Today approximately twenty residents from the village of Beita near Nablus, as well as international human rights workers (HRWs), took to the mountain of Jabal al Arma to plant 200 trees in order to prevent the encroachment of nearby settlement Itamar.
The project of planting the 200 conifers was a collaboration between the municipality of Beita, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee and Norwegian People’s Aid.
The Beita municipality have reasons to believe that the mountain of Jabal al Arma on the outskirts of the village of Beita is planned as a potential site for a new outpost from the Itamar settlement, with the surrounding mountain-tops already covered with illegal settlement outposts. To prevent such a theft of land, the council is undertaking a program of caring for the site, which is already planted with olive trees, fig trees and grapes. It is hoped that by doing this, settlers will be deterred from attempting to occupy the site.
Jabal al Arma is extremely important for the village of Beita, as it contains fresh water springs that feed the town’s water supply; as well as ancient Roman ruins, which are a local tourist attraction. However, such features make it a prime target for settler occupation – as settlements are often positioned above water reserves, effectively stealing water as well as land.
This is a major problem throughout the West Bank, with settlement outposts and expansion annexing Palestinian land to Israel; polluting surrounding lands with raw sewage; and creating a system of apartheid within the West Bank as Israeli-only roads cut through Palestinian land, denying Palestinians the possibility of a contiguous state.
This project of protecting and reclaiming land is thus in operation throughout the entire West Bank, with more plantings planned for Nablus, as well as Tulkarm, Ramallah and Hebron.