Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Palestinian Farmers Plow Fields Despite Settler and Military Harassment

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

On the morning of Saturday, November 28, Palestinians from At-Tuwani and Yatta successfully plowed their fields in al-Khoruba Valley and al-Mashakha Valley, as well as fields on the property of Hajj Hussein Daoud. These fields lie southeast of Havot Ma'on, an illegal Israeli settlement outpost that in 2006 was designated for evacuation. Some of the fields had been plowed by settlers on November 5 when, according to Palestinian shepherds, the Israeli military was present and permitted the plowing to happen. Palestinians of nearby communities expressed concern, seeing this as another attempt by settlers to steal their land.

On November 28, accompanied by CPTers and other internationals, 20 Palestinians with 5 tractors began working their land. After a few minutes, 16 settlers emerged from Havot Ma'on. Some approached, yelling for Palestinians to get off "their land of Israel." As heated conversations between settlers and Palestinians ensued, a young man from Yatta attempted to hit a settler, and a youth from Yatta struck the settler with a piece of irrigation hose. Immediately, four of the settlers rushed toward the Palestinians and internationals, some with rocks in hand.

Shortly after, Israeli military and police arrived and insisted that the Palestinians could not plow in the area. Internationals showed the Israeli authorities documentation on "The Right to Access Agricultural Lands,"* an Israeli high court ruling which stipulates that the Israeli army must uphold property rights and protect Palestinian farmers who are entering and working their land. Instead
of complying with the ruling, soldiers and police gave conflicting orders about where the Palestinians and internationals could be and why. As these conversations unfolded, however, the Palestinians continued to work and managed to plow all the fields they had hoped to plow that day.

*Find "The Right to Access Agricultural Lands" at the website of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI): <www.acri.org.il/pdf/leaflet-land.pdf>

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