Posts filed under ‘Settler Violence’

CALL TO ACTION: PSP BEGINS OLIVE HARVEST!

This month, PSP will begin it’s olive harvest in the Betlehem and Hebron regions.  We will focus on the village of Al-Jab’a who will attempt to plow land close to the settlement of Beit ‘Ain, the residents of which have terrorized the people of Al-Jab’a for years (please see previous reports from Jab’a).  This land has not been plowed for over 7 years and belongs to five families.  The last time the farmers attempted to plow this land, the settlers attacked them and set fire to their tractors.  Therefore, PSP is COLLECTING MONEY to rent two tractors to work this land.  International and Israeli activists will join with the PSP committee and the people of Jab’a to go to this land in an act of solidarity with the farmers as they reclaim what is theirs.

More details to follow soon!

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November 10, 2006 at 8:03 pm

From the Trees to the Bottle: Olive Oil Production Under Occupation

Today, Nov. 1, PSP went to the village of Surif to visit their olive oil production factory. We intended to write a report about the olive oil process from the tree to the bottle. Instead, we found ourselves writing a report on the devestating impact of settlements on the economic survival of Palestinian farmers and business owners.

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Factory owner, Mohammed Barathea, says that business in Surif used to be very busy, but now with the constant presence of soldiers and the completion of the Apartheid Wall which resulted in the annexation of more land after land had already been confisgated for settlement expansion, business is slow. Many Palestinian farmers have been cut off from their agricultural land by the Apartheid Wall throughout the West Bank. In Surif, those Palestinian farmers who do still have access to their land are not immune to the hardships of occupation. Many have had their olive trees cut or set on fire by Israeli settlers. Settlers have also brought their sheep to eat these crops, making harvests negligible. Palestinians are frequently met by military hummers and jeeps as they go to work these fields and are forced to return home, leaving their crops unattended. Soldiers have told them they cannot return to the fields without permission from the District Coordinating Office (DCO). However, the DCO will not grant them permission to harvest on their own land.

The DCO coordinates between the Israeli army and Palestinian farmers. Palestinians must apply for permission to work their land, and the DCO will either deny them or assign a few days of “legal” harvesting. The DCO overlooks the fact that olive trees need year-round care. The land needs to be tilled, and the branches need to be pruned, so that when harvest season comes the trees are fruitful. Without continuing care, the families will have little benefit from the harvest. The DCO does not grant permission for off-season care. They grant only a few days of their choosing, and even with this permission the army may still deny them the access to their lands and if they do access their land, they still face violence from settlers.

In Surif, the Wall has stolen 90 dunums of land. The families of Khalil Mohammed Baradaya, Sleman Abed Al-Hadi Baradaya, Ibraheim Abed Arackman Al-Hiya and Abed Al-Khadr Al-hiya are now without land and without work. A short time ago, these families went around the Wall to their land only to find that it had been destroyed by settlers and sheep. When they returned to repair the damage they were met by soldiers who told them to go home immediately, that ‘this is Israeli land now’.

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November 2, 2006 at 1:13 am

Settlers Occupy More Land, Destroy Olive Groves

Today, October 21, soldiers and settlers from Susiya settlement came with army- issued bulldozers and proceeded to destroy 150 Dunums (1 Dunum=1/4 acre) of olive groves belonging to the Palestinians. The groves belong to the families of Ashmasti, Abu Sopea and Asha Bin who live in Susiya bedouin camp. The families had planned to harvest these olives at the end of Ramadan, when they would be finished fasting and have more energy to work. Because of the economic crisis throughout Palestine, and the particularly difficult situation for small farming communities in this area which is the beginning of the Negev desert, the demolition of this land will have unbelievably devastating consequences for the people of Susiya, and their ability to survive through the winter, when they will have little or no income.

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Susiya settlement is not more than 40 Dunums away from the camp. It started as a trailer camp over 10 years ago and, like many settlements, they were not at first supported by Israel. A group of Israelis decided they would go there and make new houses on this land, and eventually, when they brought enough people, the army would have no choice but to support and protect them. Today, Susiya settlement consists of many permanent houses which are protected by a constant military presence. Often times, when settlers go to attack the Palestinians, they do so with the accompaniment of one of these soldiers. They are currently constructing tents outside of this settlement to watch the Palestinian families and to annex more land for this illegal settlement.

In the past, these settlers have destroyed many crops belonging to the people of Susiya. A little over 1 year ago, settlers and soldiers came to demolish an olive grove, only to plant new olive trees on this same land they had just stolen. Recently, a group of settlers from the camp made bread from poisonous water and fed it to a flock of sheep belonging to the Palestinians. They have stolen trees, fruits, vegetables and animals. They attack these families on a regular basis. The families have tried calling lawyers, police, and the Israeli army, but no action has ever been taken on their behalf. When Abu Khalil was stabbed one month ago, no one was charged with the incident. This story continues.

The olives that were destroyed today were ripe, plump and ready to be picked. Now, the crops these families were depending on are gone, and with it, any possibility of future harvests as this land is now stolen by the settlers, who will, with the support of the Israeli army, claim it as their own and prevent Palestinians from going on it. We believe they will use this as some type of farming land for themselves, as is customary when settlements use this strategy to annex more land. Once they have occupied the land, the Israeli government rarely orders them to return it, and it usually is seen as an extension of the settlement.

PSP will continue to follow this situation.

October 26, 2006 at 9:20 pm 1 comment

Settler Attacks Continue for Beit Ommar Farmer

Abu Jabr is attacked by Israeli settlers

September 20, 2006, in the village of Beit Ommar, activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project visited the farmland of Abu Jaber and his brother Abu Sameer. This is the third time that activists with the Project met with the farmers to document damage done to their land by nearby Israeli colonial settlers.

Three months ago, activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) began meeting with Abu Jaber and Abu Sameer, though attacks on their land have dated back many years. These activists previously visited with the farmers July and August of this year. On September 15 2006, five days prior to PSP’s visit, Abu Jaber and Abu Sameer’s land was once again attacked by settlers from Bat Ayin. These attacks have become more frequent as the olive harvest approaches, and presently, the land is attacked nearly twice per week.

Abu Jabr is attacked by Israeli settlers

Typically, when the settlers come to the land, they cut olive, plumb and grape trees. They rip tress from the earth and throw stakes and plants into nearby bushes. Olives, plumbs and grapes are picked from the trees and stolen, while some crops are thrown to the ground to decay in the sun or to be eaten by illegally grazing settler livestock.

While at PSP’s last visit similar destruction was photographed, videotaped and documented, upon this visit, the damage had increased. More plants had been destroyed, more crops had been stolen and more of the farming infrastructure had been removed and mangled.

Abu Jabr is attacked by Israeli settlers

For several years prior to the attacks in 2006, Abu Jaber and Abu Sameer have been attempting to litigate this problem through the Palestinian Land Defense Committee, which joins Israeli and Palestinian lawyers to aid farmers in trouble. As of now, this attempt to seek justice through the Israeli court system has been fruitless. This experience is common for Palestinians seeking to have their grievances addressed through the legal system of the Occupation. The nature of the Occupation creates parallel and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and Israelis seeking to solve their problems through the court. Had Abu Jaber attacked the farm land of Bat Ayin, the Apartheid court system would have likely fined and imprisoned him, though when the situation is reversed, nothing happens and the racist nature of the Occupation courts is made apparent.

September 22, 2006 at 3:27 pm

Settlers Burn Farmer’s Roof;Community Rebuilds Despite Intimidation

Masked Israeli settlers threaten Palestinian villages
Israeli Colonist Wear: tallis, tzitziyot, and masks

by Harry Pockets

On 22nd July, international activists and Israeli activists joined locals from Suseya to rebuild the roof of a farmer’s home that had been burned by neighbouring Israeli colonists. Suseya, an agricultural village located in the South Hebron hills, repeatedly has come under attack by Israeli colonists in the nearby settlement of the same name.

Following the arson, the family living there temporarily moved out of fear of continued harassment and physical attacks by the colonists. Internationals gathered with the villagers to replace the burnt roof with plastic sheets in order to return the home to a liveable condition. As the group began to lay the tarp over the home, fully-masked settlers approached the group demanding that the internationals leave settler “Holy Land” (picture above). The colonists engaged in physical and verbal intimidation, characteristic of settler interactions with Palestinians and internationals in the West Bank. In the ensuing encounter the colonists, who would not identify themselves, assaulted an american woman who was videotaping the incident.

Shortly thereafter the IOF arrived, called by the settlers who frequently enlist the help of the army because of the tacit and active support they receive from them. Following a dialogue led by Israeli activists, the situation calmed. The group of villagers and internationals were able to successfully replace the roof with the tarp, clear away charred remains of the house interior, and assist in watering the farmers’ plants.

PSP volunteers help rebuild a Palestinian home after being damaged by Israeli settlers

September 19, 2006 at 9:41 pm

Farmer Picks Grapes While Harassed by Armed Israeli Colonist Militia

Member of illegal Israeli settler militia
Member of illegal Israeli settler militia

Abu Ayash and his family have owned and tended their land for around 100 years but are now facing increasing violence from the inhabitants of the nearby and ever expanding Israeli settlement Karme Zur. On Sunday, September 10, activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) joined the farmer to defy the Israeli DCO (District Co-ordination Office – essential the Israeli army’s administrative wing in the West Bank), and make the harvest under the watchful eye of armed settler ’security’ and Israeli army.

The family owns 3 dunums of land right next to Karme Zur, some of the grapevines reaching out onto the settler road separating the Palestinian land from the green lawns of the settlement. When the family tries to pick the grapes there, armed settlers harass and scare them away, threatening to shoot them if they return. The settlers demand that the family contact the DCO to gain permission to harvest, something that the family refuses to do since it is their land to visit as they please.

Palestinians harvest grapes under threat from Israeli settlers
Palestinians harvest grapes under threat from Israeli settlers

Since the family is largely unable to access this land, it is left unguarded for long periods of time. The settlers take advantage of this by picking the grapes for themselves or destroying the trees. In the past, they have used tractors to mow down trees, radically decreasing the harvest and the family’s income. For the past year and a half, the Abu Ayash family has been accompanied by international human rights workers when tending their land. This has substantially lessened the degree of harassment, even though settlers still try to interfere with their work, threatening family members and international activists alike.

On Sunday the 10th of September, volunteers from Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) accompanied members of the Abu Ayash family to the 3 dunums bordering the settlement. Together, they picked about 1 ton, or 100 boxes, full of grapes which, in financial terms, means a significant income of 800-900 shekles for the family. Armed settler militia approached the harvesters with a jeering “Oh, there you are! We have been waiting for you!” and immediately took their positions along the road separating the land from the settler houses. Protesting whenever someone would climb onto the stone wall to reach for the bunches of grapes growing on the verge of the road, the settlers patrolled the area throughout the four hours the family were on the land. At one point, a military jeep pulled up and seemingly relieved the settler guards of their watch. As we were about to leave, a group of settler children approached to make fun of and spit at the activists.

In the debate concerning the Israeli occupation of Palestine, there is always a lot of talk about the security fears of colonist settlers and Israelis in general. It was, therefore, interesting to see how a young unarmed colonist mother with an infant strapped to her chest and a toddler hanging onto her left hand, calmly walked by the land where we were picking grapes, even stopping to get a closer look at us. This was before the armed settler militia had even arrived. Having seen this, and countless other examples of feigned security concerns, it is difficult to take seriously the proclaimed fear of attack from Palestinians – continuously used to justify the most barbarous policies and a continuation of the occupation.

Seventy dunums of farm land have already been completely confiscated by Karmi Zur colony, and the papers proving ownership have proven worthless in contesting the theft. In addition to the 70 dunums now within the settlement, the family owns an additional 5 dunums of land wedged in between the two settlements of Gush Etzion and Efrat. There are two ways of getting to this land – one a 10 minute drive on a settler-only road, and one a 60 minute journey by dirt-track over the hills. If Israeli police stop Palestinians traveling on the settler-only road they are charged a fine of 1,000 NIS. Both the fine and the time it takes to get to the land on the dirt-track are prohibitive factors that mean that the family is unable to tend their land as needed.

Palestinian grapes ready for sale
Palestinian grapes ready for sale

This year’s grape-harvest is now over. In a couple of months, the family will need to cut the vines and plow the earth. In the face of settler violence and military complicity, they will have to continue coordinating their plans with PSP in order to work on their own land. This is PSP’s second direct action in 10 days. PSP is a non-violent Palestinian-led movement based in Beit Ommar welcoming international participation and support.

September 19, 2006 at 9:37 pm

Bedouin Family Suffers From Israeli Settler Violence

Palestinian Beduins suffer from Israeli settlements

16th September 2006: A Bedouin family near the village of Susia was visited today by a group of internationals and Palestinians working for the PSP (Palestine Solidarity Project) and ISM. An illegal Israeli settlement has been built to the south-east and the Palestinians’ land is being steadily encroached on. Abed Alrhmam Mousa has lost a huge amount of his grazing land already. In the last couple of days the settlers have erected tents only a kilometer from Abeds family.

They are continually harassed and attacked by the settlers, who come sometimes by night but often in the morning, attacking both the family in their shelter as well as targeting individuals grazing the sheep. At present they are being attacked at least twice a week. In April of this year Abed was attacked badly, resulting in him needing 25 stitches in his head. His brother came to help and was attacked with a knife. Abed has reports from the hospital and the police, who took details (having taken 3 hours to arrive) but have done little else.

Palestinian Beduins suffer from Israeli settlements

Two months ago the settlers set fire to, and burnt down a tent and shelter. A family were inside at the time. In the same area, last year, the Palestinians planted 1000 olive trees. As soon as they left, the same day, the settlers tore them up.

The settlers continue to bring their sheep onto the Bedouin communities’ land and steal water from their wells.

When they come to attack, they always carry guns, often M16s, and sometimes smaller hand guns also. At times they have used Mace (chemical tear gas spray). These attacks have been reported many times. The Police say they will help but have done nothing. When internationals have called for help from the army, they have taken at least an hour to arrive (they are based 5-10 minutes away). In contrast, when the settlers have called for the army, they arrive promptly, always siding with and supporting the illegal settlers.

The families have asked for help in the form of a permanent presence of internationals to deter further settler attacks.

Last week an Oxfam Water Tanker supplying Palestinians in Susya was disabled by settlers who threw dozens of metal spikes on the road. This was just the latest attempt by settlers to force the Palestinians from their homes.

September 19, 2006 at 9:35 pm


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The Palestine Solidarity Project is a Palestinian-led project dedicated to opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land through non-violent direct action with international solidarity activists. It was founded in the village of Beit Ommar in the Southern West Bank during the Summer 2006.

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