200 Trees Planted in Saffa Despite Military Harrasment

9 April 2011

On Saturday, April 9th, around forty Beit Ommar farmers and international solidarity activists planted over 200 olive trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. The planting began around 7:00 am, and was half-finished when Israeli Defense Force soldiers arrived at 8:30. The soldiers said that the area was a Closed Military Zone, but lacked the paperwork legally required to enforce the designation. As the collected farmers and activists continued to plant trees, the soldiers attempted to deter them by kicking dirt into holes and confiscating their tools. A young boy’s jacket was also taken.

Several members of the planting crew began arguing with the soldiers about the return of their tools and the rightful ownership of the land. The remaining activists and farmers continued planting out of eyesight of the military. Settler security forces outside Bat Ayn monitored their progress, but did not approach.

At around 9:45, more IDF soldiers and members of the Civil Administration arrived with documentation for the Closed Military Zone. They presented it to the farmers, and another argument quickly ensued. While the military area was clearly marked, the area where the farmers were planting was well outside the line. The soldiers refused to accept this, insisting that the landmarks around Saffa corresponded with different elements on the map.

All the while, farmers and activists continued planting. When the large group near the soldiers had planted all their trees, they began walking towards Beit Ommar. The soldiers followed, reminding everyone that anyone who stopped would be arrested. When the IDF was satisfied that all civilians were back in the village, they returned to their vehicles and left the valley. All items confiscated were recovered by the villagers.