Field Reports, Occupied Territories

Summary: RHR 2017 West Bank Olive Harvest

0 Comments 27 December 2017

This year, RHR successfully enabled a Palestinian landowner to harvest on their land after many years of blocked access. We documented dozens of attacks  and unlawful expulsions and enabled multiple Palestinian farmers to return to their work or secured them access to their lands. On the other hand, violence from Israeli settlers or, in some cases, inappropriate actions from the security forces, resulted in many hardships to harvesters.

Harvest in Awarta, October 10

Regarding army conduct, there was a significant improvement in the approach with the Samaria DCO (local authorities of the Israeli army in charge of contact with Palestinians) to the olive harvest, as well as serious issues with the conduct of the Ephraim DCO in regards to it.

2017 Olive Harvest in Numbers:

‣ RHR assisted 34 Palestinian villages with problems related to the harvest.

‣ We documented 24 cases where the army prevented or delayed harvest work unnecessarily and in contradiction to the army’s own procedures. This included, for example, delayed or prevented work despite prior coordination with the army.

‣ We documented 28 cases of violence, harassment or expulsion of Palestinian farmers by extremist Israelis in areas where Palestinians are permitted by the Israeli army to harvest.

‣ We documented fifteen cases of theft or damage to olives or olive trees. This was sometimes accompanied by real-time documentation of the extremists Israelis during the act.

‣ Dozens of olive trees in Palestinian groves were vandalized.

Harvest Achievements:

‣ In 26 cases, the intervention of RHR allowed the Palestinians to work, either through securing land access, or returning them to their land after being unjustly expelled.

‣ Thanks to our coordination work, Palestinian farmers from eight villages were finally able to harvest in their groves after significant periods – sometimes years – of restricted access.

‣ In ten cases, our intervention prevented or stopped attacks on Palestinian harvesters or resulted in the removal of the assailants.

‣ We brought 135 volunteers – Israelis and internationals – to harvest alongside Palestinians who needed assistance due to limited access to their lands.

‣ We halted one incursion into Palestinian land, apparently including an attempted takeover, which was identified during the olive harvest.

Notable Incidents:

‣ On October 17th, farmers from the village of Far’ata discovered olives from about 200 hundred trees near the illegal outpost Havat Gilad had been stolen. Additionally, farmers from the village of Jit reported that olives from around one hundred trees had been stolen.  According to the testimony of Palestinians in Jit, on this same day a settler appeared when they were working and instructed the army on how to treat the Palestinians and hindered them from completing their work. The army fell in line with his demands and did not permit the Palestinians to harvest all the trees. Then, in front of the soldiers, the settler harvested from the trees, taking the olives for himself.

‣ On October 22nd, farmers from Burin discovered that olives from about sixty trees had been stolen near the Givat Ronen outpost. Additionally, farmers from Murayer discovered olives had been stolen from their trees near the Adi Ad outpost. The police and the DCO came and later that same day the DCO tried to remove RHR field director Zakaria Sadah from the fields of Murayer, telling him to go home and not to interfere. An Israeli police officer collecting testimony asked the farmer why he does not sell his land to others, probably implying an impending take-over of his lands by settlers.

‣ On the same day,  the settler security officer from the illegal outpost Gidonim tried to evict Palestinian farmers from their lands outside Mitzpeh Shai (Kdumim). The farmers refused to go. The DOC came and told the famers not to come back tomorrow.

‣ On October 23, according to the reports of Palestinian farmers from Burin, five settlers attacked them with stones while they were in their grove near the entrance to the Givat Ronen illegal outpost. The incident occurred as two Israeli soldiers looked on and did not attempt to stop or prevent the attack.

 

Our Jewish & Human Rights Obligations

This data paints a contradictory picture:  On one hand, there were many successes — some after years of struggle — while at the same time, the continued, egregious violence against Palestinian farmers, destruction of agriculture, and the intransigence of the security forces all remained significant, demonstrating the critical need for significant policy change.

We know that the Torah teaches us that we are obligated to protect the property of “the other.”  This holds true even if the property is in danger due to their negligence or even in cases where the property, lost or damaged due to improper use, belongs to an “enemy” or a hated element. Thus, even for those who generally view the Palestinians as an “enemy,” damage to their property is in contradiction to Jewish values.

“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.” – Exodus 23: 4

Even in  extreme case, there is a basic morality that the Torah commands: there is a red line that must not be crossed. Acts of damaging property are contrary to the most basic principles of Judaism as well as the the principles of human rights.

All RHR posts from the 2017 olive harvest 

Additional RHR Related Olive Harvest 2017 Media Coverage:

Soldiers Stand by as Settlers Pelt Palestinians with Rocks
Times of Israel, Elior Levy & Yoav Zitun,November 17 2017

A Yawn — That’s How Most Israelis Respond to Land Theft
Haaretz, Amira Hass, November 1 2017

Settler Violence on the Rise as Olive Harvest Begins in West Bank
972 Magazine, Orly Noy, October 20 2017,

Israeli Settlers Steal Olive Harvest, Attack Palestinian Farmers in West Bank
Maan News Agency, October 15 2017

Israeli Settlers Filmed Stealing Olive Harvest of West Bank Palestinians
Haaretz, Jack Khoury, October 18 2017

WATCH: Settlers Attack Palestinian Farmers Near Radical Outpost
972 Magazine, Eli Bitan, October 11 2017

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