Israeli settlers, Saturday morning, physically assaulted and briefly detained a Palestinian farmer and his son in Tuqu‘ town, southeast of Bethlehem, said a municipal source.WAFA correspondence reported head of Tuqu‘ local council, Taysir Abu Mefreh, as saying that ‘Ali Hmaid, 60, and his son, Eyad, in his 30s, were attacked by a number of settlers from Tekoa illegal settlement while they were plowing their land in Rakhma locality.

Settlers reportedly briefly detained Ali and his son, forcing them to lie face down on the ground. They also seized their tractor.

Tuqu‘, a town dating back to 1948, has a population of about 9,000 who originate from ‘Arab al-Ta‘amra. The town includes three other localities: Khirbet Ad Deir, Al Halkoom, and Khirbet Tuqu’.

According to the Tuqu‘ Town Profile published by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, thirty percent of the town population work in agriculture. Workers in agriculture are classified as one of the vulnerable social groups in the town.

The town population also depend on livestock for their livelihood. They produce and sell dairy products in local market and Bethlehem market.

The town occupies a total area of about 191,262 dunams of which 188,845 dunams are considered arable land, and 590 dunams are residential land. A total of 6,250 dunams (accounting for about 3 percent) are planted with seasonal and permanent crops. A total area of 1,499 dunams has been confiscated from the town population for Israeli settlement construction.

Agricultural production in the town depends mostly on rainwater. The most common crop cultivated within this area is white cabbage. A total rain-fed area of 5,000 dunams are planted with olive trees.

Following Oslo Interim Agreement, 141,682 dunams, accounting for 74.1% of the total area of the town, were classified as area C. A total of 46,589 dunams (accounting for 24.4% of the total area of the town) was classified as nature reserves.

Following Israeli occupation in 1967, Israel confiscated 1,436 dunams belonging to the town for the construction of Tekoa, Mshoki Dargot and Mizpe Shalem settlements and six other settlement outposts.

Tekoa settlement was established in 1977 on a total area of 1,071 dunams confiscated from the town. Settlers have frequently attacked Palestinians shepherds grazing their sheep on their land adjacent to the settlements and torched olive orchards.

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