Yesh Din: Ofra uses dogs to keep Palestinians off their own farmland

Yesh Din Ofra uses dogs

assault dog settlement 248.88 (photo credit: Dan Izenberg)
assault dog settlement 248.88
(photo credit: Dan Izenberg)
Settlers in Ofra are using attack dogs to keep Palestinians from cultivating land they own near the settlement, the human rights organization Yesh Din charged in a petition filed in the High Court of Justice earlier this week. Yesh Din attorneys Michael Sfard, Shlomi Zachary and Avisar Lev filed the petition on behalf of the head of the Silwad village council, Nael Hamad, and three village residents. According to the petitioners, the entire settlement of Ofra is built illegally on land belonging to Silwad and the nearby Palestinian village of Ein Yabrud, but the petition applies only to land allegedly seized by the settlers outside the built-up area of the settlement. According to the petition, "ring roads surrounding and fencing in hundreds of dunams of privately owned land were built around the settlement and the outposts surrounding it, and other physical obstacles, including earth embankments and fences" have also been erected. Along parts of the fence, the settlers have posted assault dogs to help keep the legitimate landowners out, the petitioners charged. Altogether, Ofra has closed off access to 3,100 dunams belonging to farmers in Silwad and Ein Yabrud, according to Yesh Din. In the past, the farmers had grown olives, figs and seasonal crops on the land. "Now it has become fallow, abandoned land which, apparently, as past experience has shown, constitutes additional land reserves for the illegal expansion of the illegal settlement," the organization charged. The Jerusalem Post sought a response from Ofra secretary Meir Nahliel, but he was not available to reply.