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Reclaiming Land in Iraq Burin

Carrying the trees toward the field for planting.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, four MPTers traveled to the village of Iraq Burin to take part in olive tree planting. The tree planting was both a protest and a celebration, as the 45 trees were planted on land that had been returned to the village from the illegal settlement of Har Bracha.

Twenty-five acres had been confiscated from Iraq Burin to build the settlement, and Iraq Burin has been holding weekly protests against the confiscation since the summer of 2009, with a break for Ramadan. (For more details on Iraq Burin and the Har Bracha settlement, see an earlier MPT blog, August 22, 2009 http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-08-28T05%3A33%3A00%2B03%3A00&max-results=10) Land was returned to the community with a request that there be no more protests.

The MPTers marched up a hill in Iraq Burin with farmers from Iraq Burin, Palestinian activists from nearby communities and about 30 internationals, including a contingent of 17 Norwegians working with Stop the Wall. The group planted the trees, chanted, and danced within view of the fence surrounding the settlement. Several soldiers arrived in two vehicles as the event was wrapping up, and watched from behind the fence around the settlement. Although there has been violence from soldiers at previous demonstrations in Iraq Burin (see MPT blog of 9/26/2009 http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2009/09/return-to-iraq-burin.html), there was none on this day. As of Thursday, 10/22, the newly planted trees were still standing in Iraq Burin.

Digging a hole.

Planting a tree.

Soldiers observe the end of the demonstration.

On the way home, the MPTers stopped in a bookstore and heard the owner’s story of his son’s imprisonment. His son is serving three life sentences for killing three Israeli soldiers. According to the father, his son committed this act after a friend was killed by Israeli Occupation Forces, and after he heard a news story about a little girl being killed by Israeli Forces. According to the bookstore owner, every two weeks he takes his family to see his son. They leave their home around 3 a.m. and return about 9 p.m. The 18-hour trip includes several bus transfers, long waits and repetitive security checks, only to be able to see their loved one for about 45 minutes. Because the prison food is so bad, the father brings money so his son can purchase food from the prison store. He also brings clothes as the prison is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. He said his son and the prisoners whose families have some resources share food and clothes with prisoners from poor families.
A poster of the bookstore owner's imprisoned son.

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