Four thousand dunams of land remain in the village of Ein Mahel located near the city of Nazareth. Although Israeli forces have seized more than 13,000 dunums from the village over the past years, it recently launched a new campaign to confiscate more in order to impose the Upper Illit settlement.Villagers quickly rallied, declared their rejection to the new scheme, and rushed to form a localized nonviolent popular resistance to the Israeli actions.
President of the People's Committee for Defense of Ein Mahel, Habib Allah Ghanim, said Saturday, “The new Israeli scheme, if implemented, will encircle Ein Mahel. The village has already been turned into an effective ghetto, but this will compound the suffering of the people who have lived through harsh conditions in the past few years with Israeli forces targeting their land.”
For years the 17,000 dunam village of Ein Mahel has been eaten away at, subjected to the slow process of land seizure and ethnic cleansing. Several months ago indicators that the Israelis would be increasing its violations began to loom. Ghanim said that the Israeli Department of Public Prosecutions issued notices to dozens of land owners that they were required to evacuate their lands. That included being forced from land confiscated in 1976 which the original residents refused to accept and remained.
On either side of the street, that is the only remaining entrance to the village, is an area heavily wooded with thousands of dunams of olive trees. The Israeli intention is to build a Jewish settlement there. Not only is this illegal, but residents will then be entirely hemmed in.
The nonviolent resistance is well organized in the village with practical steps being taken. The case is being presented in Israeli court, international organizations are being notified, popular protests are underway, but so are the repercussions to nonviolent resistance. Israeli intelligence has taken one of the village leaders on charges of organizing a popular demonstration.