Karmei Tzur
Karmei Tzur Israel news photo: Hagai Huberman

‘September 20” came two weeks early Saturday, when Arabs set fire to an olive orchard at Karmei Tzur in Judea, located between Gush Etzion and Hevron-Kiryat Arba.

Karmei Tsur, literally "Stalwart Vineyards", is home to 125 families, and is part of the Gush Etzion Regional Authority. The word kerem (possessive Karmei) is used in Hebrew to denote both olive groves and vineyards, which surround the area from Biblical times.

Residents fear the arson is a harbinger of worse events when the Arab League presents its request to the United Nations General Assembly for recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a new country within Israel’s borders.

Arabs exploited the Jewish Sabbath morning, when most Karmei Tzur residents were praying in synagogue, to torch the one-acre orchard belonging to a farmer in the community. He planted it three years ago on “no-man’s land,” Karmei Tzur’s administrator told Arutz Sheva.

Community residents said the Arabs arrived in four vehicles from Highway 60, the main road connecting Jerusalem with Gush Etzion, Hevron-Kiryat Arab and communities north of Be’er Sheva. It is known as the Patriarch's way, as it is the only passable route between the hills since ancient times.

The army inexplicably delayed its response, and soldiers were not able to find and arrest the arsonists.

Ten anarchists also arrived in several vehicles and tried to damage other Jewish farms, but soldiers dispersed them and prevented a clash with Karmei Tzur residents.

Spokesmen for Karmei Tzur said they spoke with the Gush Etzion brigade commander on the Sabbath, noting the gravity of the attack.