Activists Cut Open Illegal Settler Fence

14 April 2007

Today, over 30 activists cut about 15 meters of the illegal fence around Karme Tzur, next to Beit Ommar. Two groups used cutters, ropes and hammers to tear down parts of the fence that was built this last summer. The Palestinians wanted to demonstrate not only that the fence was illegitimate, but that they would no longer be intimidated by the settlers, who often harass the farmers whose land is near the settlement.

The activists wore reflective vests and carried banners in Hebrew to try to ensure that the settlers, who are notoriously violent, would not shoot at the activists. After about 15 minutes, two settler security guards arrived and demanded that the activists leave immediately. One told one group that he would shoot them if they did not leave. An Israeli Occupation Forces humvee then arrived with 3 soldiers. One of the security guards told the soldiers that they should shoot at the activists; that if it were arabs cutting open the fence, the soldiers would shoot. The soldiers confirmed that if the activists had been Arab they would shoot immediately, but they could not shoot Israelis. Not wanting further confrontation, the activists left.

The fence is the second built around Karme Tzur and was built further into Palestinian land. The Palestinians of Beit Ommar have a court order stating that the land beyond the fence (and therefore the land that the fence was built upon) is their land. The court order gives the Palestinian farmers the right to access the land beyond the fence, but they must get permission first, and key to the gates are held by the settlers.

Afterward, the activists went to a second fence that Palestinians have attempted to open a number of times before, along Route 60. In an act of defiance against Israeli control of Palestinian land and movement, the activists cut holes in this fence as well. When soldiers arrived, the activists left, having accomplished the day’s goal.