Planting in Burin
Tu B’Shvat tree planting in Burin which ended in disaster.
This morning we joined the olive harvest coalition and the rabbis to plant olive trees in the Burin field belonging to Bashir and his family.
The field is located on Burin’s northeastern outskirts, below the Giv’at Ronen outpost, on the way to Nablus. It has been abandoned for five years in the wake of harassment and damage by settlers.
We were in a good mood. The Palestinians instructed us how and where to plant the seedlings, some of which we had donated. They taught us how to tie the upper branch to the support reed, with colored ribbons like those on birthday presents.
We finished planting and noticed figures dressed in black on the Giv’at Ronen ridge. We discussed whether to approach and talk to them (as two of the rabbis had suggested). The Palestinian said not to talk to them; he insisted we leave.
At that moment the figures in black flowed down the hill, their number growing. Rocks were thrown at us, some of the attackers had staves and we heard an explosion. One of them poured gasoline on the Israeli vehicle parked at the edge of the field and it began to burn.
I was on my way out of the area, looked back and saw a settler beating with a stave a woman who kept turning to escape the blows. I had previously identified her as a photographer with sophisticated photographic equipment. That terrible image has marked that morning for me.
Shouts and rocks flew through the air at us and at our vehicles parked off the side. Dvorka’s windshield was shattered. Others were injured.
Everything happened quickly. Neither the army nor the police showed up.
Two fire engines from Burin, sirens blaring, arrived.
Later an ambulance came to treat the injured and transfer them to the Red Crescent facility in Huwwara. Two of those with head injuries were transferred to Beilinson Hospital.
Dvorka and her husband drove to the Ariel police station to file a complaint.
Throughout the events I saw no soldier or police officer.
As I said above, only the fire engines and ambulance from Burin provided aid.
The incident made manifest the degree to which Palestinians who make a living from their land in the area are helpless and vulnerable to attack. And in this case, Israelis as well.
I wondered afterward whether our demonstrative Tu B’Shvat did any good, or whether we simply sowed seeds of hate so that the following night, Shabbat kodesh the new seedlings, tied with birthday ribbons to support reeds, will be uprooted.
This ground is so unyielding.
We stopped at the Baklava of our friend Mazen who was happy to see us. Mazen invited us to the shiny new store up the street.