Settlers Try to Prevent Farmers From Ploughing Their Land in W. Bank

Palestinians in W. Bank were able to work on their land only after volunteers alerted security forces to area.

Settlers on Sunday tried to prevent Palestinian farmers from ploughing three plots of land in the West Bank village of Tulat east of Qalqilyah.

Only after human rights group Yesh Din intervened and alerted security forces to the area were the farmers able to resume work, the Israeli non-profit organization reported.

The villagers claim that on Saturday four Israelis, apparently from one of the adjacent settlements, beat two shepherds from the village. The shepherds intend to file a complaint with the police on Monday.

On December 14, 2005, village residents saw armed settlers ploughing the village's three plots of land with a tractor. With the aid of Yesh Din activists, the villages filed a complaint with the police, who subsequently recommended that they replough the land. This is what the villagers intended to do on Sunday.

The settlement adjacent to the village is Ma'aleh Shomron. An illegal outpost, Elmatan, has been built nearby recently.

On Sunday morning, the farmers noticed the Israelis gathering with several dogs on a hill overlooking their fields, where Elmatan in located. The Palestinians stopped ploughing and immediately called Yesh Din. Soldiers who arrived at the scene intervened between the settlers and the farmers.

According to a Yesh Din representative, the settlers claimed that the plots were state land, but a Civil Administration official who arrived in the area rejected their claim and said that the land was the villagers' private property. The farmers resumed work in the three plots three hours later.

Since March 2005, Tulat residents, with the assistance of Yesh Din, have filed seven complaints against settlers from the area, three of the complaints in December alone.

The Palestinians allege that settlers assaulted them and trespassed on their property. According to one of the villagers, a settler threatened him after he filed complaint with the police.