Tuesday, August 4, 2009
At 8:00 am an MPTer went with Palestinians and other internationals to accompany Abu Jabber Soleiby and his family to his land in Saffa, near the illegal Bat Ayin settlement, between
After the farmers had been in the valley for about an hour harvesting their first grapes of the year, one Israeli military jeep arrived between the settlement and the Palestinian agricultural land.
First Israeli Army Jeep Arrives
The farmers, satisfied with their small collection of grapes, decided to head back to the village.
Heading Back to the Village
After returning to the edge of the Palestinian village, well away from the illegal Israeli settlement that has been the source of violence in the area, the Palestinians and internationals were stopped by approximately 15 Israeli soldiers who blocked their return to Saffa.
Soldiers asked what the internationals were doing with the farmers in the valley, insisting that soldiers were always there in the past to protect the farmers when the Bat Ayin settlers came to harass them. Abu Jabber Soleiby showed his scars and bruises from previous settler attacks in rebuttal, and insisted that when settlers and soldiers were both present without internationals during past attacks, soldiers protected the settlers, not the Palestinians.
Abu Jabber Talks with Soldiers
After threatening two internationals with arrest and 20 minutes of negotiation, the soldiers allowed the farmers and their supporters to continue into the village.
Soldiers Allow Farmers to Pass with their Grapes
MPT was informed that just over three weeks ago, settlers set fire to hundreds of valuable fruit and olive trees on this Palestinian land. Combined with the cutting of over 125 trees in June and an earlier fire, settlers from Bat Ayin settlement have destroyed nearly all of the land that provides income for 125 extended family members of Abu Jabber, Hamad, and Abdullah Soleiby.
International and Israeli accompaniment of farmers in Saffa has been necessary to prevent violent attacks by settlers on the elderly farmers of the Soleiby family. Farmers have come under attack on several occasions in the past four months while attempting to farm in the valley on their own, including an attack in April that left 81-year-old Abdullah Soleiby with a cracked skull.