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Witnesses: Armed settler threatens farmers

Aug. 19, 2010 9:18 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 20, 2010 12:21 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- An armed settler accompanied by settlement security guards prevented Palestinian farmers and peace activists from irrigating their land near Nablus on Thursday morning, witnesses said.

A resident of the illegal Itamar settlement, carrying a rifle and traveling in an armored vehicle with guards, approached farmers en route to water their recently planted olive trees. Witnesses said the settler threatened to shoot the farmers, from Awarta village, if they did not leave the area.

Israeli forces arrived and reiterated the settler’s orders, giving the farmers five minutes to evacuate the area, locals added.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said an armed security guard working at Itamar noticed a group of around 30 gathered near the settlement and notified the Israeli army, before approaching the group himself. Soldiers arrived and inspected the group's documents, and permitted some farmers to work their land, she added. The spokeswoman was not aware of the presence of an armed settler.

Hassan Awad, head of Awarta village council, said that villagers will continue to work on their land every Thursday to protest the expansion of illegal settlements on their land.

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