HCJ 55/23 Shehadeh v. Military Commander of the West Bank

Date of submission: January 2, 2023

Majd Shehadeh and his family are farmers who own a plot of land in the village of a-Naqurah. They cultivated their land without any restrictions until 2000, when the Second Intifada began. From 2000 to 2007, the Israeli military denied access to the land altogether due to its proximity to the illegal settlement of Shavei Shomron.

Starting in 2007, the Israeli authorities allowed Majd and his family to cultivate their land under restrictive conditions – only with advance coordination with the Israeli military, only twice a year during the plowing and harvest seasons and only for a few days each time. As a result, the family has lost income from crops that require constant tending and has been forced to rely solely on olive trees, which require relatively little care.

Beginning in 2017, Majd noticed Israeli settlers were stealing the olive crops and damaging the trees. In October 2021, he discovered that Israeli settlers were cultivating part of his plot and had fenced it off. Majd reported the illegal takeover of his land to the DCO and filed a complaint with the police, which sent officers to the plot, but has heard nothing about his complaint ever since.

In January 2022, Yesh Din contacted the Civil Administration on Majd’s behalf, demanding it put an end to the illegal invasion and secure Majd’s access to his land. Yesh Din asked the Civil Administration to exercise the powers vested in the military under the Disruptive Use of Private Land Order enacted to counter cases of Israelis illegally farming privately owned Palestinian land. Neither the original communication nor a reminder received a response.

In May 2022, Majd received permission to access his land for plowing. He immediately noticed that the Israeli settlers’ takeover had expanded. Land had been leveled and cultivated, and more trees were damaged.

Yesh Din sent another reminder to the Civil Administration. This communication was left unanswered as well, allowing the invasion to continue expanding. A few months later, the settlers brought in horses, turning the site into a farm of sorts.

In January 2023, after his appeals went unheeded for nearly a year, with Yesh Din’s help, Majd petitioned the High Court of Justice to have the Israeli military remove the invasion into his property. The petition asserts the Israeli authorities must exercise their powers under the Disruptive Use of Private Land Order and protect the owner’s private property.

The petition goes on to state that the absurdity of the current situation is outrageous – the petitioner is not permitted to access his own land, the land his family cultivated and drew income from for decades, while Israeli settlers trespass on it, cultivate it, steel his crop, uproot and break his trees and raise horses on it.

The petition stresses that the Israeli authorities are responsible for protecting Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Israel carries this responsibility under both international humanitarian law and Israeli law, and it has been recognized in the rulings of the Supreme Court.

 Petition status: Pending