Dozens of farmers from the West Bank city of Hebron complained that Jewish settlers took their lands at gunpoint and started digging holes in the lands in preparation for planting thousands of trees before the Tu B’Shvat Jewish holiday. The settlers were carrying out the attack under the Israeli soldiers’ protection.A Palestinian farmer told the Israeli Ynet on Wednesday that the farmers were planting their lands when dozens of settlers came and started digging holes in the ground in preparation for planting thousands of trees for Tu B'Shvat.
One of the farmers, identified as Abdul-Majid Salem, said that he saw the settlers digging while the soldiers were guarding them, and when the farmers asked the soldiers about what was going on they said that there was a festival and ordered them to leave.
Salem added that following the incident he and the other Palestinian farmers were ordered to show documents proving ownership of the land.
The Ynet added that there was no violence involved in Wednesday’s incident, and that the farmers turned to Zacharia Seeda, a coordinator from an organization called Rabbis for Human Rights, who contacted the army asking them to stop the activities.
Seeda contacted the army but received no response.
Rabbis for Human rights said that this planting of trees was carried out in contrary to a resolution by the West Bank Appeals Committee that determined that “most of the farmlands in the area are owned by the Palestinians who already went to court”.
Abdul-Hadi Khantash, from the Committee for Land Defense in Hebron and an expert in Maps and Settlements, said that this attack means to create a new reality by repositioning the Green Line, separating the Palestinian territories from Israel, deeper into the Palestinian lands.
Khantash added that the settlers are creating continuity for the illegal settlements and the Palestinians are paying the price.
The Israeli army claimed that the area in question is part of the Meitarim industrial area “that belongs to the state”.
According to the army the Palestinian farmers appealed in 1982, when their lands was annexed and considered state land, and lost their appeal.
The Ynet added that all planting activities were authorized by army, and the infrastructure department of the so-called Civil Administration office that belongs to the Israeli army.