Settlers Attack Palestinian Property near Bani Na’im

23 December 2006

A group of Israeli settlers from P’nei Hever burned trees belonging to Palestinians in the area of Bani Na’im, a Palestinian village south of Hebron. Fifty dunams of land planted with apricot, almond, olive, and cherry trees belonging to the brothers Muhammed Yunis Muhammed Manasira and Ibrahim Muhammed Manasira were completely destroyed. Five Israeli settlers carrying M-16 rifles set fire to the trees at 8am on December 20th. The area is far from the village, so the Muhammed and Ibrahim did not learn about the fire until the afternoon. When they came to try to put out the fire, the settlers shot at them, preventing them from reaching their trees and allowing the fire to spread further. Because the settlers prevented the Palestinians from bringing water to the site, the fire burned for an entire day and night, ensuring that all the trees were completely destroyed.

The next day, PSP activists, together with international activists and the Land Defence Committee, went to the area in solidarity with Muhammed and Ibrahim and their families. The activists planned to document the destruction and also brought some trees with them to begin replanting. All the activists were detained by Israeli soldiers, who announced that the area was a “closed military zone.” The soldiers took the IDs and passports of everyone present, and prevented them from reaching the destroyed area or even taking pictures to document the destruction. The soldiers threatened to arrest anyone who went towards the area to examine the burned trees or take pictures. After four hours, the soldiers returned the IDs and passports and ordered everybody to leave, having prevented any effective solidarity activities.

This case shows that the Israeli authorities not only allow the settlers to destroy Palestinian property and refuse to investigate or charge the settlers responsible, but also prevent international and Palestinian activists from independently documenting the settlers’ crimes or providing material assistance to the Palestinian families affected.