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IOF attack South Bethlehem farmers, 3 arrested

by the ISM media team, February 27th

UDPATE March 1st – Rashid remains in detention in Etzion military detention centre. Rashid was abducted for assaulting a soldier after being beaten by the IOF.

UPDATE and CORRECTION February 28th – Mahmoud, who is the Village Council Head, was released last night but Rashid, his son, remains in detention.

UPDATE 6.30PM – Mahmoud and Adil Zaqatka have been released but Village Council Head Rashid Zaqatka remains in captivity at Gush Etzion police station.

This morning Israeli military bulldozers started razing the farmland of Umm Salamuna village south of Bethlehem for the route of the Apartheid Wall. The bulldozers uprooted hundreds of grape vines and apricot trees belonging to villagers. When the mostly elderly farmers tried to resist by blocking the bulldozers they were beaten and attacked with concussion grenades and tear gas. Two elderly farmers were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital with a broken arm.

Head of Umm Salamuna Village Council, Rashid Zaqatka, and his son Mahmoud Zaqatka were abducted and taken to an unknown destination. Another family member Adil Zaqatka was later abducted. They all remain in captivity.

After bulldozers withdrew from the area the army detained all the villagers on the land for two hours and searched everyone, claiming they had lost some binoculars. Before leaving the army threatened the villagers not to come to their land again or there would be ‘serious consequences’.

Israel plans to annex 700 dunums and confiscate 270 dunums of agricultural land for the route of the Wall in Umm Salamuna. Although the villagers are challenging the route of the Wall in the Israeli Supreme Court, a Court order freezing work was lifted last week and the bulldozers have recommenced razing the village’s agricultural land.

Mahmoud Zawahira – 0599586004, 0522591386
Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Umm Salamuna