omkring sagen. Derfor anmoder gruppen om at vi skriver til israelske ministre, til den israelske ambassade og til vores udenrigsminister..

Vores hjælp udefra er vigtig for disse mennesker.

Udenrigsminister Per Stig Møller
Asiatisk Plads 2
1448 København K

Israels Ambassade
Lundevangsvej 4
2900 Hellerup

 

 

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