SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Israeli military and police intervene to prevent settlers from interfering with Palestinian plowing

CPTnet
19 November 2007
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Israeli military and police
intervene to prevent settlers from interfering with Palestinian plowing

On Thursday, 15 November, 2007, two Palestinian families went to plow their
land on the south side of Route 317 between Qawawis and Susiya. As
requested, the landowners had notified the Israeli military District
Coordinating Office (DCO) of their plans.

Palestinian landowners, accompanied by an Israeli military escort, arrived
around 8:00 a.m. to begin work. When they arrived, two Israeli settlers
were already present on the Palestinian land. Additional settlers soon
arrived, eventually numbering about twenty.

Israeli police arrived at 9:30 a.m. and began negotiating with the settlers
and Palestinians. The settlers refused to leave the field. The Palestinian
landowners waited in a nearby olive grove. When the DCO officer arrived at
11:00 am, he declared that Palestinians had a right to work their land, and
gave the settlers five minutes to leave.

When the Palestinian landowners started to drive their tractors into the
fields, a group of settlers tried to prevent them from working by standing
in front of, and climbing on the back of the tractor. The police tried to
remove them and prevent them from further interfering with the Palestinians
working and took away a number of settlers who refused to leave or cooperate
with removal.

The police did not immediately arrest or detain these individuals, but
released them at the edge of the field. The same settlers kept returning to
interfere with Palestinians plowing. Several times, Israeli police had to
remove the settlers by force from the Palestinians' fields.

At one point, Israeli police appeared to try arresting one young male
settler. Immediately a large group of settlers massed around the police
jeep. An adult male settler attempted to prevent the arrest by putting his
arms around the young settler, pulling them both to the ground. Police
struggled to regain custody of the first settler and eventually took both of
these settlers away. While these events were going on, Palestinians
continued quickly plowing and spreading seed, finishing their work around
1:00 p.m. After the Palestinians had completed their work and left the
area, Israeli police, Israeli border police and the army left.

Israeli military and police are obligated to protect the rights of
Palestinian residents of the West Bank, and specifically their right to
access and work their land, as upheld in a 26 June 2006, ruling by the
Israeli High Court.

To view photos of this incident, go to http://www.cpt.org/gallery/album228