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Palestinian farmers and internationals prevented from working their land by Israeli army

15th May 2009

On the morning of the 15th, a group of international and Israelis helped the al-Jabari family to clear their lands in readiness for planting a new crop.  The al-Jabari family’s land is located between the two illegal Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba and Giv’at HaAvot in the Hebron district of the southern West Bank.  After just half an hour the Israeli army, police and border police arrived in large numbers and used force to remove the farmers and solidarity activists from the land.

At 9:45am on the 15th, 20 Palestinians went to the fields accompanied by six Israelis, and four international human rights observers to clear terraces of farmland belonging to the al-Jabari family.  The Israeli police were already guarding the “synagogue” when the farmers arrived.  After working the land for half an hour the army, the police and the border police moved up to the farmers and showed a “closed military zone” order and ordered everyone but the Palestinians to leave or be arrested. The owner of the land was initially allowed to stay.  Later, however, he was forcibly dragged off by the soldiers.

Between the two illegal settlements is an area of Palestinian owned farm land where vines and olives have been grown for generations.  The land has been falling into disuse because the families who own it are in fear of the increasingly violent intimidation by the police and settlers.  Recently the settlers, under the protection of the police, erected a large tent on the Palestinian farm land between the settlements.  The settlers provoked local Palestinian residents by calling the illegal tent a “synagogue” thereby engineering claims of anti-semitism against any attempt to remove it from the farm land.