Beit Ommar Farmers Work Lands Near Settlement Despite Risk of Settler and Military Violence

28 April 2009

On Tuesday, April 28th, Palestinian farmers from the village of Beit Ommar worked their lands close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Ayn. The farmers, accompanied by international and Israeli solidarity activists, went to their fields just two days after settlers from Beit Ayn used stones and sticks to attack two elderly farmers on their lands. One 80-year-old farmer was hospitalized after the attack, requiring ten stitches to treat two hair-line fractures on the top of his head.

On the morning of the 28th, two carloads of Israeli activists coming to join the farmers were prevented from entering the village by Israeli forces. The activists were later able to enter the village from another way. Once inside, they joined around ten Beit Ommar farmers with lands in Saffa, directly below the settlement, along with international volunteers with the Palestine Solidarity Project and the International Solidarity Movement. Israeli settlers watched from above a hill, but did not come down to harass the farmers. At around 12:15pm, after almost five hours of work, two Israeli border police jeeps drove down the hill. The border police used a bullhorn to declare the lands close to the settlement a closed military zone, When several of the farmers continued their work, around eight border policemen approached the farmers. The policemen ordered all the farmers and solidarity activists off the lands, telling them that since there was a holiday without work in Israel (the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers), the farmers also could not work on that day.