The Bat Ayn Settlement – Neighbors from Hell

20 November 2010

The Bat Ayn settlement was established in the early 1990s by a breakaway group from the nearby Gush Etzion settlement. Bat Ayn was established under the guidance of the controversial Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg. Rabbi Ginsburg has been quoted in the New York Times as stating that “any trial based on the assumption that Jews and goyim [non-Jewish people] are equal is a total travesty of justice”. Rabbi Ginsburg also praised the actions of Baruch Goldstein who in 1994 murdered 29 people and wounded more than 125 people who were praying in a mosque in Hebron.

Bet Ayn is one of over 200 Israeli settlements within the West Bank. The International Court of Justice has deemed these settlements illegal under international law which prohibits an occupying power from moving its population into occupied territory. At least 42% of land in the West Bank is currently occupied by settlers or set aside for further settlement expansion. The ongoing construction of settlements has been criticized by the United Nations, the United States of America and the European Union.

Today more than 1,000 settlers from Bet Ayn live on land that was used for centuries by Palestinian families. Residents of Bet Ayn have a long history of violence. In 2002, four people from Bet Ayn were convicted of terrorism related offences following an attempt to blow up a Palestinian girl’s school in East Jerusalem. The men were arrested outside of the school with a trailer containing explosives.

Residents of Bet Ayn frequently attack neighboring residents of Palestinian villages and destroy their sources of income. The following are some examples of settler violence, destruction and intimidationsince April 2009:

– November 16 2010, burnt and destroyed 70 olive trees in the Saffa Valley.

– November 15 2010, burnt and destroyed 85 fig and olive trees in the Saffa Valley.

– 24 June 2010, set fire to farmland in the Saffa Valley and threw stones and bottles at nearby houses.

– 11 March 2010, set fire to a number of trees in the Saffa Valley.

– 9 January 2010, 40 settlers attacked three local farmers with stones.

– 31 December 2009, shot a local famer with a hand gun.

– 20 December 2009, shot at local farmers.

– 13 July 2009, set fire to farmland in the Saffa Valley.

– 1 and 2 May 2009, entered the Saffa Valley destroyed fruit trees and shot at nearby residential homes.

– 26 April 2009, beat two elderly Palestinians, including holding down an 80 year old male and
repeatedly smashed his head with stones.

– 8 April 2009, invaded Palestinian land and shot at local residents.

– In 2007, large numbers of settlers from Bet Ayn terrified locals by marching through neighboring
Palestinian villages dressed in white and carrying weapons, including M16 machine guns. The primary
reason behind this campaign of terror and destruction is an attempt to deter local Palestinian farmers
from farming their land to facilitate the annexation of the land by the Israeli military for further
settlement expansion.

A website associated with the Bet Ayn settlement states:

All who visit the Bat Ayin are struck by the beautiful vistas, the peaceful surroundings, and
the profound level of devotion and spirituality of the people who live there. (http://www.bat-
ayin.org/73023/About-Us)

Unfortunately, life for Palestinians living nearby the Bat Ayn settlement is far from peaceful.