The Save the Land Campaign aims to raise funds for seedlings in order to replant olive trees with local farmers who have lost their trees and land due to the Israeli occupation. Our goal is to buy 5000 seedlings; each seedling costs 22 NIS ($6). The price includes a seedling, a stick, and a cover for protection from weather changes. We hope to save our land from confiscation by continuing to cultivate and plant olive trees on Palestinian land near the illegal Israeli settlements. There are many mechanisms through which the Israeli occupation cripples agricultural production in Beit Ommar; through settlement expansion, the improper disposal of settlement waste, and direct settler violence.
Beit Ommar has lost 5,500 dunams (1 dunam = 917 square meters) of fertile agricultural land due to the expansion of 6 illegal Israeli settlements to the North and South of the village. Construction on these settlements continues on a daily basis and is crippling agricultural production and destroying the local economy. The Israeli military has destroyed thousands of fruit and olive trees to make way for the expanding settlements. In September 2011, the Israeli Occupation Civil Administration approved the construction of a new bypass road for use by settlers and military alone, not by Palestinians. The road will be 80 meters wide and 8 km long. It will devour more than 1000 dunums of Beit Ommar agricultural land. More than 30000 trees of different types will be bulldozed and some of the landowners will lose their only source of income and the only land they have.
A further threat to agricultural production in Beit Ommar comes from the improper disposal of settlement waste. Neighboring settlements frequently release untreated sewage onto Palestinian farmland, destroying crops and contaminating the ground soil. The exposure of fertile agricultural land to untreated sewage has had devastating environmental repercussions, and has posed serious health risks to village residents.
Settler violence also provides a major obstacle to agriculture in Beit Ommar. In the Saffa district, a neighborhood in Nothern Beit Ommar, 14 settler attacks over the past 2 years have killed one farmer, left several wounded, and destroyed thousands of fruit and olive trees.