On Wednesday, the 8th of February, 45 international participants at the Olive Planting Program, planned to plant 400 sponsored olive trees in the field of Issa Salah in Al-Khader village, south of the Bethlehem area. The field is located in area "C" very close to an Israeli illegal outpost that was expanding. Issa owns this land, that is around 20,000 m2 and he has the official documents proving this ownership.
When around 300 trees were planted, Israeli occupation forces showed up, asked the participants to stop planting and to leave the field. They threatened to arrest the farmer if they do not! The participants left.
On the following day, Issa and his family went to the field to find no single tree was left in the ground. All the trees were stolen with the support sticks and plastic covers provided by the JAI Olive Tree Campaign. It was clear for the family that settlers did so, but they could not provide an evidence to the Israeli police they reported to, although they know that it would be useless even with such evidence.
The Israeli army then declared this land as a closed military area, prevented the family from reaching the place, until the Israeli court give a decision related to the incident and land ownership.
The Planting Program participants were reported about the incident, and the JAI re-affirmed its position with the support of its international partners, friends, and solidarity groups to keep supporting the Palestinian farmers with olive trees to help them maintain the land, save it and Keep Hope Alive.