13 Activists Arrested Accompanying Farmers in Saffa

18 November 2010

13 Israeli, international and Palestinian activists were arrested at 10 am this morning while accompanying farmers to their land in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. A group of nearly 30 activists accompanied Sheik Mohammad Aady to his land near the Bat Ayn settlement, which is marked for annexation by the Israeli military. After working on the land for half an hour, soldiers emerged from the Bat Ayn settlement and surrounding hills and detained the group.

A number of sound bombs were shot at those working on the land before the arrests. Amongst those arrested was Biet Ommar National Committee member and cameraman Mohammed Ayyad. As of 1 pm the group is still being detained in the police station in the Gush Ezion settlement.

Upon leaving the nearby village of Beit Ommar, soldiers fired from their military vehicles around 25 canisters of tear gas at a group of children who were throwing rocks. The tear gas spread throughout the residential area.

In the past two weeks there have been 33 detentions of farmers and activists in Saffa. The military claims that the land is “state land,” indicating their unequivocal intention to annex it to the Bat Ayn settlement. All of the farmers have documents proving their ownership of the land.

Settlers frequently attack the farmers and land in Saffa. Two nights ago settlers set fire to 70 olive trees on the hillside near Bat Ayn, and three Palestinians were arrested as they tried to extinguish the fire. Three more Palestinian activists who went to take pictures the next day were also detained.