On Saturday morning around forty international peace activists, including Israelis from the group ‘Peace Now’ and local Palestinians, went to Al Khadir village, Bethlehem, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, to plant olive trees.
Israeli forces have uprooted and demolished thousands of olive trees throughout the Palestinian territories. Peace and environmental activists replant olive trees to prevent the wastage of Palestinian land, as a form of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation and to assert the presence of international activists in solidarity with the Palestinians.
The activists planted trees on the borders of an illegal Israeli settlement, a small outpost on Palestinian land, in which the settlers live in caravans. It was also within an area that is soon to stolen from the Palestinians and absorbed into Israel by the construction of the apartheid wall. Al Khadir once had 22,000 dunams (22,000,000m²) of land, after the completion of the wall only 2,000 dunams (2,000,000 m²) will remain.
During the planting of the trees, angry settlers emerged from their caravans and shouted at the activists, accusing the peaceful demonstrators of, “playing games, on holy day [Shabbat].” The settlers also claimed that, through the planting of the trees, a nascent vineyard had been destroyed. But the land on which the activists planted the olive trees was unused.
Israeli soldiers were called and ordered the activists off the Palestinian land, but the activists continued to plant trees, refusing to leave. The soldiers marched the activists to a field further away from the settlement, where they resumed planting trees. The Israeli soldiers then violently manhandled the demonstrators, forcing them down the hill, provoking a fight between the unarmed activists and children, and the Israeli soldiers, who had rifles slung over their shoulders. At one point an irate soldier pointed his gun at a Palestinian child, who ran away.
The Israeli soldiers arrested one activist who was an Israeli member of ‘Peace Now.’
The non-violent demonstrators succeeded in planting in excess of a hundred trees on the soon to be annexed Palestinian land.
Israeli colony on Al Khadr village land