9 November 2009 | Christian Peacemaker Team
For immediate release:
At-Tuwani – On the morning of Sunday 8 November 2009 four Israeli settler youth from Ma’on settlement plowed privately-owned Palestinian fields in Umm Zeituna valley. The settlers arrived at approximately 8:50am and chased two Palestinian shepherds off the land throwing stones, before starting plowing. Local Palestinian shepherds and international peace activists from Operation Dove called the Israeli police, who failed to respond to the incident.
Settlers worked for several hours and plowed the whole valley which is situated on privately-owned Palestinian land and lies outside of Ma’on’s municipal boundaries.
Local shepherds also reported that on Friday 5 November settlers from Ma’on, with the accompaniment of Israeli soldiers, plowed a field near the Palestinian village of Maghayir al Abeed belonging to Hajj Hussein Daoud from the Palestinian city of Yatta. The owner has filed several complaints regarding settlers violating his property rights. In recent years the Palestinian land owner requested the presence of Israeli police and the Israeli army during plowing and harvesting due to Israeli settler attacks.
Additionally, in recent days three privately-owned Palestinian fields in Mashakha valley, adjacent to a recent expansion by the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on, have also been plowed. Palestinian shepherds have told internationals from Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove that they suspect that settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on plowed the land.
Due to settler violence and threats, Palestinians were forced to abandon their homes in Umm Zeituna in 1998. Settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on continue to harass and attack Palestinians in the area of Umm Zeituna. Despite the ongoing threats the area is still used by local Palestinian community for farming activities, grazing their flocks, gathering herbs and wood, and as path for traveling to the nearby city of Yatta.
On Friday 10 April 2009 five masked Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian women in Umm Zeituna, throwing rocks and beating one of the women. The injured woman needed to be hospitalized to receive treatment for her injuries. (see At-Tuwani release: http://cpt.org/cptnet/2009/04/11/tuwani-release-masked-settlers-attack-three-palestinian-women-south-hebron-hills)
(Also see a B’tselem interview: http://www.btselem.org/english/testimonies/20090410_settlers_assault_pregnang_woman_near_um_al_kheir_witness_al_hazalin.asp)
In recent months settlers from the Israeli settlement of Ma’on have further expanded the settlement by erecting six new mobile homes and executing preparatory building work on land beyond the existing boundary fence of Ma’on. In addition, the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on also continues to expand.