Farmers Denied Access to Land in Saffa, Yet Again

4 October 2009

saffa_3.10.09This Saturday, October 3, international and Israeli activists, along with PSP committee members, attempted to accompany Abu Jabber Soleiby and his family to his land in the Wad Arish valley, in the Saffa district of Beit Ommar. Since the completion of Ramadan and the Muslim holidays, the farmers wished to again tend to their land, in preparation for some repair work that they intend to begin, with the support of PSP and Israeli solidarity activists, this month. Instead, the Israeli military, with an unusual show of force even for the often-brutalized Beit Ommar, prevented farmers and activists alike from accessing the valley. The soldiers, who were even more aggressive and tense this week, supposedly in anticipation for unrest throughout the Palestinian Territories in response to the violent repression of demonstrations over right-wing Israeli access to Muslim sites in Jerusalem, blocked both the entrance to Beit Ommar and the entrance to the Saffa section of town. One carload of activists managed to evade the soldiers and get into Saffa, but were stopped by yet another group of Israeli military personnel at the entrance to the valley. They were informed that the area was a closed military zone, a quasi-legal maneuver that has been used in the Wad Arish valley for 6 months to deny Palestinian land-owners access to their fields, while at the same time doing nothing to prevent massive property destruction by the right-wing Israeli settlers living in the nearby illegal colony Bat Ain.
For more than 3 hours on Saturday, activists attempted to negotiate with the military, and were then detained while their ID’s were ‘checked’. A vehicle carrying international and Israeli activists was then escorted throughout the entire village to the main highway, ensuring that it left Beit Ommar.