On the early morning of August 20, 2016 the Israeli settlers from Bitar Eliet settlement opened the sewage water on the fields of the Palestinian farmers in Hussan village which is located west of Bethlehem. More than 40 dunums (1 dunum = 1000 m2) of cultivated lands was affected by the sewage water damage. These fields were owned by 12 families from Hussan.
Wadi Qudis is a valley about 500 dunums located in the middle of Bitar Elit Settlement because the settlement was built on the lands of Hussan village in the late 80s. Until this moment the farmers of the village are able to reach their lands and cultivate them despite all the daily harassments they face which include physical attacks from the settlers, burning of their crops, preventing them access to their land and now flooding the fields with sewage water.
Access to their fields has always been limited. The farmers can reach their fields only using donkeys and horses because they must cross the main gate of the settlement every day. Only family members who have their names on the land’ ownership documents can cross and work in their fields, other members and Palestinians are not allowed. The valley used to be one of the most fertile lands in the area because it has more than 10 springs. The farmers used to depend on those springs for watering their trees. Currently most of the springs do not have enough water because of the ongoing settlement expansion and new restricted bypass roads. The farmers are worried that they will not have enough water for their fields.
During the last 4 months, the Israeli settlers have opened the sewage water on the lands twice. The main crops are olive trees, grapes and figs.
Mohammad Hamamra is one of the clients of the Olive Tree Campaign, where in 2013 he received 60 sponsored olive trees to be planted in this high risk area. This last dumping of toxic sewage water has affected his trees and he is worried he will not be able to harvest his fruits or olives this season.
Mohammad and the other farmers who own lands in this valley informed the JAI about this systematic violation to put pressure on them to abandon their lands so it can be taken under Israeli absentee laws. The farmers told us they will try and restore the trees they can despite the probable loss for this harvest season. Some of the farmers reported this attack on their trees to The Israeli police, but the police did nothing while the sewage flooding lasted for one week. The sewage water reached 40 cm height.