Itamar Colonists Burn Hundreds of Dunums in the Town of Beit Furik

Itamar Colonists Burn Hundreds of Dunums in the Town of Beit Furik
 Violation: The burning of 2,143 dunums of the lands of the village of Beit Furik.
Date: August 5th, 2010.
Location: Southeast of the village Beit Furik.
Perpetrators: Itamar colonists. 
Victims: A large number of farmers from Beit Furik.
As the olive tree has become throughout the generations a symbol of Palestinian steadfastness and attachment to the land, it has become a target of colonists resentment and hatred. In turn, it has become sort of a ritual to destroy that symbol on consistent basis. A number of methods were used by the colonists to achieve this end including cutting down, burning, uprooting and even pouring chemicals on it to prevent it from growing. However, the olive tree still stands resolute and unwavering in front of all these attempts.
The latest such attempts took place on the evening of Thursday August 5th, 2010, as Itamar colonists took advantage of the dark hours and the fact that Palestinian farmers were not present in their fields and set the fields ablaze in areas known as Khallet Al Hinti, Khallet Al Jaddou’a and khallet Al Sheikh Mohammad in the south eastern side of the village. The unusual high temperatures and the spread of dry weeds in the fig and olive fields contributed greatly to spreading the fire widely and quickly while causing extensive damage to a total of 2,143 dunums (according to OCHA).
Mr. A’atef Hanani, the head of the Beit Furik Municipality, provided the following description of events to the Land Research Center (LRC)’s field researcher: ‘ The fire started shortly after the sunset on Thursday the 5th of August. Upon its inception, the farmers headed towards the fields in an effort to put the fire out and to prevent its spread. However, they were surprised with the presence of the Israeli colonists from the colony of Itamar on the high hill overlooking the fire while Israeli occupation soldiers were located on lands closer to the fire. It was obvious that these soldiers were providing protection for the colonists as they have continued to set the Palestinian fields ablaze. The strong winds that was present at that night helped to spread the fire to nearby fields. As for us, we were prevented from reaching our lands on time to help save what can be saved. Even the Palestinian Civil Defense vehicles were not allowed to reach the site of the fires which raged for long hours while we were forced to just watch without any intervention. Only when the fires spread until it reached the vicinity of the colony that Israeli fire trucks were allowed to reach the fire and to try to put it out. We were allowed to reach and put out the fire in our fields only late at night after most of the damage has already occurred. We kept on battling the blazes for more than 24 hours !!!. We finally managed to put the fire out in the evening of Friday August 6th, 2010. The damage was so extensive that at least 25% of the population of Beit Furik (n=10,500) owned lands in the fire-stricken area. ‘
The areas of Khallet Al Hinti, Khallet Al Jaddou’a and khallet Al Sheikh Mohammad have been targeted at least three times by Itamar colonists due to the fact that these areas are located only 200 meters away from the colony. The preferred method of attack is arson. The first fire was carried out in 2002 while the second one was in 2007. The third fire is the one in discussion.  
The Town of Beit Furik:
The town is located 7 kilometers east of the city of Nablus on the western ridges of the Jordan Valley. The topography there is mountainous and has some hills and valleys. Part of its lands extends eastwards until it reaches the Jordan Valley. The overall area of the town is 34,910 dunums while 1,668 dunums are its built-up area.
Upon the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, a new policy was instituted to separate the Jordan Valley from the rest of the occupied lands due to its strategic importance. In so doing, the occupation forces declared 18,000 dunums of Beit Furiks’ lands in the Valley as a Closed Military Area to be used for military training purposes and camps.  In the year 1969, the colony of Makhoula was established on Beit Furik lands which continued to expand until it became a city that has a buildup area of 233 dunums while controlling 10,000 additional dunums of nearby Palestinian farming lands. The Israeli occupation forces have been actively involved in the terror campaign on lands surrounding Mekhoula as the soldiers usually chase after Palestinian herders in the area especially in lands along Road 80. The soldiers also prevent the herders and farmers from crossing Road 80 towards their eastern lands under the pretext that such lands are located in “Closed Military Areas”. Moreover, the colonists of Makhoula prevent Palestinians from accessing water resources spread throughout Beit Furik especially during the summer season while chasing off Palestinian herders from their lands using physical violence, arson and causing irrecoverable damages to the crops.
On the southeast side of the town of Beit Furik, the colony of Itamar reigns supreme on lands expropriated from the villages and towns of Awerta, Beit Furik, Al Yanoun and Rujeib. As of today, its municipal area is 6,963 dunums while its buildup area is 253 dunums. As of the end of 2005, there were 651 colonists in the colony, according to the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
Throughout the years of its existence, the colony of Itamar has become tantamount to terror, killing and destruction as it hosts the most extreme colonists in the entire West Bank. A large number of Palestinians were killed and their farm lands were damaged, destroyed and set ablaze throughout the years as a result of the deliberate acts of the Itamar colonist. Today, they have cooperated with this new wave of arson in an effort to drive the Palestinians away from their lands. Yet, the Palestinians of Beit Furik have expressed their steadfastness and determination to stay put in their land despite of all the attacks by the colonists and the occupation forces. 
Categories: Settlers Attacks