In this May 17, 2016 photo, Israeli lawyer Stephen Berman inspects a construction site on land owned by Palestinian Mohammad Abu Taâ€™a, in east Jerusalem.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
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A few years ago, Mohammad Abu Taa discovered that some storage trailers had disappeared from a plot of land in Jerusalem belonging to his family.That group, Amana, is now building its new headquarters on the land.Abu Taa is fighting back to expose the shadowy land grab.But he is doing it in an unusual way – enlisting the services of an Israeli lawyer who spent 16 years as a municipal civil servant approving expropriations of Palestinian land in Jerusalem.Some of the land slated for expropriation was left untouched for decades.In 1991, the Israel Lands Administration, the government body that manages state-owned lands, declared in a court case that whatever land was needed was part of the new scheme."I started looking at the facts," Berman said.He found that a year after the land authority gave the impression it was no longer interested in taking land in the area, officials quietly began doing the opposite. At the time, Berman says, Amana secured the necessary approvals by tricking local and national land planning officials into thinking the land was owned by the government.
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