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Farmers prevented from planting trees

Jan. 13, 2010 1:48 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 13, 2010 9:39 A.M.)
Hebron – Ma'an – Two Palestinians and one child were injured on Tuesday as Israeli forces prohibited farmers from tending to their land in Safa village in the northern Hebron governorate, solidarity workers said.

"While the farmers were planting olive trees, Israeli forces attacked them and clashes erupted between both sides," said media spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Project Mohammad Awad.

Two men sustained injuries from rubber bullets used by Israeli forces and Hisham Al-Khlayel, 5, was taken to hospital to undergo treatment for shock as a result of tear gas used by forces to disperse those present, Awwad said.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the incident, saying troops responded to the group of farmers with "riot dispersal means," after youth threw rocks at the encroaching soldiers. He said there were no reports of injuries or damages, however.

"The IDF responded to the group of Palestinians by preventing them from approaching the area in order to avoid a scuffle," the spokesman said.

On Monday Israeli forces reportedly prohibited Palestinian farmers from planting 1,500 olive trees in the Abu Ar-Rish area, also in Beit Ummar.

"Despite the decision by an Israeli court allowing Palestinian farmers to work on their lands, Israeli troops banned farmers today from planting [olive trees]," said Awad.

"The troops said that it is a closed military area."

An Israeli military source said troops operating in the area had been advised that the valley between Beit Ummar and the Bay Ayin settlement was one of high tension, following a series of settler attacks on Palestinians. One Palestinian youth also snuck into the settlement in April and killed a settler youth.

The Israeli military source said the April attack gave Israeli forces a "reason to prevent" farmers from working in the area.

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