Palestinians are bracing themselves for settler assaults on their land as the olive harvesting season kicks into high gear.
Palestinian farmers, civil society, local and international volunteers, as well as video have documented Israeli settlers uprooting olive trees, stealing olive crops, and starting fires on nearby land.
Palestine: Israel settlers uproot 900 olive trees in Palestinian farms https://t.co/wW889n0W3n— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) October 14, 2021
Anees Sweidan, deputy mayor of Nablus, told Arab News that every year at this time settlers invaded the governorate of Nablus and stole ripe olives, cut down trees and burned them.
Sweidan said that Nablus municipality had paved parts of the road connecting areas to the east of the city with the village of Assera Al-Shamieh to help Palestinians protect their land from settler assaults.
He called on the international community to provide protection to Palestinians from settlers who attacked them and also to the international volunteers who came to help during the short but intense harvest season.
In 2019, the Palestinian governorates of Jenin, Tubas and Northern Valleys produced the highest quantity of olive oil, followed by Tulkarm and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics https://t.co/QDCCo2M2XC pic.twitter.com/SH9QY3KB4W— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 16, 2021
The biggest danger was always on Palestinian land closest to illegal Israeli settlements, he added.
Atallah Hanna, bishop of Sebastia, said God did not justify the injustice that was affecting people’s holy places and even olive trees.
“Olive trees are a symbol of peace in Palestine. They are also a symbol of our heritage in this holy land,” he told Arab News. “Jewish settlers might steal and burn, our Palestinian people will stand and we as Christians stand with justice and the case of justice of our Palestinian people.”
Israeli media reported that Defense Minister Benny Gantz had ordered the army to act “systemically, aggressively and uncompromisingly — together with the Shin Bet security service and the police — against all forms of violence, against Palestinians, Jews and of course against security forces.”
But Knesset member Sami Abu Shehadeh questioned the Israeli will as, he said, settler attacks against Palestinians were supported by the government and the army.
“If there was no political and military support for those racist individuals these attacks would not have continued all this period. This protection is a green light enabling the continuation and the escalation of these barbaric attacks by Jewish settlers,” he told Arab News.
The harvest season has only just begun, and already we have documented 11 cases in which settlers attacked Palestinian families who came to harvest their trees, cut down and uprooted about 300 olive trees, harvested Palestinian-owned olive trees and stole equipment.> pic.twitter.com/Cuc1D0hYPx— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) October 14, 2021
The National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements has launched a “Protectors of the Land” campaign, while the Agricultural Relief Committee has launched its annual volunteer campaign with a slogan aimed at helping farmers harvest olives in areas threatened by settlement.
Palestinians plant around 10,000 olive trees in the West Bank each year, most of which are oil-producing varieties.
According to UN monitors, more than 4,000 olive trees and other tree crops were burned or removed by Israeli settlers in 2020.
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