The Israeli army allegedly completely demolished a restaurant and a vegetable place. Gas was also allegedly stolen from several gas stations in the area.
Hizma — Around 12:30 AM on Tuesday 29 May 2012, about sixty Israeli soldiers and couple of bulldozers entered into the West Bank village of Hizma, and briskly all entrances and exits were blocked by military jeeps. The soldiers then split up into smaller units and went towards different Palestinians properties targeted that night: a restaurant, a vegetable shop and three gas stations.
The restaurant “Welcome cafeteria” and the vegetable place were completely ransacked and knocked down. As for the three gas stations, each one was more or less affected.
Abdel Salam’s gas station had been partially demolished as three gasoline pumps were uprooted and taken. The main petrol tank was drained. The army also destroyed a little prefabricated building (used as bathroom and storage room) that was already demolished a month earlier. “Upwards of 100 000 shekels (25,000 USD) of fuel was confiscated, plus products for sale; we lost a lot. Ten families survive off the money from this one gas station alone; I really don’t know what will happen to us now” said Abdel Salam.
In the second gas station, just down the first one, the same scenario occurred: two pumps were uprooted, petrol tank drained and equipment confiscated. According to Muayad Al-Helo, accountant for the station, around 100 000 shekels (25,000 USD) of fuel was taken, in addition of 7000$ each pump and upwards of 5,500$ of equipment and supplies (a brand new air pump, motor and cleaning products…)
Mustafa Al-Khatib’s property, located across the street from the two ones mentioned above, suffered the worst. The gas station, the cafeteria and the car wash stand were completely knocked down.
“They ripped out my seven gas pumps and then drained my two 15,000 Liter tanks,” said Al-Khatib. They held about $60,000 dollars worth of gasoline; and confiscated about $4,000 of supplies from the car wash and the cafeteria.”
“As I tried to stop them they started beating me with their rifle butts; they left me almost unconscious. And I still had to wait four hours for an ambulance to be let into the village to transport me to the nearby Ramallah hospital” mentioned Al-Khatib.
“But I really realized what happened when my eight-year-old son, Ahmad, asked me this morning: ‘Dad, everyday you give me money to by lunch with at school. Where will you get my lunch money now?’ What should I answer him…?”
The army finished its duties by storming in Khaled Al-Nafah’s Peace Garage to confiscate an estimated $10,000 worth of auto supplies (including a mechanic lift). Soldiers and bulldozers finally left Hizma by 4:30 am.
The Israeli army didn’t present any official documents and gave no explanation to the owners of these different properties; neither the Israel Land Administration had ever sent any demolition orders.
Muayad Al-Helo confirmed “these gas stations work legally, we pay upwards of 5,000$ tax monthly. They don’t have any official reason to do this.”
An Israeli passing by one of the gas station to fill his tank seems surprised by what happened as we asked him his opinion. “I am from Jerusalem; I come here to buy gas as it is cheaper than Israel. I don’t really know why they did this; very probably as it is an important waste of money for the Israeli government; they decided to punish Palestinians…”