RAMALLAH, May 9 (JMCC) - An Israeli university professor describes days
spent defending the Palestinian villagers of Susya from the harassment of nearby settlers in this account published by the Palestine Monitor
Here is a lesson in reality in the south Hebron hills. In November, the family plowed the main field and sowed it with barley and wheat. In December, settlers came and plowed over the fledgling shoots. The family sowed again, and now it is harvest time—but two weeks ago the settlers invited the police to arrest Mahmud on some trumped-up charge, and the police acceded with alacrity to this request. He spent 24 hours in one of the ugliest lock-ups in the country, handcuffed and footcuffed much of the time. When they finally brought him before a judge, the latter could find no evidence of any possible violation that could be attributed to this man, but the judge fined him anyway with a 5000-shekel bond—a huge sum of money for a Palestinian family of small-scale farmers—and also ruled that he could not approach his fields for 14 days. If you have ever met a farmer, you know what this means.
Mahmud is that rarest of beings: a really good man. You know this from the first instant you meet him. Decency and goodness and good cheer radiate from him, and from his sons as well. He tells me the sorry story without acrimony but with a kind of aching bewilderment.
I don’t understand the judge. He could find nothing against me, but still he ruled that I have to pay and have to stay away from my fields. Where is the law? Why should it lie? And how can Danny the settler stand in front of me and lie to my face? I thought I’d go crazy in the jail; I’m a farmer, I am always outside in the fields and the open air, not confined and chained.
“After 24 hours, your whole body aches. Then they bring you to the court and keep you there, handcuffed, for a whole day with nothing to eat or drink, nothing, your bones hurt, and when you finally come before the judge you can’t find the words. I and my family own 350 dunams, all the way up to and beyond the checkpoint, and I lease this field from Hawamdi and have all the documents to prove it; the Supreme Court also confirmed this, but the settlers still harass us day by day. I submitted a complaint to the police, and you know what happened? Nothing at all. But today you are here, and this is as life should be, Arabs and Jews working together as friends.