Background Information on Tent of Nations and the Nassar family’s 33 year legal struggle

Tent of Nations is a peace project located on a farm owned for over 100 years by the Nassar family, located 6 miles southwest of Bethlehem in the occupied Palestinian territories. Situated in Area C under Israeli administrative and security control, the farm is located on a hilltop surrounded by Israeli settlements.[1] In 2001, the Nassar family named their farm Tent of Nations, receiving visitors from around the world to foster a connection between the land and people. The farm is dedicated to sustainable agriculture and hosts programs for women and children from the area. In 2019, international visitors numbered 10,000. Tent of Nations is supported by church and religious organizations in the U.S.A. and Europe, which host visits to the farm, help support Tent of Nations’ educational and peacebuilding programs, and sponsor volunteers who live and work on the farm. Since 2001, Tent of Nations has been a place where “people from many different countries come together to learn, to share, and to build bridges of understanding and hope.

In 1991, the Israeli authorities declared the Nassar farm and surrounding areas “state land.” Since then, the Nassar family has been in the Israeli Military Court and, ultimately, the Israeli Supreme Court defending their land from the demolition of farm buildings, water cisterns, and tents and from outright confiscation. In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Nassars should be allowed to go through the re-registration process of their property as required by Israel of landowners in Area C. [2] Since then the family have been subjected to continued delays that required that they re-initiate their application for re-registration multiple times. Finally, in 2019 they received confirmation that their application to re-register was complete. [3]

After two more years of additional delays, a meeting was held in February 2021 by the Re- Registration Committee of the Civil Administration, the purpose of which was to determine and inform the family about next steps in the re-registration process. Between February and August 2021 nothing further was heard from the Civil Administration although the lawyer inquired several times. Due to the delays, Nassars’ lawyer prepared documents to resubmit to the Supreme Court asking them to take further action. Within three days, he was informed that the Committee authorized by the Civil Administration to review this case would reconvene on December 13, 2021. That hearing was postponed and rescheduled for January 16, 2022.

The hearing on January 16, 2022 was held. However, the Absentee Property Custodian representing the State did not appear, and the head of the committee gave the State an additional 45 days to produce documents supporting their case in a hearing scheduled for May 2nd ; which was postponed and rescheduled for October 27th and again postponed until November 21st. November’s hearing was held, and the State did not appear. The committee refused to decide for the Nassars’ claiming it was only “fair” that Palestinian objectors be heard: neglecting the fact that all of them had been given time in previous hearings to submit their evidence during the past year and had never complied.

In the subsequent hearing held January 16, 2023, the Committee contravened previous decisions in which they had dismissed a Palestinian objector who was claiming ownership of a portion of the Nassars’ land. They returned him, along with the Absentee Property Custodian, to the re-registration hearing of February 12, 2023.

Hearings scheduled for February 12th and March 2nd of 2023 were held. A representative of the Absentee Property Custodian appeared at the February hearing who knew nothing about the case. As of the February 12th hearing, the Absentee Property Custodian has been dismissed from the case. However, the Committee allowed the Palestinian family they returned to the case in January 2023 to appear at the March 2nd hearing. This was done in spite of the fact that they have failed, during the past 15 month series of hearings, to deliver documents or produce witnesses which substantiate their claims, and that they had been dismissed from the case in November of 2022. At the March 2nd 2023 hearing, Daoud’s lawyer moved to dismiss the Palestinian family’s objection based on the Committee’s previous decision to remove them from the case. This request was denied. Subsequent hearings were held May 15th and September 6th at which a number of witnesses testified and an additional hearing was scheduled for December 4th. This hearing would have been a significant one: Mr. Nassar would have finally been allowed to give his testimony, and in addition an Israeli land expert would have provided testimony to support the family’s ownership of the land since 1916. The December 4th, 2023 hearing ( the 11th in a series of 11 hearings which began in December, 2021) on the re-registration of the Nassar’s land was cancelled by the Israeli Civil Administration. In early April 2024, they learned that the next hearings has been scheduled for July 2nd.

The continuous delays in the land re-registration process have exposed the Nassars to severe risk: including fire which was intentionally set in May 2021, damage of property by vandals over many years, and a physical attack on members of the family in January 2022.. The urgency of their struggle has increased exponentially since October 7th of 2023 and the harassment, intimidation, and lack of access to their land by Israeli military and settlers is described on the following page. Completion of the land re-registration would constitute Israeli authorities’ recognition of the Nassars as the private owners of this land and end their legal struggle.


[1] The Nassar family owns plots of land located in Wadi Salem (Alkaff) Alkafr in Nahalin, Bethlehem district. The land was registered in 1924 and 1925 in the land registry office of Bethlehem, volume No. 1, pages 3 & 4and also registered in 1958 in the financial deeds under Plot No. 17, 161, and 157 of block No. 4, altogether 427 Dunams.

[2] Case Number: HCJ 7215/02

[3] Re-registration Case Nos. 3714/2 and 3715/2 Updated: 5-2-2024


URGENT ACTION REQUESTED

With all eyes focused on Gaza, more Palestinian agricultural land in the West Bank is being taken. The Nassar family has not escaped these circumstances, and the situation is dire. Detailed below are some of the major actions taken by settlers and the military against the Nassars over the past 5 months, the actions the family has taken in response, and the delays they have faced from the courts and the military as they attempt to prevent the confiscation of their land.

Roads constructed into and through the Nassar’s property

  • March 13, 2024: Israelis built a road which cuts off some 50 dunams of their property and if extended will make even more land inaccessible
  • March 21, 2024: Construction of a second road began that, if continued, will cut off another segment of the family’s land
  • April 15, 2024: The Israeli military imposes a closed military zone which effectively cuts in half the northern most parcel of the Nassars land and prevents them from working it.
  • May 1st, 2024 . An Israeli settler began a 3rd road, that if continued will connect the first and second roads leaving the Nassars with a minmal portion of their 400 acres of land on the top of their hill.

Legal Actions by the Nassars

  • April 18th – after having received no response from the Israeli military challenging the building of roads through the Nassar’s property, the family’s lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court ( which had ruled previously that their land was not to be touched during the re-registration process).
  • April 21st – The Court issued an order indicating nothing further was to be done on the Nassar’s land, and the Military was required to respond to this order by May 16th.
  • May 16th – The military told the court that no work was being done on the Nassar’s property, and they needed more time to investigate the question. The Court gave them until June 5th.
  • May 31st While the State delays, Israelis continue to enter and work on the Nassars land – as recently as May 31st.

New Outpost Establishment

  • May 27th in what appears to be the establishment of a new outpost(illegal by Israeli and international law), Israeli settlers placed an RV directly abutting the Nassar’s land.

Restricted Access to the property

  • In addition, to these extremely concerning developments, the Nassars, like other Palestinian farmers, face more restrictions on accessing their land and increased intimidation and harassment by Israeli soldiers and settlers while trying to farm. Almost daily, Israeli military/security or settlers try to prevent the Nassar family from working on their farm and have damaged the farm’s fences when entering the property.
  • Additional road blocks, and fencing prevent access to their property by family and visitors from Route 60. This requires additional travel time via villages which themselves often have flying checkpoints, road blocks.

THE RE-REGISTRATION BATTLE

The Nassar’s ownership of their land is clear and well documented. The current situation and now the new road construction and outpost heighten the urgency for these delays to end and a just outcome for the family to be secured: that is, completion of the re-registration process recognizing the Nassar’s ownership of all their land.

Action is urgently needed to bring to an end this dangerous situation the Nassar family faces and to secure justice by preventing illegal confiscation of their land: thereby also ensuring respect for international law. Specifically, it is imperative that our Government take all possible steps to ensure that:

  1. The Nassar ownership of all their land as delimited in their Re-registration Case Nos. 3714/2 and 3715/2 be confirmed and the reregistration be completed immediately. Ask the State Department to support the Nassars by attending the scheduled July 2, 2024, hearing at the military compound at Beit El (north of Ramallah).
  2. The road construction and all other damage and unauthorized entry to the Nassar’s private property stops, that hindering the Nassar’s access to their land, as well as intimidation or harassment by Israeli military/security or settlers be brought to an end.
  3. The Nassars are protected and may safely farm their land. Please visit the Nassars at Tent of Nations frequently. Your presence allows the Nassars to farm their land in safely and helps prevent hostile acts against the Nassars, and their property.
  4. They remain abreast of the situation developing on the ground by visiting Tent of Nations frequently. Please have delegations visiting your Mission also come to Tent of Nations to see first-hand the facts on ground.

Thank you for your consideration and for understanding the urgency for action now.

For more information, contact Daoud Nassar:
+972 52-2975985 (available on WhatsApp and Signal)
dnassar@tentofnations.org
https://tentofnations.com

June 4, 2024