HARBI HASEN 370.
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Harbi Hasen, 71, is waiting to return to his land.
Palestinian businessman said he has wanted to do that for close to 20
“Why can’t I go there?” he asked.
The resident of Dura al-
Qara, near the Beit El settlement, is hopeful that by July 1, Israel will remove
five apartment buildings, which he said were built as a Jewish outpost there
without his permission or knowledge.
For the residents of Beit El, the
hill where Hasen’s land lies is nicknamed “the Ulpana,” and is part of their
The High Court of Justice, however, has sided with Hasen and
has ordered the state to remove five buildings there, because they were built
without the proper permits on private Palestinian property, including that which
belongs to Hasen’s family.
Activists and politicians fighting the edict
plan to ask the Knesset on Wednesday to pass legislation that would
retroactively legalize the homes and offer the Palestinian claimants
But on Monday, as he sat under a tent on the edge of Dura
al-Qara talking to reporters, Hasen said that it was land and justice that he
wanted, not money.
“I am an old man, what would I do with the money?” he
asked. “I have never offered my land for sale. It is land I inherited from my
He said that he was one of 13 inheritors of the land in his
family. He speaks easily and well in English, having lived in Florida, the
Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico for a number of years.
He returned to the
region close to 20 years ago, but not to his land, which Beit El had fenced off.
It was impossible to see what was happening on the property, said
When he along with other owners of the hilltop, two members of the
Yassin family, understood the Israelis had built on it, they turned to the High
Court with the help of Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.
Israelis, he said, presented purchase documents, which were shown to be
fraudulent. The court refused to accept these documents, he added.
state now needs to enforce the court ruling, said Hasen who has followed the
People on both sides have placed the issue within the
context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.
But getting back
his land was a matter of democracy and human rights, he said. He is
hopeful that once the land is cleared, he will be able to return to
Israel, he said, often boasts that it is the only democracy in the
“One of the things that democracy is built on, in any
country in the world, is respect for private property,” he said.
people have the right to private property here or not?” Hasen asked.
Israeli law sanctions taking property away from a Muslim today, tomorrow it will
be a Christian property owner and the next day a Jewish one.
“Then we can
say goodbye to democracy,” he said.