27th March 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Qaryut, Occupied Palestine
By Team Nablus
In commemoration of Land Day, five hundred villagers planted trees on land banned from cultivation for 17 years in the Palestinian village of Qaryut. The action was met by tear gas by Israeli soldiers and threats from Israeli settlers.
On 27 March, this action took place with a relatively large group of about 30 Palestinians including all of the owners of the land, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli.
The Palestinian tree planters were met at first by verbal harassment from the nearby settlers and death threats if the planters continued their action. Following, Israeli soldiers attempted to disband the group using tear gas on the gathering. The Palestinians tree planters remained to complete their action before leaving the site.
The nearest illegal Israeli settlements to Qaryut, which impose on Qaryut land as well as some surrounding Palestinian villages, include Eli, Shiloh and Shivot Rahil. Settlements surrounding Qaryut have made Palestinian olive tree burning common vandalism by settlers during summer months.
In addition, Israeli army soldiers enforce key roads closures on roads leading to Nablus and Ramallah.
A local municipality representative and UNICEF coordinator for youth events, said that Qaryut villagers filed an appeal to the Israeli government regarding these closures, but are awaiting response. In the meantime, Qaryut villagers hold regular peaceful demonstrations to open the roads, succeeding in this effort sometimes, the representative said, only for the road to be closed after the Palestinian demonstrators leave.
Nearby Israeli settlers also hold demonstrations claiming Qaryut as their land. Israeli school children arrive for field trips to Qaryut as part of the Israeli attempt to claim the land illegally and some ruins that exist on Qaryut land.
Qaryut is a village of 14000 dunum of which 78% has been illegally taken as Israeli land for settlements and agriculture. However, even the 9800 dunum left for the ownership of the native Palestinians is threatened often by bans on cultivation of land, olive tree damage by settlers , and further difficulty provided by key road closures enforced by the Israeli army.