Some 1,650 trees have been vandalized in the past two months in the West Bank with most of the damage occurring over the last month.
Just a week ago, we saw a horrific attack by settlers on the Palestinian village of Jalud. In retaliation for the evacuation of an outpost, 400 olive trees were burned down.
Rabbis for Human Rights is happy to arrange coverage of the high-friction areas or of the Palestinian/shared Palestinian-Jewish olive harvest– a project which constitutes an effort towards “peace from the ground up,” i.e. peace of rights and respect based between peoples and not between their governments. Furthermore, we are able to arrange interviews with Palestinian farmers who have suffered from the recent wave of harassment.
A summary of the incidents of harassment towards the Palestinian olive harvest:
Palestinians report that on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 9, 2013, a combined attack on the Palestinian village of Jalud was carried out by three groups of Israeli extremists. Following the arson carried out by one of the groups, some 400 olive trees were burned in a grove belonging to the village. A second group vandalized five Palestinian cars (six according to the initial report), and a Palestinian school in the village was attacked with stones by the third group. For photos, see here
The attack came after a series of assurances from security forces, particularly from the regional brigade commanders, that security levels would be increased during the sensitive olive harvest season or in proximity to evacuation of outposts.
Additional incidents detailed in a joint letter by Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din, which was sent on October 9 to IDF regional brigade commanders in the West Bank:
1. On the morning of September 11, 2013, residents of the village of Deir al Hatab, adjacent to the settlement of Elon Moreh in Samaria, were shocked to discover that some 500 of its trees had been burned.
2. On the morning of September 20, 2013, the residents of Kafr Qaddum, located in Samaria to the west of the settlement of Kedumim and its illegal outposts, discovered that some 27 of their olive trees had been set on fire. The village residents discovered that an additional seventy trees were cut down. In total, some one hundred trees were vandalized.
3. On the morning of October 2, 2013, members of the Reba’i family, who own an olive grove located to the south of the illegal outpost of Havat Maon in the South Hebron Hills, known for the violence of its residents, discovered that a number of their olive trees had been vandalized. The family suffers from regular harassment from the residents of Havat Ma’on, who have as of now destroyed some 150 olive trees belonging to the Reba’i family. During the harvest season, this family requires additional protection for their property.
4. On the morning of October 3, 2013, members of the Shatat family, owners of an olive grove southwest of the settlement of Susya, alongside Road 317 in the South Hebron Hills, discovered that 48 of their olive trees had been cut down.
5. On the morning of October 5, 2013, members of the Fuha family, owners of an olive grove near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, discovered that some 130 of their olive trees had been vandalized.
6. On the morning of October 5, 2013, residents of Deir Sharaf, near the settlement of Shavei Shomron, discovered that some fifteen olive trees had been cut down. Furthermore, olives had been stolen from the trees.
7. Residents of the village of Jit, located east of the settlement of Kadum in Samaria, have had ninety trees vandalized recently. Some thirty trees were damaged a week ago and another sixty on October 7, 2013. Furthermore, olives had been stolen from the trees.
8. On the morning of October 10, 2013, a resident of Kafr Laqif, a village in the Qalqilya region, discovered that some eighteen of his mature olive trees, located inside the fence of the settlement of Karnei Shomron, had been cut down. This is in addition to some eighteen other olive trees belonging to village residents that were cut down on September 17, 2013 and to some seventeen olive trees belonging to village residents that were cut down on September 15. In total, some fifty olive trees have been vandalized in recent weeks.
9. On the morning of October 7, 2013, residents of the village of Ras Karkar, located adjacent to the illegal outpost of Zayit Raanan in Binyamin, discovered that eight mature olive trees had been vandalized.
10. On the morning of October 7, 2013, residents of the village of Far’ata, located near the illegal outpost Havat Gilad in Samaria, discovered that 35 olive trees had been cut down. Furthermore, they found that some 25 percent of the olives had been stolen from the trees.
It is clear that at this time, olive trees throughout the West Bank are frequently being destroyed and their olives being stolen. In the Morar case, the High Court of Justice ruled that local residents must be enabled to harvest their olives “until the last olive.” This ruling obligates protection of their property so that it will not be vandalized or stolen prior to the harvesting of also the first olive.
The many incidents detailed above emphasize that until now you (the IDF) have failed in your duty to protect property. We request the details of the actions you intend to take immediately in order to provide maximum protection for the primary source of income for many families in the West Bank.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, President of Rabbis for Human Rights stated:
This is a pogrom, no less. Just this morning we sent a warning letter, together with Yesh Din, which documents the great damage discovered in recent days. Despite all of our conversations with the IDF and the promises that we received to increase protection of Palestinian agriculture in the period leading up to and during the olive harvest season, we see the results as proving that there has not been sufficient effort. From past experience, we know that the IDF has the capabilities to stop waves of harassment from extremist settlers when there is a will to invest the necessary resources to do so, as in 2009, when the harassment by Havat Gilad was stopped when the appropriate measures were taken.
The obligation to make active efforts to protect the Palestinians is established by the High Court of Justice’s ruling on the Morar case.