5 International Activists Arrested, 1 Injured As Army Prevents Farmers From Working Their Land in Saffa
5 international activists were arrested this morning while accompanying farmers to their land in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. For the third time this week a group of about 10 Palestinian and international activists accompanied Sheik Muhammad Aady to his land near the Bat Ayn settlement. The army has been preventing the farmers in Saffa from accessing the land, which is marked for annexation.
The volunteers worked for nearly an hour clearing the land before they were stopped by a group of soldiers. The soldiers informed the group that they were all under arrest, took the IDs of several of the activists, and escorted the group back to the houses at the edge of the land. All five international activists were put into military jeeps and taken to the police station in the Gush Etzion settlement, where they were held for 7 hours. One of the activists was hit in the head by a soldier while being arrested, and sustained minor injuries.
The activists were charged with being in a closed military zone, despite never being informed of this prior to their arrest, and were banned from entering Saffa for two weeks. According to a supreme court ruling in 2004 the closed military zone order cannot legally be applied to the Palestinians who own the land, making their removal from the land illegal by Israeli law.
6 international activists were arrested last Sunday while accompanying farmers to their land in Saffa, and tear gas was shot at a much larger group that joined the farmers this Saturday. Farmers who went to their land in Saffa without international accompaniment on Tuesday were detained in their land for five hours and threatened with arrest if they returned. Despite the fact that all the farmers have documents proving their ownership of the land, the military has been claiming that the land is “unregistered,” indicating their intention to annex it to the Bat Ayn settlement.