6 International Activists Arrested Accompanying Farmers in Saffa
6 international solidarity activists were arrested this afternoon while accompanying farmers to their land in Saffa, near the illegal Bat Ayn settlement. A group of 8 international activists along with 3 Palestinian members of the Palestine Solidarity Project accompanied the Aady family to their land on the hillside opposite Bat Ayn, on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar. The land is marked for annexation by the settlement, and is frequently subject to settler violence.
After three hours of work the group was preparing to leave when they were stopped by 4 soldiers. The soldiers informed the group that they were not allowed to leave the area, and that they must wait for the police to arrive. They were then escorted back to the houses at the edge of the farmland, where they were met with six military jeeps and a police vehicle.
The soldiers informed the group that they were on “unregistered land,” and that their presence was provoking the settlers. 6 internationals were arrested on the spot, despite the fact that most were simply standing to the side and taking pictures. The arrestees were taken to the police station in the Gush Etzion settlement, where they were held for three hours.
The farmers in Saffa all have documents proving their ownership of the land. Despite clear documentation, the Israeli military has informed the farmers that their land has been declared “state land,” indicating their intention to annex it to the Bat Ayn settlement. In 2009 the army began issuing a series of “closed military zone” orders denying the farmers access to their land, and attempts to reach the land have been violently suppressed.