April 21, 2007

Arabs uproot 100s of Jewish trees and grape vines in Gush Etzion

Death is the Arab's master. From Israel National News:

Residents of the Gush Etzion hilltop community of Sde Boaz had hundreds of grape vines and scores of fruit trees uprooted and destroyed Friday. The latest vandalism, though the most costly yet, is just the latest in a string of attacks on the community’s property.

The agricultural, eco-friendly community, located about a mile north of the town of Neve Daniel, was victim to a similar attack on the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shvat earlier this year, when one of its orchards was destroyed.

Residents of the agricultural community said that in addition to the destruction of the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards and fruit trees Friday, expensive irrigation systems were damaged and stolen as well. The Arab Muslim vandals used donkeys to plow under the hundreds of vines and uproot the fruit trees. “This carob tree was planted so our grandchildren could eat of its fruits,” said resident Gideon Kelman, holding the broken remains one of the slow-growing trees. “They have destroyed that.”

Amit Barak, a native of the Galilee city of Nazereth and now in charge of security in Sde Boaz, said that the entire incident happened during a three-hour window period Friday morning. “Someone went down this morning to prune his vines and everything was fine, and then, just a few hours after he finished, we noticed everything had been destroyed.” The vineyards and fruits trees were located on terraces lower down on the unfenced community’s hillside that cannot be seen from the community itself, where the IDF and residents conduct regular patrols.

Arabs and leftists, including ISM and Peace Now, have been frequenting the vicinity on almost a weekly basis since the initial attack on the community’s orchard. That attack took place in a valley below the community as residents stood by peacefully on the Sabbath of Tu B’Shvat, refusing to respond to the provocations by the crowd of foreign activists, who later attacked IDF soldiers attempting to carry out an arrest.

Last week, foreign activists, at least one claiming to be a journalist, engaged residents in an hours-long discussion regarding Jewish rights to live in Judea, Samaria and Israel as a whole. The foreigners, from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), Taayush and other groups, claimed to be on a fact-finding tour and were accompanied by local Arab handlers.

“Every time we take the high road when dealing with leftist provocations, we pay for it soon after,” said one resident who declined to have his name published. “The Arabs they bring with them are emboldened by what they view as our powerlessness and the clear message projected by the police – that it is open season on Jews and their property. When they turn on the radio and hear our Defense Minister [Amir Peretz] talking about how the Jews in Hevron’s Peace House don’t have the right to be in a building they paid $700,000 for – and they take it as a cue to attack us and grab state land - land that belongs to Jews and is being systematically grabbed by the PLO.”

Incidentally, at roughly the same time Friday as the most recent destruction took place, a left-wing/Arab protest against the Partition Wall took place at the nearby Arab village of Um Salamuna, west of the town of Efrat. At the protest, one of the main handlers hosting international activists in the village of Beit Omar was arrested.

Click here for an report by Omedia on the growing phenomenon of Arab uprootings of Jewish agriculture.