10 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Supporting Palestinian farmers in Beit Ummar, international activists joined the weekly Saturday activities–clearing the land for cultivation despite the harrassment of Israeli military and illegal settlers, which resulted in the injury of a Palestinian man and the arrest of a British national, Jude Wells.
At 9 AM the solidarity march to protect the farmland of Beit Ummar began from the local mosque to the main gate of the illegal Israeli settlement, Karmi Tzur. Dozens of citizens, Israeli and foreign activists participated in the march. Volunteeres removed the brush and thorns as well as the irrigation networks that the settlers put in to desecrate the farmland. Participants started chanting slogans in support of the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israeli soldiers arrived in the lane next to the field and began entering the field to prevent the farmers working. When work began again soldiers and border police briefly showed a military closure order to one of the Palestinian farmers. It was not possible to check the legality of the order and a request to photograph the order was refused.
But with the insistence of the participants in the march, a significant amount of the participants were able to access the land intended to be controlled. Flags were held up and the Israeli army violently reacted by brutally beating activists. A large number of settlers were gathered and started screaming and insulting the Palestinians, offending Muslims, as the army stood by.
Two participants in the action were arrested including 27 year old Jude Wells of Britain, and 45 year old Ali Abad, a member of the local Popular Committee who sustained injuries to his right hand. For a video of the arrests, visit this link.
Abad who was originally handcuffed to be arrested was transported by the Red Crescent to Alya hospital to treat his broken wrist. Wells was released from detainment after ten hours.
Riyad Abuayyash, a farmer who was present and witnessed the aggression said, “I want to live in peace with my neighbors, with mutual respect, my dream is to have my own house here and grow grapes on my land.”
After the second Inifada farmers of Beit Ummar were driven from the land which borders the illegal Israeli settlement. Without support and presence of internationals, the risk of farming their own land would be potentially fatal.