Olive Tree Planting in Beit Ummar / Hebron
A number of landowners and Combatants for Peace activists suffered effects of tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli troops at participants of a solidarity action of planting olive trees on lands owned by farmers from the town of Beit Ummar – Hebron in southern West Bank.
The activity today marked ‘World Agriculture Day.’ Our action also aimed to support the steadfastness of Palestinian farmers facing settlement expansion on their land. The Israeli military intends to confiscate (without compensation) private land near the settlement of Etzion, which is owned by the Aby Ayyash family. We went to the land to plant olive trees there, in support of the family. The area is known to locals as Al-Suda.
A soon as activists and land owners arrived on location, the military forces declared the site a closed military zone, trying to thwart the planting of the olive trees. After the owners of the land and the activists did not leave and continued to plant the trees, troops attacked them with tear gas, as a result some participants suffered effects of tear gas inhalation and had to be hospitalized.
Despite repeated attempts by the military, the activists continued to work and managed to plant more than 100 olive trees in the threatened land.
“We are here to stay on this land,” said Nasser Abu Ayash, one of the owners of the land. “We have come here today with our partners from Combatants for Peace movement to plant olive trees to preserve this land.
For his part, Mr. Yousef Abu Mariah, coordinator of the Popular Committees against the Wall and Settlements in the South of the West Bank, explained “the occupation confiscated more than 650 dunums of land owned by Palestinian families in the land of Al-Suda, between the town of Beit Fajjar and Beit Ummar. We are determined to stay on this land and continue activities with our friends from the Combatants for Peace movement to support the steadfastness of landowners.
“Combatants for Peace movement will focus its activities during 2019 in area C of the West Bank in order to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian population, facing occupation policies aimed at forcing them to leave their villages and land in preparation for its annexation” said Adam Rabie – the most active coordinator of the Combatants for Peace movement.
During the week, military forces stormed the house of Mr. Yousef Abu Maria and threatened to arrest him if he continued the Friday action (of planting trees on his own property). Moreover, several settler groups launched an incitement campaign against action and threatened (through social networks) to attack the participants by force. During the day, some armed settlers came to try to create a problem for the landowners but they did not succeed.
Since the beginning of this year, Israeli and settler attacks on farmers and landowners in the Beit Ummar area have escalated. The occupation aims to confiscate these lands in order to build more settlement units.
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