ZOA Appeals To Netanyahu Govt. To Start Protecting Israeli Farmers From Palestinian Attacks
October 7, 2010


ZOA sends letter to Israel Min. of Internal Security





The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon the Netanyahu government to ensure that Jewish farmers lawfully tilling land in Judea and Samaria receive all necessary military and police protection against Palestinian assaults in precisely the same way that Palestinian farmers are currently being protected by Israeli forces while working their land.


A recent three year study by the Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot, found that “Jewish farmers who work their land by law in the very same area [as Palestinian farmers] suffer daily abuse at the hands of their Arab neighbors, who are backed and incited by … leftist human-farmer rights champions. The damages sustained by these Jewish farmers are estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, and who could estimate the heartache of a farmer whose crops were damaged? Yet the State of Israel’s law enforcement authorities do almost nothing to protect [Jewish farmers] and the media barely covers them or their pain.”


The Yediot Ahronot report, after reviewing dozens of police cases and interviewing dozens of farmers, concluded that there is a:


“wide-ranging phenomenon of deliberate, frequent, and methodical attacks premised on nationalistic rather than criminal motives: Arson, trespassing, sabotaging equipment, and the deliberate damaging of crops. We also discovered visible involvement of leftist organizations – the very same ones that preach to us about harming corps – in terms of incitement, organization, active participation, and legal backing given to the rioters and vandals. The olive trees of Jewish farmers prompt the exact opposite reaction, for some reason … Meanwhile, Arab farmers arrive at work accompanied by massive army and police protection. The forces include police officers skilled in carrying out arrests and are assisted by the police’s and even Shin Bet’s intelligence agents. And if this isn’t enough, the establishment would not hesitate to issue administrative orders against people it thinks may harm Arab olives – where did the holy principle of equality before the law disappear? About a month ago, we turned to the police again in the wake of five arson cases that caused grave damages and even threatened the lives of residents. In all these cases, despite evidence on the ground, nobody was arrested and police files remained empty. In one case, the police did not even issue a property tax authorization, forcing the farmer to sustain the damages. In our letters, we demanded that police commanders’ preparations for the olive harvesting season also includes an effort to protect the Jewish farmers. The letters had not been answered yet” (Orit Struck, ‘What about Jewish farmers?’ Yediot Ahronot, October 6, 2010).


A recent, specific instance of the problem is the case of Israeli farmer, Yisrael Orbach, whose orchards have been set on fire twice in four days in the last week by neighboring Palestinians. Orbach used to herd sheep, but was forced to give that up after numerous thefts by Arabs, including those from a nearby village which he reports is filled with members of Hamas. Orbach noted that the nearby Nebi Samuel site is not being adequately protected by the authorities, who recently closed it to visitors at night because they were not willing to police it during hours of darkness. (Under informal agreements proposed by the previous Olmert government but rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the PA would take control of Nebi Samuel. The Israeli government tourist information site lists Nebi Samuel along with other holy sites but unlike the others, there is no link for details on travel directions).


Orbach says the latest attempt to destroy his farm is only one of countless attacks on it and on the traditional burial site, where Jewish holy items have been desecrated in the past, as pictured.  “Since the freeze, the Arabs have staged a kind of Intifada against us,” he said. He used to herd sheep but was forced to give that up after numerous thefts by Arabs, including those from a nearby village which he reports is filled with members of Hamas. He now grows pomegranate, olive and fig trees, among others, but the Arabs have tried to destroy them, as well (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, ‘Legacy of Arab Attacks on Jewish Farm,’ Israel National News, October 5, 2010).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The latest news of the dereliction of duty by Israeli authorities in protecting vulnerable Israeli farmers lawfully tilling their own productive land stands in sharp and dismaying contrast to the proper protection offered to Palestinian farmers. Making this asymmetry even worse are the examples of active hostility and indifference to the Israeli farmers shown by some individuals in the security forces whose job it is to protect one and all equally.


“This unacceptable state of affairs requires remedy. The ZOA has written to the Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beiteinu) and his party head, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, calling upon them to investigate the matter and to ensure that the police and security services start affording Jewish farmers the full protections to which they’re entitled. The ZOA hopes that the Netanyahu government to investigate immediately what has been occurring and will implement all necessary steps to ensure that the Israeli police and army are adequately meeting all their responsibilities in their prime, vital function: protecting the lives and property of Israeli citizens.”

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