Last night settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement set fire to 70 olive trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. The trees belonged to the Thalji Aady family, who have been subject to frequent settler violence and military harassment. The fire was lit around 9:30 pm, and burned for 3 hours before fire trucks from the village were able to extinguish the flames. At 11:00 pm 3 military jeeps arrived and attempted to prevent villagers from extinguishing the fire, arresting 3 Palestinian youth in the process.
Settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement frequently destroy trees belonging to Palestinian farmers in Saffa, and several farmers have been violently attack. A series of settler attacks in 2009 left several farmers wounded and hundreds of trees destroyed. The Israeli army regularly denies the farmers access to their land, which they claim is Israeli state land despite the fact that all of the farmers have ownership documents.
For the past two weeks solidarity activists have been arrested accompanying farmers to their land in Saffa, and tear gas was shot at a larger group of supporters that joined the farmers last Saturday. Farmers who went to their land in Saffa without international accompaniment on Tuesday were detained in their land for five hours and threatened with arrest if they returned.