The Center for Freedom and Justice works with farmers in Beit Ommar to restore land that has been destroyed in settler attacks and by the Israeli military. Settlement expansion, settler violence and improper disposal of settlement waste have destroyed thousands of donums of fertile agricultural land in Beit Ommar, crippling agricultural production and destroying the local economy.
- Settlement Expansion: Beit Ommar has lost over 5,500 dunams of fertile agricultural land due to the expansion of 6 Israeli settlements to the north and south of the village. Construction on these settlements continues on a daily basis, and another 10,000 dunams of farmland are currently under threat of annexation. Settlement expansion has cost farmers millions of shekels in lost income, and thousands of fruit and olive trees have been destroyed by the Israeli military to make way for expanding settlements.
- Settler Violence: Settler violence has also been a major obstacle to Palestinian agricultural production. In the Saffa district alone, 14 settler attacks over the past 2 years have left several farmers wounded, one murdered, and thousands of fruit and olive trees destroyed.
- Improper Disposal of Settlement Waste: Neighboring settlements frequently release untreated sewage onto Palestinian farmland, destroying crops and contaminating the ground soil. In 2010 the Gush Etzion settlement pumped thousands of liters of raw sewage onto the land of the Sabarna family, destroying over 50 dunams of grape vines. The exposure of fertile agricultural land to untreated sewage has had devastating environmental repercussions, and has posed serious health risks to village residents.
The Center for Freedom and Justice has organized the replanting of over 3,500 trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar, as well as the rehabilitation of wells and other structures on the land. We have also planted 900 trees on Palestinian land near the Israeli Karmei Tsur settlement. We are currently working to expand our land rehabilitation program through the construction of a transplants greenhouse that will produce tree saplings for local farmers who have lost trees as a result of the Israeli occupation.