Border Police and Israel Police commanders on Wednesday conducted a preparatory tour ahead of the uprooting of the vineyards owned by Achiya Farm in the Shiloh Valley, which is due to take place in the coming days following a High Court ruling. Residents of Gush Shilo are calling on the public to “get ready for D Day,” and show up to fight the destruction.
Achiya Farm appealed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz asking to reach a compromise according to which the 42 acres of plants would be moved to alternative land after the end of the Shmita year that starts September 7 (planting and replanting are forbidden during the shmita year – DI). The High Court approved this option, but Defense Minister Benny Gantz is refusing the compromise proposal.
According to Kipa, in recent days, the Defense Ministry has expressed a willingness to uproot and replant only about 7.5 acres of olive groves, while the vineyards must be uprooted before Rosh Hashanah because, in Minister Gantz, it’s not possible to replant vines.
In mid-May, the High Court of Justice ordered the Civil Administration to vacate about 42 acres in the Shiloh Valley in Samaria, which are cultivated by Achiya Farm, one of the largest and best-known farms in Judea and Samaria. The justices ordered the state to clear that part of the farm’s plantation by next October.
The case combines three separate petitions from 2013 regarding unregulated land that was claimed by eight Arab petitioners who say they are the heirs of those who had claimed ownership of the land but never completed its registration.
The petition was filed by the NGO Haqel and asked the High Court to employ the most blatantly anti-Jewish legal device in the arsenal of the Civil Administration, the infamous Disruptive Use Order. The DUO allows a Jewish settler who paid in full for his land to be evicted and for his possessions to be removed even if the landowner has not complained if the court or the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories believes the settler is an intruder. To employ the DUO, it is not necessary to prove the Arab ownership of the land, and the burden of proof of ownership is on the Jewish settler, who must show why he or she should not be expelled.
If ever there were a legal device that brought back the reality of Jewish life in Czarist Russia’s Pale of Settlement – this Disruptive Use Order is it.
Activist Amishav Melt who lives in Gush Shilo and is one of the leaders of the campaign to stop the uprooting told Hakol Hayehudi on Wednesday: “The planned destruction of the vineyards is part of the war over sovereignty that’s taking place these days.” He warned that “anyone attempting to present the destruction as a ‘legal problem’ that will be resolved if only the vineyards are relocated or the owners receive increased compensation, evades the overall campaign taking place in the territories of Judea and Samaria – and will wake up one day to find himself in a sovereign Palestinian state that has been established in the abandoned territories of Judea and Samaria.”
The uprooting of the vineyard entails huge losses for Achiya Farm since it would be necessary to plant a new vineyard and then wait a full three years until it is halachically permitted to consume the fruits.
David Zitzer, CEO of Achiya’s Farm, said that “we are in an inconceivable reality that even though the petitioners have not proved land ownership, about half of our farm is going to be uprooted because of a draconian order invented by Civil Administration lawyers and everyone admits it is blatantly immoral.”
The Civil Administration’s “foolish attempt to uproot the farm by surprise during the harvest season and while they are discussing with us a compromise outline to reduce the damage to the economy is no less than a national disgrace,” he charged.
He called on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and “all the ministers of the national camp” in the government to “finally prove that they are really right-wing and stop the uprooting.”