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Residents of Burin protest the destruction of an olive grove by settlers

4 October 2009

The village of Burin came under attack from the nearby illegal settlement of Bracha on Monday the 28th of September. At 5am 25 settlers invaded the farmland of Abid Moussar, taking to his olive trees with chainsaws. 150 trees in total, covering 4 dunums of land were destroyed, just one day before Moussar planned to begin harvesting his crops. A demonstration was called for the following Saturday on the devastated land, only for protesters to be forced off the site by the military.

The trees, planted 30 years ago by Moussar himself, will take another 10 years to rejuvenate to a point at which they can once again be harvested for their olives. The same farmland has come under attack year after year, with settlers attempting to burn the trees on several occasions. For Moussar, though he owns the largest farm in the area of Burin, the economic consequences are dire – this is his only source of income. More widely, the effects of the annexation of thousands of dunums of land by settlements Yitzhar and Bracha that envelope Burin, ripple throughout the community.

The harvest has begun regardless, with villagers working the wasted land before the trees can be cleared. Military and international presence maintain a close watch with minimal settler incursion since the initial attacks.

The following Saturday, 3 October, local and international protesters gathered in the centre of the village to march to the site of the destruction, where they hoped to demonstrate peacefully against the violent adversity on their doorstep by clearing the land, readying it for the next year and hopefully a more successful harvest. Soldiers surrounded the protesters as they approached the land, allowing them stay long enough only to clear the trees. The protesters were then forced off, as the army stated the villagers could return only on the dates given to them by the District Coordinating Office.

The village of Burin and its surrounding neighbours lost thousands of dunums of land  and have been subject to numerous violent attacks from the two illegal settlements of Bracha and Yitzhar that sandwich the Palestinian villages.

Settlements are illegal under international law and both settlements have numerous outposts that continue to annex further Palestinian land in violation of both Israeli and international law.