Israeli Occupation Forces Destroy Beit Ommar Fruit Stalls and Arrest Fruit Seller
On Thursday, June 14, 2012 around midday, Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers launched an attack on local fruit vendors along the Route 60 highway just outside of Beit Ommar. Local farmers use this road, which is the main highway between Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron, to sell their produce during harvest months, as the main produce market in Beit Ommar has been closed by the military since 2007. Several demolition trucks, accompanied by police and army vehicles, drove along the road, systematically confiscating the fruit of Palestinian farmers and destroying their stalls. No justification or reason was given by the soldiers for these attacks, which have occurred annually since local farmers were forced to move to the road to sell their fruit. (See previous report )
17 year old Mohammed Khader Awad, one of the fruit sellers whose stall was being demolished, was arrested. He is currently being held in the Kiryat Arba police station.
Agriculture is at the heart of Beit Ommar’s economy. Located on Route 60, Beit Ommar once had the largest fruit market in the southern West Bank. The continued assaults on the livelihoods of Beit Ommar residents represent Israel’s attempts to cripple the local Palestinian economy. Whilst Palestinian stalls are routinely destroyed, settlers are free to sell their produce – fruit grown on stolen Palestinian land – by the settlements along route 60. This is yet another example of Israel’s agenda of apartheid.
The use of violence and intimidation by the occupying forces is a tactic employed repeatedly in order to force Palestinian farmers to leave their land. This strategy facilitates further confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli state and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.