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.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Israeli settlers lay in front of tractors; attempt to prohibit Palestinian agricultural work

Israeli settlers, living in the West Bank in contravention of international law, engaged in a bizarre act of civil disobedience in an attempt to stop Palestinians from cultivating their own land. Despite the fact that Palestinians legally own the land, and have the paperwork to prove it, settlers were angry because they believe that their land ownership is divinely ordained.  And land ownership from 'on high' certainly supersedes the ownership documents that these Palestinians still hold from the Ottoman empire. Fortunately, these Palestinian farmers wouldn't concede an inch and continued plowing as two settlers laid in the dirt on front of the tractors while other settlers mounted the tractors.  The settlers' harassment wasn't enough to stop the farmers from completing their work.  

An excerpt from the CPT release:
On Saturday, 22nd of January, Palestinian farmers successfully plowed fields in Khoruba valley, despite heavy harassment by settlers from the nearby  settlement of Ma'on.

In the early morning, about twenty farmers from At-Tuwani started sowing seed and plowing fields in Khoruba valley, southeast from At-Tuwani. Soon thereafter, five settlers arrived from nearby Havat Ma'on outpost and positioned themselves in front of the tractors, in an attempt to prevent the farmers from completing their work.  As more settlers arrived, tempers flared and the farmers attempted to move the settlers and physically block them from interfering with the land cultivation.
When the settlers first arrived they headed directly for the tractors without speaking with anyone. The army hadn't arrived yet and I feared the incident would escalate, which of course would result in Palestinians being arrested, or worse. 
Picture Credit: Operation Dove (more available here)
The army soon arrived and thus commenced the charade of Palestinian farmers having to spend hours convincing the soldiers the the civil administration that their documents were legitimate and they did in fact have the right to plow this land.

A settler couple, who spoke English as a first language, came out shouting like a broken record that we were all Nazis. After realizing that calling us Nazis wasn't really getting them anywhere, they moved to a more civil discourse about Jewish right to the land and, ironically, European property rights: 

The farmers were extremely positive about the outcome of the day. The civil administration had agreed to let the farmers continue working, and Israeli forces stayed in the area to keep the settlers at bay. I'm certain most farmers in the world wouldn't feel positive about antagonistic, gun-wielding land thieves jumping on and in front of their tractors. Nonetheless, the fields were plowed and will yield wheat for harvest season. 

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