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Wild boars ruin planting season for Salfit farmers

July 20, 2009 7:51 P.M. (Updated: July 22, 2009 7:37 P.M.)
Salfit – Ma’an – Fearing boars that have appeared in their fields in recent months, some Palestinian farmers from the northern West Bank district of Salfit opted not to plant crops this season.

According to Abu Khalil Ayyoub, a farmer from the village of Yasouf, farmers abstained from planting summer crops in the northern area of the village because they knew boars would destroy them as they have in the past.

He cited a recent herd of about 20 boars that trampled gardens and even attacked some residents.

Separately in the village of Ein Al-Qibliyya, southern Salfit, resident Fadi Haseil said a herd of boars attacked him, and that he escaped after climbing a nearby embankment and hurling stones at the wild animals.

Salfit residents have continuously complained about the boars, which they say are not indigenous to the area, attacking residents and crops in the northern West Bank districts. Last February 53-year-old Hikmat Abdul Mu'ti from the town of Beit Rima was hospitalized after suffering "deep wounds," according to medics at Yasser Arafat Hospital in Salfit city.

Boars have been causing problems inside Israel, as well. Israel's Nature and Parks Authority instituted a massive cull in the northern Haifa region in May, following complaints similar to the Palestinians' in Salfit. Environmentalists cite Israel's West Bank wall as a potential cause for the buildup of wild pigs in Salfit, as in recent years their annual migration toward the Galilee has been disrupted.

Some Salfit residents claim that the wild boars have escaped or were released intentionally from nearby Israeli settlements such as Ariel, although pigs are generally considered unclean in Judaism, as well as Islam. The only known Jewish-run pig farm in the region, the Institute for Animal Research, operates inside Israel at the Negev kibbutz of Lahav.

Still others insist that they have witnessed the pigs being unloaded from trucks by settlers. Mohammad Hassan last month told a Land Research Center field researcher he saw settlers release some in the Al-Ashara region of the Salfit-area village of Iskaka.

The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) also reports that settlers from Ariel "frequently" release wild boars into the area, causing economic damage and even physical attacks on people. The organization stated that there were four reported cases where children were injured by the animals.

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