During the month of July, Israeli Jews set fire to and cut down olive trees in a West Bank village. This kind of violence is routine near Adei Ad.
On the noon of July 13th, Aamer Abd Al-Rahman, a farmer from the West Bank village Turmusia, was urgently summoned to his land. A neighbor informed him that Israeli civilians, who he said came down from the nearby settlement outpost of Adei Ad were raiding his field. Al-Rahman drove quickly to the place, and managed to see Israeli civilians steal his wheat and load it onto donkeys. When he reached the scene, the Israeli civilians fled. He called the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO), which arrived shortly thereafter along with representatives of the army and the police. The Israeli civilians were watching them from afar. Al-Rahman asked the police to advance toward the donkeys; as they reached them, about a dozen more settlers showed up and began swearing at them. A DCO man wrote a report, yet no one was arrested.
Al-Rahman finished loading up some of his stolen wheat, while the group headed down back to Turmusia. But when the cops left the scene, a group of Israeli civilians struck at another bale of wheat – stolen earlier and taken to a more remote area – and set it ablaze. At this point, a group of Samaria and Judea Police Deparment policemen reached the scene – Al-Rahman was under the impression these were people from the Nationalist Crime Deptartment – and the DCO man promised him solemnly that the attackers would be caught.
The Israeli media did not report on this case of theft and arson.
We move on to four days later. It is now July 17th, and Bahah Muhammad Sliman Faqaha – a resident of Sinjil who owns land in Turmusia – is woken up at 3 a.m. by a phone call. The day is the eve of the Eid al Fither, a major Muslim holiday, and the urgent phone call comes from Turmusia: your field has been set afire, he is told. When Faqaha reaches the scene, the residents have already doused the fire as best they could – although around 210 kilograms of wheat were destroyed in the fire. The residents who fought the fire tell him they saw figures making their way up to Adei Ad. Faqaha doesn’t bother to complain to the SJPD: he realized long ago that there is no point.
The Israeli media did not report on this case of arson.
On July 20th, Mahmoud Ahmed Muhammad Hazme reaches his olive grove in Turmusia, in a plot adjacent to Adei Ad, and finds that the 170 new olive saplings he planted were uprooted and broken. Judging by their dryness, Hazme estimates they were uprooted during the Eid Al Fither holiday. The Israeli DCO shows up, takes pictures, and expresses his shock; Hazme is not consoled. He tells the police that this is the sixth attack on his land in recent weeks by Israeli civilians, often from Adei Ad, and that he expects the police to do something with his complaints.
The Israeli media did not on report this attack.
We now jump 10 days forward. It is July 28th, and Aamer Abd Al Galil Yasef Juda, a resident of Turmusia, is urgently summoned by phone by the other residents: come quickly, your field is on fire. He reaches the scene and finds his harvested wheat, which he put in bales several days ago, ablaze. A witness tells him he saw Israeli civilians coming down from the Adei Ad mountain to his field, and then saw the smoke begin to rise. Juda complained to the police.
The Israeli media did not rep… well, you already got the gist.
What happens here is quite simple. Faqaha, who lost all will to complain to the police, described it succinctly. “Their method is to cause a mess so we won’t reach our land. They want it to themselves. Down the slope from Adei Ad to our land is a cave where the hilltop youth stay. I think these are the ones who harass us. The army pushes them away every time, but they keep coming back. The army and the police know them well but make no effort to detain them and put them on trial.” The cave, by the way, is known to Juda as well. It seems the only ones not to know of it are the people at the Nationalist Crime Department.
We described this method – violence intended to cause Palestinians to despair and leave their land – two years ago in a report focusing on Adei Ad titled “The Road to Dispossession.” Adei Ad, an illegal outpost that the Binyamin Local Council boasts about publicly (Hebrew), has been invading Palestinian land for over a decade. Last December, we appealed to the HCJ, demanding it be removed based on the fact that it continuously violates the human rights of Palestinian.
This method of dispossession through violence has not disappeared since that report. The number of incidents – four in the span of around two weeks near Adei Ad – may be exceptional, but the method itself is a fixture. This post deals with the July attacks, but there are many more attacks on Turmusia. One attack in January, for instance, destroyed 5,000 olive saplings.
These are quiet attacks, taking place on a near-daily basis — their goal is sow fear and despair. They are not fancy, they’re not followed by a colorful slogan, they “merely” intend to convince agricultural communities that there is no point in trying to keep their land. Even if you manage to raise crops in the impossible conditions near an outpost, even if the army allows you access to your land, someone will steal the fruit of your labor. And if he can’t steal it, he’ll torch it. Neither you nor me shall have it.
The Israeli media woke up in terror a month ago after the Duma terror attack, and (finally) realized that we are dealing with Jewish terrorists. Wake up and smell the coffee. They have been here for many years now. The Israeli media simply felt it is better to ignore them, or worse, to label their attacks “graffiti.”
So, once more: this isn’t about graffiti. This is an intentional campaign to terrorize farmers through the use of violence, whose goal is dispossession. These gangs may be less organized than the one that torched the house in Duma. But the negligence of the authorities is the same.
And this must end.