Farmers Attacked, 7 Hour Military Invasion Following Tree Planting

13 January 2010
Israeli soldiers attack farmers in Saffa

Israeli soldiers attack farmers in Saffa

In one of the most extreme shows of force used against a tree-planting action, today around 1pm, dozens of Israeli soldiers entered the neighborhood of Saffa, in Beit Ommar. They began to attack farmers from the ‘Adi and Soleiby families, who had been planting trees they obtained with Israeli and international support as part of a larger tree-planting program of the Palestine Solidarity Project for several hours in the Wadi Arish area below the Bat ‘Ayn settlement. Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at the farmers and amongst the homes of Saffa. Two men were moderately injured from being shot from close range with rubber bullets and a 5 year-old was hospitalized with respiratory problems after inhaling tear gas shot near his home.

The invasion quickly escalated, with three homes being occupied by the Israeli military for over 4 hours. 3 residents were reportedly arrested. Towards the end of the day, one Israeli military jeep lost control and got stuck in an olive grove owned by the Abu Maria family. A bulldozer was called in to ‘rescue’ the jeep and spent 3 hours tearing up 150-200 meters of fruit trees.

Yesterday, Monday, January 11, farmers from the Soleiby and ‘Adi families were accompanied by Israeli and international activists and were prevented from entering the valley between Saffa and the settlement Bat ‘Ayn where they intended to plant trees. The military refused to allow the farmers and supporters into the area, checking everyone’s IDs and declaring it a “closed military zone”. Not to be deterred, internationals and Palestinians from PSP returned with the farmers later in the day and successfully planted a few hundred trees.