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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

7 April 2001
Subject: Four arrests and a tree

Yasmine with chain around her neck, mixed grief and horror on her face, soldiers and trees in background

6 April 2001 - 23:55

Brief Recap:
Two days ago, Israeli army bulldozers arrived to knock down the olive tree grove that belongs to the Palestinian residents of Dir Istya. The army claims that villagers hide behind the trees and throw stones at passing vehicles. Some 150 trees were already mauled before peace activists in the vicinity managed to arrive and sit down in front of the bulldozers, preventing the destruction of the entire grove of 1,500. A subsequent Supreme Court appeal was denied, although the Court limited the size of the area that the army could legally clear, and the peace activists camped out and waited for the bulldozers to return.

Neta and Yasmine chained to bulldozer, surrounded by soldiers, with olive grove and far hills around them

At about noon today, the bulldozers returned, but two young women, Neta Golan (29), an Israeli Jew, and Yasmine Jayal (22), a German-Palestinian now living in Ramallah, were waiting for them. Neta and Yasmine had wrapped chains around their bodies and chained themselves to olive trees in the path of the bulldozer. The soldiers demanded that they leave, but the women refused. The soldiers went off to find tools to break the chains. Villagers watching the confrontation knelt down in prayer. Upon their return, the soldiers managed fairly quickly to break through the chains, “liberate” the trees, and arrest both Neta and Yasmine. Two other young Israeli peace activists who had just arrived on the scene, Shelly Nativ and Eyal Oron, were arrested with them.

After fairly brief interrogations, Shelly and Eyal were released, but they remained on site to support Neta and Yasmine. Neta and Yasmine refused to sign the terms of release – that they would not enter any “closed military zones.” So now, 12 hours later, they remain under arrest and are currently being moved to Kishon jail near Haifa, where there are “cells for women.”

If you live near Kishon, you would be performing a patriotic deed by going to Kishon right now and welcoming Neta and Yasmine with a voice of solidarity. They will undoubtedly spend the Passover seder not at home.

Gila Svirsky

P.S. After all that, a loss of only one tree was reported, as the army bulldozer backed into it while trying to turn around. But it’s not over yet.

At-Home with Gila Svirsky

Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
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Text © 2001 Gila Svirsky. The featured graphics are from a larger collection at Dir Istia and are available in larger size upon request. Video footage of the event is also available. For further information, contact Amir Terkel by email at or telephone 051-843791.

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