PSP Farmer Accompaniment Program Begins
This week PSP began its annual farmer accompaniment program. Around dawn, international activists joined Beit Ommar farmers in harvesting grapes on land close to the illegal settlement of Kfar Etzion. In a busy but sucessful morning, volunteers assisted the famrers in picking and packing over fifty crates of grapes, which will be sold through the local farmers’ market.
Such accompaniments are neccessary as Beit Ommar farmers face the constant threat of harassment and violence from setllers and the Israeli military. Settlers regularly attack famrers trying to work in fields close to the five illegal settlements which surround Beit Ommar, and the Israeli army – who often accompany the settlers in their attacks – regularly arrest farmers or force them from their fields. Only last week, settlers from Karmei Tsur destroyed two fields of grapes in Beit Ommar (report here).
In January of this year, local student Yousef Ikhlayl, 17, was murdered by settlers from nearby Bat Ayin as he harvested his family’s grapes (report here).
In addition to the constant threat of violence, farm lands in Beit Ommar are also constantly under threat of confiscation, as the nearby settlements look to expand through the theft of more Palestinian land (report here).