On Thursday morning, Palestinian farmers and international supporters were barred from irrigating the olive trees they had planted on Land Day (March 30) in the valley east of Awarta. For a month now, on every Thursday, people gather to reclaim the threatened lands.
Eye witnesses reported that people went around 9 am to irrigate their trees. However, almost immediately a military jeep driven by settlement guards approached them. Armed settlers got out of the car and threatened that if the Palestinian farmers didnât evacuate the area immediately they would shoot them. One of the armed soldiers prepared his gun and pointed it at people to terrify them. However, the people did not back down and it was only when the Israeli Occupation Forces came to the spot that they were finally forced to leave. The IOF repeated the same demands as the settlers and gave the people 5 minutes to leave.
The head of the village council and the local coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, Hassan Awad, said that this activity is part of an effort to return to the village land, which they are isolated from by the settlement. At he beginning of the second intifada, large parts of Awartaâs lands were declared off limits for Palestinian farmers. It is now almost 8 years since they have not been allowed to work these fields. It is in this area that the Israeli Occupation Forces wilfully killed two youths from the village while they were already detained.
As a reaction to this further crime, the local popular committee decided to begin attempts to break the siege on the land and for this purpose organized a demonstration and days of voluntary work to plant trees. For one month now, every Thursday, people gather to reclaim the threatened lands.
Hassan Awwad declared that these activities will continue and called the people in the village and international supporters to join the farmers in their efforts to reclaim their land and to stop the relentless expansion of Itamar settlement.