Pictures of Israeli border police targetting tomatoes in several Palestinian fields in Al Beqa’a Valley just east of Hebron, and directly affecting the livelihood of more than one hundred Palestinians, are now being circulated to thousands around the world report Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
Landowners said that Israeli border police and the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO), responsible for the coordination of Palestinian civilian affairs in Area C, began implementing the destruction at around 8:30 a.m on 6 July 2010.
Israeli authorities, with the assistance of hired labour, damaged fields of vegetables and destroyed the irrigation systems of those fields.
When Christian Peacemaker Team members arrived in the area at 11:30 am, about 20 workers hired by the Israeli border police and DCO, had cut and disposed of the irrigation pipes laid in two fields.
The fields each measured ten dunams (approximately 40 acres) and included tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, and beans.
In addition to dismantling the irrigation pipes, the workers also cut the twines that were holding up each tomato plant.
A matriarch of the family, Aratiki Karim, said: "These tomatoes are for the kids, for the babies, to feed the kids and to sell them to buy other food for the kids." The Palestinian farmers had planted the tomato plants nearly three months ago and the tomatoes were only twenty days from being ready for market.
The border police, DCO, and hired labourers then moved to another field further along Route 60 in the Al Beqa’a Valley to perform the same procedure. The border police blocked the junction between the residential zone and the nearby fields, shooting tear gas and sound bombs to prevent Palestinians from going to the area where the hired workers were removing more irrigation pipes. Several women and children suffered from tear gas inhalation and required hospitalisation.
Badran Mohammed Jabber, looking out onto his destroyed fields said in exasperation. "I have spent 43 years under the Israeli reign of terror. I have lived my life in fear, I never know what the Israelis will do tomorrow. They have destroyed my land, they have destroyed my life; these fields are my life."
The 6 July incident is not the first time Israeli authorities have destroyed crops and irrigation equipment in the Al Beqa’a Valley.