No olives in Palestine
Ed Pybus from Edinburgh has sent this account from Jerusalem. Ed is in Palestine to observe the situation there.
Today (Feb 24) we hear more news from Beit Surik, where I was on Friday. The bulldozers and soldiers have arrived to begin work on the construction of the 'security fence'. A party of internationals heads up from the hostel I'm staying in, unfortunately I can't go with them, but speak to them when they get back to the hostel in Jerusalem.
They arrived at around 1pm, to find the villagers in shock, overwhelmed, angry and disorganised. Almost the whole village seems to be on the streets, and there's around 250 soldiers, police and border police in the area, who've sealed off the village and aren't allowing anyone to drive in or out. The internationals manage to get into the village on foot.
A bulldozer is working in the valley below the village, ploughing a track through the villagers’ farmland, uprooting olive and almond trees, and destroying the terraces. The shabab, (the boys and young men of the village) are hurling stones at the bulldozer and soldiers, who are replying with tear gas, tear gas that is being blown by the wind, and covering much of the village in a cloud.
The internationals are told that early that morning the villagers attempted to stop the work by sitting and lying around the bulldozers. When the time came to start work a large group of soldiers beat the villagers, leaving one hospitalised, many others injured and the bulldozer able to start work. Throughout the day the shabab continue to throw stones, soldiers continue to fire tear gas and the bulldozers continue to destroy the farmland.
At around 4pm, one of the internationals speaks to an ambulance driver, who tells him that 21 Palestinians have been taken to hospital, one with a broken arm, others with injuries from physical violence and gassing, including several young children.
The bulldozer continues working, widening the track it's created, surrounded by a ring of soldiers, preventing neither the Palestinians nor Internationals from getting close. Several hours later the bulldozer and soldiers retire to the neighbouring Israeli settlement of Haba Dar, followed by a crowd of shabab throwing stones, continuing to fire tear gas as they retreat leaving behind a large track of destroyed farmland, and a village in shock, a village on the verge of losing 90% of it's land and livelihood.