Farmers attacked daily by settlers near Bethlehem

12:00 Apr 16 2013 Safa

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Settlers from Bat Ayin, located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, regularly assault Palestinian farmers in an attempt to force them to abandon their fields.

Hajj Hammad Sleibi, 78, is well aware of this phenomenon. He says he is attacked nearly everyday.

"This land is mine. This land is mine not yours," Sleibi says on camera, addressing his undesirable neighbors.

Sleibi told Ma'an that settlers harass him physically when he tends his fields and destroy his crops on an hourly basis. His land is located in the Safa neighborhood of Beit Ummar, opposite the illegal settlement of Bat Ayin, built on private Palestinian land.

"They have chopped down everything. They did not leave a vine tree or an olive tree. They chopped down both newly-planted and old trees. They left nothing," he said, describing a recent attack.

"A settler told me recently, 'Hey old man! Big olive trees are all gone, and small trees are all down. Vine trees both big and small ones are all gone.' They left only a few trees as you see. In two days I will finish tending them. What is left for me as a farmer to eat? Will I eat soil?"

The mayor of Beit Ummar Habis Allami told Ma'an that the municipal council has repeatedly filed complaints to Israeli police about daily settler attacks, but they fall on deaf ears.

Settler attacks have increased since 2006, Sleibi says, and they physically attack him and pelt him with stones.

But the elderly farmer insists he will visit his land everyday as long as he has the strength.
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