attempt to prohibit Palestinian agricultural work
At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, West Bank–On Saturday, 22
January, Palestinian farmers successfully plowed fields in Khoruba valley,
despite heavy harassment by settlers from the nearby settlement of Ma’on.
In the early morning, about twenty farmers from At-Tuwani started sowing seed
and plowing fields in Khoruba valley, southeast from At-Tuwani. Soon thereafter, five settlers arrived
from the nearby Havat Ma’on outpost and positioned themselves in front of the
tractors, in an attempt to prevent the farmers from completing their work.
As more settlers arrived, tempers flared, and the farmers attempted to
move the settlers and physically block them from interfering with the land
Approximately thirty minutes later, Israeli soldiers and Border Police arrived
and immediately stopped the tractors from plowing. The Israeli forces took the ID cards of three farmers while
removing both settlers and farmers from the immediate vicinity of the tractors.
The Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO), the branch of the Israeli
military responsible for the coordination of civilian affairs, later confirmed
the right of Palestinians to plow the fields but the Border Police requested
that all Palestinians and international peace activists leave the area, except
for the farmers directly involved in the agricultural work.
Three settler youths moved from Khoruba valley to an area one kilometer south
where they stopped another tractor from plowing and proceeded to throw stones
at a Palestinian shepherd and his flock. Israeli forces again intervened, removing the settler youths
from the area. After the completion of the agricultural work, one Palestinian farmer was taken
to the Kiryat Arba police station for questioning, and later released, after a
settler made a formal complaint that the farmer had assaulted him.
An international delegation with four British Members of Parliament was present
for part of the incident and spoke with Palestinian farmers, Israeli forces,
and an Israeli settler.
In the last five years, through several coordinated nonviolent actions,
Palestinians from At-Tuwani and Yatta have successfully cultivated fields
previously made inaccessible due to settler violence and harassment. By cultivating their fields,
Palestinians are asserting their right to the land and working to ensure their
food security for the coming seasons.
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international
presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.
Video of the incident is available here