The petition was submitted on 1 April 2007 through HaMoked and Rabbis for Human Rights, on behalf of 36 Palestinian land and livestock owners from the communities in the South Hebron Hills, in the western section of the proposed barrier. The petitioners’ livelihood is based almost entirely on farming, grazing and the production of milk and cheese. Some 750 people are supported by these sources. Some of the petitioners live with their flocks in caves in the area intended for the establishment of the barrier. In addition to the caves, the petitioners also own pools for the storage of rainwater, constituting the sole source of water for themselves and their flocks.
The seizure order issued on 4 October 2006 is an amendment of an order issued on 16 November 2005. Under the amended order, only three caves and an identical number of water sources are to be taken from the petitioners, instead of up to 15 caves and 18 water sources as initially planned. Despite the new route, private land used for seasonal field crops is still to be confiscated; the development of the village of Jinaba to the south and west will be completely blocked, and much of the village’s land will be seized for the construction of the barrier; and Palestinian residents to the south of the barrier will be disconnected from the rest of the West Bank. It should be noted, moreover, that the Palestinian residents’ access to their land is already difficult due to violent attacks by settlers, accompanied by inaction on part of the security forces. Access will become completely impossible following the construction of the barrier. The petitioners claim that the real reason behind the barrier plan is to protect the settlement of Metzudot Yehudah and the illegal outpost of Havat Talia, in which lives Yaacov Talia, who uses his personal weapon to launch attacks against Palestinian residents in the locality.
The proposed route will create three de facto enclaves trapping land, caves, residences, and natural wells. The grave injury to the petitioners’ freedom of movement and access to their lands and caves cannot be remedied by the installation of gates in the barrier. This given that any access to their lands would be subject to the gates system restrictions, which have already proved to be a failure along the finished sections of the barrier in other areas.
The petitioners claim that in its current form, the order is unlawful for the following main reasons: The new course entails the de facto annexation of an occupied territory, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law; extensive sections of the proposed route are based not on military need but on the desire to enable the expansion of the settlements in the area; the barrier would injure the petitioners’ basic rights and fabric of life; furthermore, the respondents are well aware that an alternative route exists, but have chosen to ignore this. The injury that would be caused to the petitioners’ livelihood, water sources and to this ancient cultural landscape and local ecosystem is disproportionate and fails to meet the conditions established by the HCJ for the construction of the Separation Wall.