For the second consecutive day, the people of the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar, with support from international activists, have blocked Israeli bulldozers attemptings to destroy Palestinian farmland in order to build a wall that would expand an illegal Israeli settlement nearby.
The action began in the afternoon of July 2, when two Israeli bulldozers plowed through a stone wall and destroyed more than 20 grape vines belonging to a local farmer, according to reports by the International Solidarity Movement. Thirty Palestinians, four internationals, and two Israelis arrived at the site to protest. A Palestinian activist, Musa Abu Marya, and two internationals sat and lay in front of the bulldozer and succeeded in stopping it. The army arrived, beat Marya, and detained him until the protesters dispersed. Two other Palestinians were beaten by one soldier.
In total, the dispute involves 5,000 dunmans of agricultural land. The Israeli army commander and soldiers on the scene claimed that the land was purchased by the settlement of Karmi Tsor, yet the Palestinian landowners were present and denied any such claim. The local DCO (District Coordinating Office – essentially the Israeli civil/military administration), when called, denied that the settlement had purchased the land, but said the army has an order to take the lands for "security" to build a wall for the settlement.
Later that day an Israeli military judge apparently ruled that the work should continue, and the Israeli bulldozers reappeared at the site early on the morning of July 3. Once again, however, Palestinian and international activists also turned out, ready to non-violently block the bulldozers with their bodies. The army then agreed to suspend work at the site, and the bulldozers moved to another area, pending the arrival of a lawyer to check the project.
As of mid-day on July July 3, no work was going on at the disputed site, but residents and internationals on the scene said they feared the bulldozers could come back at any moment to continue bulldozing the Palestinian lands.