Migron’s Palestinian Neighbors Waiting to See if They Get Land Back

High Court rejects compromise between government and settlers - evacuation set for August 1.

Residents of the West Bank village of Burqa are waiting for "real results" before celebrating this week's High Court of Justice ruling ordering the demolition of the Migron outpost, which Burqa residents say was built on land owned by Palestinians in their village.

In its ruling, the High Court rejected a compromise between the government and the settlers that would have delayed the evacuation of Migron, which the court had previously said must take place by the end of this month. The evacuation is now set for August 1.

The Migron outpost.
Emil Salman

"It's not the first time the High Court of Justice has ordered the eviction of settlers from our land," said Abdel Mun'im Ma'atan, who was one of the petitioners in the court case. "For the time being, everything is on paper, but we want to see real results, on the ground."

Ma'atan said he hoped the coming months would be calm but that it was too early to make plans for the land on which Migron has been located for more than a decade.

Abdel Kader Sumarin, who heads the Burqa village council, was cautiously optimistic.

"We hope this time the state enforces [the ruling] and that our children will be able to enjoy the use of the land," he said. "But based on past experience, it's understandable that people are skeptical and wary."

Sumarin and Ma'atan got angry when confronted with the settlers' contention that the villagers have not proven their ownership of the land on which Migron was built.

The ownership of the land was recorded in the land registry by Jordanian authorities before the Six-Day War, Sumarin said.

"We proved in court that no one sold their plot," he said, adding that the settlers' claim that the land was purchased by Israelis was based on forged documents.

Shlomo Zecharia, one of the lawyers who represented Peace Now and the Burqa villagers before the High Court, said there was no factual or legal basis to the contention that Palestinians had abandoned the land on which Migron was built. Settlers have argued both that they purchased the land and that it was abandoned.

Burqa residents said any joy they might have felt over the ruling was dampened by an attack on Saturday, in which they say Israeli Jews threw stones at three village residents who were tending livestock at the time.

One Burqa resident, a relative of Ma'atan, was injured by shrapnel during clashes with the Israelis, eyewitnesses told an investigator for B'Tselem, which investigates human rights violations in the West Bank.

Burqa residents said the stone throwing began about 9:30 A.M. on Saturday and that the shooting took place after several young village residents threw stones back at the Israelis.

Witnesses said at least one of the Israelis was armed.

Israel Defense Forces troops arrived on the scene about an hour after the clashes began and separated the two sides, witnesses said.

The IDF said it was investigating a report that a Palestinian was injured in a clash with settlers.

Several months ago, a mosque was set alight in Burqa. No suspects have been arrested.