AP 61464-12-22, Ramadan v. Commander of Israeli Army Forces in the West Bank et al.
Date of submission: December 28, 2022
‘Adnan Ramadan from the village of Tell in the Nablus District owns a plot of land near his home. This plot, used for agriculture, has been passed down the generations in Ramadan’s family, and he has tended to it and grown olive trees on it, among other things. In 2002, the illegal outpost of Havat Gilad was built not far from the family’s plot. Since then, Palestinians whose lands are located in the vicinity of the outpost have been suffering from constant harassment by the Israeli settlers in the area.
In the wake of the illegal outpost’s establishment and the violent attacks on Palestinian farmers, the military began imposing restrictions, not on the settlers, but on the Palestinian landowners, preventing them from accessing their lands and cultivating them freely. Ever since the establishment of the illegal outpost of Havat Gilad, Ramadan, like other landowners in the area, has been required to coordinate his arrival at his own land ahead of time with the Civil Administration and the Israeli authorities. Israel permits Palestinian farmers in the area to access their plots only twice a year, in the plowing season and during the harvest, and only for a handful of days each time, an extremely short period of time, which obviously precludes proper cultivation.
Ramadan kept accessing his plot, with coordination, to harvest the family’s olive trees, despite the obstacles the Israeli authorities have placed in his path and despite the presence of Israeli settlers at the Havat Gilad outpost. In early 2018, he noticed work was being carried out on his plot. Israelis who had trespassed and invaded his land erected several structures. Additionally, a road was paved from the Havat Gilad outpost to the plot, and utility poles were installed along it. The presence of settlers has since kept Ramadan from accessing his land.
In April 2018, Ramadan filed a complaint with the Israel Police regarding the illegal invasion and the erection of structures on his land. A police investigator told him at the time that the Israeli authorities were aware of the invasion and the military had issued an order to remove the settlers from his land. Still, and despite demolition orders pending against several structures in the plot, in practice, the Israeli authorities have removed none of the illegal structures built on Ramadan’s land, and the settlers remain there, undisturbed. Without enforcement against the invasion of the land and the illegal construction, the settlers have put up additional structures on Ramadan’s land over time, growing the cluster into a new outpost of sorts. According to Ramadan, as of the end of 2022, roughly 30 Israelis live at the site, while he and his family have been unable to access their own land for four and a half years.
Israeli settlers from the outpost built on Ramadan’s land have attacked Palestinian farmers. They also graze their sheep in the area, allowing the animals to destroy agricultural plots nearby. Over the past few years, Ramadan has made several requests for coordination to access his land, but to no avail. Though he and other landowners have come to the area with a military escort, they were repeatedly driven off their lands by the settlers at the outpost, who were aided by the outpost’s Civilian Security Coordinator.
Ramadan last visited his plot in September 2021, when he received the military’s permission and arrived with a representative of the DCO. However, when he approached his plot, with coordination, he was pelted with stones and driven away by the settlers.
In 2020, Ramadan, represented by Yesh Din, contacted the Civil Administration (which is responsible for enforcement against illegal construction), demanding the immediate removal of the illegal structures from his land. Six months later, after further communications, and two years after his original police complaint, the Civil Administration told Ramadan the authorities would enforce the law “according to their priorities and resources.” Ramadan, represented by Yesh Din, contacted the Civil Administration repeatedly, updating the authorities that the outpost was growing and the settlers’ criminal activity in the area continued. The communications noted that despite the illegal construction and the demolition orders issued for several of the structures, the Israeli authorities had taken no enforcement action. The authorities either ignored Ramadan’s communications or provided impertinent replies.
On December 28, 2022, Ramadan petitioned the Jerusalem District Court, represented by Yesh Din, to have the military and the Civil Administration exercise their powers and remove all illegal structures on his land. The petition argues the authorities have been ineffective in the face of ongoing criminality by settlers who, with every day that passes, are turning the cluster of illegal construction on the plot into a new, illegal, Israeli settlement. The petition stresses that despite Ramadan’s repeated requests and the lengthy period of time that had elapsed, the Israeli authorities have elected to shirk their duty to enforce the law, adding: “Respondents’ conduct constitutes a violation of their [the military and the Civil Administration] most fundamental obligations under international humanitarian law as the rulers of the occupied territory, to protect the rights of the petitioner – his private property first and foremost, as well as his freedom of movement.”
Petition status: Pending.