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At about 2 p.m. on Friday, December 5, 2008, farmers in Immatin, a village in Qalqiliya, noticed a fire had broken out in olive groves several kilometres south of the village. The farmers estimate that the fire spread over an area of 100-150 dunums (1 dunum = 1,000 square meters) before Palestinian firefighters were able to arrive and put it out.
An estimated 150 to 200 trees, manly olive but also a few almond and fig trees, were affected by the fire. While the almond and fig trees were destroyed, most of the olive trees are likely to survive. Farmers checking the damage to their groves surmised that the fire was likely to have been started in two places.
As there was widespread settler violence against Palestinians in the area as well as open calls for a week of “retaliations” after the eviction of extremist settlers from an occupied house in Hebron yesterday, farmers from Immatin believe the fire was set by settlers. They also report that settlers from the Immanu’el settlement and Havad Gilad outpost frequently come to the area on horses, and at about 4 p.m. today five settlers were spotted in the valley beside the groves, moving away from the area towards Immanu’el.