Soldiers Harass Beit Ommar Farmers

16 September 2011

This morning at around 7.30 am, Beit Ommar farmers Ali Thalji, aged 70, and his son Ahmed, 40, were harassed by a group of Israeli soldiers as they tended to their sheep on fields in Safa, Beit Ommar.

The group of soldiers approached from the direction of the illegal settlement of Bat Ayn, telling Ali and Ahmed that the land they were on – their own fields – had been appropriated by the Israeli State, and repeatedly told them to leave the area.

After approximately half an hour, the soldiers left without any major incidents, but it is a development of great concern to the residents of Safa, a suburb on the edge of Beit Ommar. This is because it implies that the settlement of Bat Ayn has designs on this area and may soon attempt to steal the farmer’s fields.

Beit Ommar residents and farmers face continual harassment from Bet Ayn settlers. Raw sewage is regularly piped down into the valley, rendering the land unusable during harvest time, approximately 30 000 olive trees have been burned by settlers in this area, and it is common practice for settlers to shoot farmers’ sheep if they come with range.

This January, local youth Youssef Ikhlayl, aged 17, was murdered by settlers from Bat Ayn as he picked olives in fields near Saffa. He was shot in the head, and never regained consciousness, while a 15-year-old who was also present survived despite being shot in the arm. For more information on Yousef’s murder, see here.

Bat Ayn is one of only two illegal settlements in the entire West Bank that is not surrounded by a fence and barbed wire. This is at the settlers own request, to allow them to maraud into Beit Ommar lands at will.