Attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank continue apace, while the occupational forces provide the aggressors' with protection. The attacks, ranging from destruction of fruit trees to seizure of land, demonstrate Israel's continued commitment to policies of terrorism and ethnic cleansing as they continue to expand and build on stolen land.
On Saturday the 12th of May a group of settlers entered and captured farmland belonging to a Palestinian from Al Khader, a village to the south of Bethlehem. Stop the Wall area coordinator, Ahmed Khadr, said that a group of settlers, led by an individual known as Ananias, took an area of around 6 acres, owned by Mohammed Mustapha Ghoneim. Ghoneim was on his way to his land early on Saturday morning, when he found the settlers blocking the way. They proceeded to inform him that the land had been "appropriated", and warned him of dire consequences if he attempted to enter. Recently Ananias and his gang have, with support of the occupational forces, stepped up their campaign of land theft in the region, "appropriating" more than 300 acres, mostly belonging to the Sabih family. They frequently use dogs to assault and terrorize farmers, steal agricultural equipment and spray the land with water laced with chemicals.
On the same day, a group of settlers attacked shepherd Ma'moun Nassar, who was tending to his flock near the village of Madama south of Nablus, and beat him.
Early on Sunday morning similar attacks took place in the district of Hebron. A group of settlers from the Hafat Maon settlement descended on the land of Ribhi Ahmed Jibrin Rabie and Salman Jibrin Rabie to the east of Yatta, and proceeded to cut dozens of olive trees. Meanwhile in the town Beit Ummar a group of settlers from Beit Ain, a settlement built on land that belongs to the town, chopped down olive trees and grape vines belonging to Hammad Abdul Hamid, who suffered five similar attacks in the last year.
The mayor of Yatta issued a statement accusing Israel of seeking to displace around seven thousand Palestinians living in the vicinity of the city. He pointed to the construction of 11 settlements in the area and the construction of the Route 60 bypass, use of which is denied to Palestinians. He pointed out that such projects clearly pointed to the continuing ethnic cleansing policies practiced by the occupation. Yatta and other Palestinian population centers have been targets of sustained settler attacks and search and arrest campaigns, designed to frighten the population into leaving land they have lived on for generations.