Beit Ommar Demonstration Plants Hundreds of Olive Trees

5 February 2012

On Saturday, February 4th, 2012, Palestinian villagers in Beit Ommar conducted their weekly demonstration against the settlement appropriation of their lands. The activists organized this week’s actions to plant dozens of olive trees near the Israeli settlement of Karmei Tsur. This week, the demonstrators were joined by a group of Palestinian and international runners conducting a marathon across the West Bank from Hebron to Jenin organized by Fair Trade groups and US-based community development group On the Ground.

The project aims to raise awareness and support for small farming communities and Fair Trade practices across the West Bank. They planted 500 olive saplings in southern Hebron village al-Tuwani before the beginning the marathon on Saturday, which will run for five days. Israeli settlers have uprooted thousands of olive trees which were planted adjacent to each of Karmei Tsure colony, Bayt Ayn colony, Etzion settlements surrounding Beit Ommar over the past few years, but the popular committee together with the Palestine Solidarity Project replant whatever is uprooted to cultivate and protect the land from confiscation.

Israeli police detained three marathon-runners near Hebron on Saturday, including two French nationals, while they were running on their way to Beit Ommar to participate in the olive trees planting.
The two men were later released, but Palestinian Nasser Abu Farha, 47, will be facing a hearing in June on charges of organizing an illegal demonstration.

At yesterday’s demonstration, the protest organizers gave out about 700 olive trees to the farmers in the area and marched towards the Karmei Tsur settlement to protest peacefully against colonization by planting the. As they approached area, dozens of heavily armed Israeli Forces blocked their way and began pushing the activist and beating them. As the activists continued planting trees on the land, soldiers began shooting tear gas and sound bombs at the unarmed demonstrators. A Palestinian man, Saqqar Abu Maria, was hit with a gun butt on his head by soldiers and injured. Despite this repression, the demonstrators accomplished their aim of planting all 700 trees and expressed their resolve to continue to their actions until the occupation is ended.