HCJ 748/22, ‘Id v. Commander of Israeli Army Forces in the West Bank et al

Date of submission: January 31, 2022

A’amar ‘Id is a resident of the village Burin and the registered owner of a plot of farmland. For decades ‘Id and his relatives cultivated their land and relied on their olive, almond and fig trees for their living. They also planted seasonal crops and grains in a different area of their plot.

Until 2000 the family was able to reach the plot and cultivate it without any restrictions. But since then, the ‘Id family, like other farmers in the area, suffer from recurring attacks carried out on and by their privately owned land. This violence comes from the settlement Yitzhar or its outposts, which are located by Palestinian land.

Paradoxically, as a result of Israeli settlers’ harassment the army imposed restrictions on the Palestinian farmers. The farmers’ access to their land was then limited to twice annually, during plowing season and during the harvest and subject to coordination with Israeli authorities, which frequently prevented the landowners from properly cultivating their crops.

Even when dates were coordinated for the Palestinian farmers to access their land during plowing season and harvest, the family encountered violent harassment from Israelis on their privately owned land. The Israelis threw rocks at them, rolled boulders into their plot from a nearby hill, damaged their tools, torched olive trees and uprooted saplings. The civilian security coordinator (CSC) of the settlement Yitzhar systematically prevented the ‘Id family from cultivating the area where they grew seasonal crops and repeatedly clarified that he is the highest authority in the area.

In April 2020, Israelis apparently arrived from the settlement Yitzhar or nearby outposts and invaded ‘Id’s land with a tractor and began working. ‘Id informed the Palestinian DCO, and to the best of his knowledge this information was conveyed to the Israeli DCO yet Israeli authorities did not come to the site. After the tractor left, ‘Id approached his land but the armed CSC of Yitzhar made it clear to him that he must leave.

Illegal work by Israelis on this privately owned plot continued daily through May 2020. The trespassers came with farming equipment from the direction of nearby Yitzhar. The trespassers later fenced off the plot and recently set up an irrigation system for what appears to be a vineyard. Not only did Israeli authorities refrain from taking any action to prevent this invasion but soldiers prevented ‘Id from going to his privately owned land, following instructions from the settlement CSC.

In June 2020, ‘Id filed a complaint with the Israeli police for invasion of his private property. After the police failed to respond, Yesh Din’s legal team addressed the Legal Advisor to the West Bank Area four times on behalf of ‘Id, demanding the army enforce its authority and remove the Israeli invaders from ‘Id’s private property. Despite these efforts, for the past two years the invasion of ‘Id’s family’s private property has persisted and expanded without Israeli authorities lifting a finger. The ‘Id family is barred from accessing a large part of the land it relies on for its livelihood and is unable to cultivate, plant crops and saplings or harvest crops.

On January 31, 2022, A’amar ‘Id petitioned the High Court of Justice with the assistance of Yesh Din. The petition demands the army and Civil Administration, who are responsible for enforcing law and order in the West Bank, use their authority and remove the invaders from ‘Id’s private property.

The petition argues that the army’s conduct contradicts the duties incumbent upon it under international humanitarian law and local law, including supreme court jurisprudence and Israeli administrative law. The military commander’s fundamental duty in the occupied territory is to maintain public order. This includes both ensuring the security of the occupying force and protecting the interests of the occupied population, who are considered protected persons according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. According to international law, the occupying force is obligated to protect the property of protected persons.

The petition emphasizes that the army’s conduct contradicts the purpose and the instructions of the Order regarding Land (Interfering Use of Private Land) (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1586) 2007. This order was designed to cope with Israeli agricultural invasions of Palestinian land and enables swift and effective response to invasion of private land (the order provides the invaders using the land 15 days to submit a statement explaining their presence; 15 days after the decision is handed down regarding the statement, the interfering use in question can be halted and removed). According to the Order, leveling and exposing soil, fencing and planting on ‘Id’s plot without his consent constitute interfering use of private land.

The petition concludes that the army, by action and omission, not only prevents A’amar ‘Id from accessing his land freely but also enables and even encourages Israeli settlers, law violating offenders, to enter his land and takeover his private property. In this way, the army’s conduct violates its most fundamental duties under international law and infringes on the landowner’s rights to private property, freedom of movement, human dignity and ability to earn a living and sustain his family with respect.

Petition status: In proceedings