Fresco in Monastery of St George
Israeli settlers yesterday destroyed trees and vines and opened an unpaved road in private Palestinian land in al-Khader, an ancient town south of Bethlehem, according to a local reporter.
Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the popular committee against settlements in al-Khader, said Palestinian farmers arrived on their land on Monday morning to find that Israeli settlers had opened an unpaved road and dug a 30-metre escarpment, destroying trees and around 50 grape vines in the properties.
The settlers opened the road to reach another plot of land, which was illegally seized several years ago, in preparation to build a settlement outpost in the area, said Salah, adding that settlers already started infrastructure construction of the intended outpost.
Salah has appealed to human rights organizations to protect farmers from the settlers’ ruthless attacks before the harvest.
The site of al-Khader was first inhabited by the Canaanites. In 1953, five arrowheads of javelins dating from the 11th century BC, were discovered in al-Khader with Canaanite inscriptions. The translations were "dart of 'Abd Labi't".
Al-Khader is named after Saint George who in Arab culture is al-Khadr. According to local tradition, Saint George was imprisoned in al-Khader where the current Monastery of St George stands. The chains holding him were relics that were said to hold healing power.
Since the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier around al-Khader, several thousand dunams of farmland have been separated from the village, with the inhabitants unable to access them without a permit. In 2006, 50 villagers protested the barrier by filling bags with grapes and selling them along Route 60. Israeli soldiers and police attempted to quell protesters resulting in the injuries and detainment of two residents.