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This year’s olive harvest is carried out under severe settler-colonist assaults throughout the OPT: brutalizing the harvesters, arsons, uprooting of trees, stealing crops, flooding groves with sewage, and vandalizing hundreds of trees, usually backed up by Israeli army and police forces who at times have even participated by firing teargas and stun grenades at the attacked harvesters;
In the northern and southern Palestinian Jordan Valley and in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian shepherds are systematically chased away from their grazing grounds by outpost settler-colonists and the army forces who do their bidding; settler-colonists from “Hashmona’im” attacked a 73-year old Palestinian farmer with stones and teargas – he was wounded in his head and hospitalized; 4 Palestinians were wounded while harvesting olives at Bourqa; a Palestinian boy was shot and wounded in the neck during a protest demonstration at Qaddoum village; the Israeli army’s rampage of demolition and destruction of structures and water pipes in the Palestinian villages inside ‘firing zone 918’ continues.
photo: Palestinian and Israeli activists return from a partial olive harvest of a grove belonging to a farmer in Bourqin (the Salfit district)
The Olive Harvest
The present olive harvest has been one of the most difficult ever.
At the Palestinian village of Bourqa (Ramallah district), settler-colonists attacked with stones and clubs Palestinian harvesters and Israelis who assisted them on Monday, October 12. Israeli soldiers arriving at the site fired teargas and stun grenades at the harvesters. However, they then dispersed the settler-colonists and enabled the harvest to continue. Four Palestinians were hurt, and a car was damaged. The next day, Tuesday, at the same place, settler-colonists again attacked the farmers and activists with stones, clubs and pepper spray: four were wounded, two had to be moved for medical care. Among the ones attacked was also an Israeli TV crew who documented the assault and reported it the same evening. After Israeli soldiers arrived, the harvest was allowed to continue. On Friday, farmers and activists returned to the groves belonging to Bourqa and were once again assaulted by settler-colonists who also burnt trees. This time too, soldiers responded by firing teargas and stun grenades at the harvesters under attack.
On Tuesday, October 13, it was reported that at Ni’alin, settler-colonists from “Hashmonai’im” attacked a 73-year old Palesitnian farmer with stones and teargas. One of the farmer’s sons managed to summon help, and the assailants escaped. The attacked Palestinian was wounded in the head and hospitalized.
On Tuesday, at Bourin (Nablus district), Yesh Din researchers documented settler-colonists stealing the Palestinians’ olive crops while an Israeli soldier secured them. On Thursday it was reported once again that settler-colonists came to the same grove to continue their stealing. Activists coming to check on the olive groves near the settler-colony Har Beracha this week discovered that most of the olives had already been robbed, and it is doubtful whether any harvesting will take place.
At Jab’a (Bethlehem district), on Wednesday, vandalism against about 300 fruitful olive trees was reported, just before they were to be harvested.
On the same day, an olive grove belonging to farmers of Deir Balout (Salfit district) was flooded with sewage from a nearby settler-colony.
Volunteers of the association of Rabbis for Human Rights reported on Friday that an olive harvest on A-Zawiya land (Salfit district) – coordinated and approved by the army authorities – was stopped by the army at the bidding of the settler-colonists. The Palestinian farmers and activists who came to help them harvest the olives were ordered away from the site.
On Saturday, October 17, activists took part in an olive harvest at Deir Istiya and Bourqin (both in the Salfit district). In both cases the harvest went unhampered. At Bourqin farmers even harvested groves they had been prevented from reaching for the past 20 years.
Yesh Din reported 5 cases of Palestinian farmers being attacked as early as the first week of the olive harvest season: 4 different vandalism cases of fruitful olive tress, among them over 100 severely damaged or uprooted; an olive grove went up in flames and damages were noted to 50 tress; and at least 4 cases of stealing the olive crop before the Palestinian owners arrived to harvest their grove.
Beside the case in which a TV reporter was present at the attack, none of these cases was reported in the Israeli media.
Deir Istiya and Qaddoum
On Sunday, October 11, activists came to the Palestinian village Deir Istiya to check the state of the pool that settler-colonists from Yakir had built on privately owned Palestinian land. They found a large group of settler-colonists there who took advantage of the owner’s arrest a day earlier by Israeli police, and were rebuilding the pool they had been ordered to demolish by the Israeli court. The activists managed to stop the work, but the settler-colonists summoned the army, and the officer in charge decided to remove everyone from the site, both settler-colonists and Palestinians. The land owner, arrested with no legal grounds last Saturday, was released from custody on Tuesday. The next day he was called in for questioning at the Ariel police station where he was asked the same questions that were put to him during his ungrounded arrest on Saturday.
During a protest demonstration by the villagers of Qaddoum (Qalqiliya district) last Saturday, a Palestinian boy was shot and wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet that entered his neck.
Palestinian Jordan Valley
At Auja in the southern Palestinian Jordan Valley activists accompanied Palestinian shepherds this week on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
At the grazing grounds near settler-colony Mevo’ot Jericho, the shepherds were chased away every time they tried to approach.
Around “Omer Ranch” colony, grazing went unhampered on Sunday and Wednesday. On Monday a settler-colonist managed to chase away the shepherds in spite of the accompaniment of activists, and the next day, when the shepherds arrived without accompaniers, they were chased away by the military. On Thursday this happened again, without any kind of legal grounds or authority. Activists present witnessed phone calls during which the soldiers received their orders from the local settler-colonist. After the shepherds left, they were chased by the settler-colonist on his mini-tractor, and he caught and beat up one of the shepherds.
In the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, the shepherds report that they refrain from getting close to settler-colonies now even in areas where they used to graze unhampered in the past, and that on several occasions they were chased away from their grazing grounds by settler-colonists or by the army. At Samara this week the community returned to their dwelling tents which they had vacated during the summer months, and discovered that while they were away, tents and much equipment had been stolen.
At En Sukut, near the settler-colony Mekhola, a Palestinian shepherd was attacked by a settler-colonist on a mini-tractor who intentionally ran over a sheep and killed it. The assailant also grabbed the shepherd’s phone while the latter was trying to video the deed – and smashed it.
South Hebron Hills
On Saturday, activists accompanied shepherds near the new outpost at Umm Zaitouna, unhampered. After the grazing, a demonstration took place by Palestinian landowners and local dwellers, protesting the establishment of the outpost on their land. The Israeli army arrived, kidnapped a dominant protestor in his 60s, forced him into their vehicle, drove off quickly and then released him nearby. The soldiers summoned police in order to fine the Israeli activists for breaking the Corona-virus lockdown, but the policemen had to acknowledge the instructions now valid, allowing demonstrations to take place further from home than 1 kilometer – so no fines were distributed.
On Sunday, October 18, the occupation forces went on a confiscation and destruction rampage in the area named “firing zone 918”. At Rakiz they confiscated two tents, at Pahit they destroyed a dwelling that was built with international aid, as well as a sheep pen holding about 200 heads. On their way back, the soldiers stopped on the track between Khalat A-Dhab’a and Mufaqara, and dug the ground to discover water pipes used by the Palestinians of these villages caged inside the firing zone. One of their digs revealed an empty water pipe, and they severed it.
The weekly demonstration in Sheik Jarrah has been renewed, adhering to emergency procedures. The residents of Sheikh Jarrah are protesting their violent evictions from their homes, the taking over of the neighborhood by the settlers, and the Judaization of East Jerusalem. They call upon each and every person who supports their struggle to join them