Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, Director of Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, summarizes the 2013 RHR Olive Harvest:
The outcomes of this year’s harvest once again underscores the absolute necessity of organizing in order to ensure the rights of Palestinian farmers are upheld as they harvest their olives. In order to complete the harvest safely and without harassment, RHR organizes activists, volunteers, staff members and attorneys in coordination with the Palestinians, the IDF and additional NGOs.
Despite the effectiveness of our efforts, we do wish to emphasize that maintaining the rights and safety of Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest is the responsibility of the IDF.
As always, a number of incidents did occur. They included:
- Delays on farmers: Awarta
- Attacks on the farmers-:Burin, Mureir, Sinji (including settlers with arms who disrupted the harvest),Yasuf,
- Military drills interfering with the harvest: Qusra
- Expulsion and denial of access to lands: Kefar Qadum, Jayyous, Kariot, Nazlat ‘Isa and Deir Rassoun, Imtan, Azmut
- Logging and leveling of lands: Azun, Kuffor Laqef
- Olive theft: Aqraba, Fur’ata, Jit
- Arrests: A farmer from Sinjil was arrested
- Burnt trees: Jalud
- Vandalized cars: Jalud
- Destroyed school: Jalud
- Failure to provide sufficient days for harvest: Kariot
- Sewage poisoning trees: Al-Janiya
Full Report of Olive Harvest 2013 – Village by Village:
*Note: Certain areas within Area C require coordination with the IDF before Palestinians are allowed in them. RHR organizes this coordination via telephone as well as on the ground.
Awarta: We successfully changed a lot here. Palestinian security coordination also worked on the side of Itamar that does not required coordination (left side), and finished the work near the settlement with coordination on October 15. Out of 15 days, three or four were with coordination. There were no special problems. The army delayed the farmers for two hours, and we helped get them released.
In the Special Security Area, security was not coordinated with the claim that there was nothing to harvest. Ten-twenty volunteers came each time.
Burin: There were a lot of problems – three attacks near Yitzhar, up on the hill on the northern side. The farmers worked in places that did not need coordination for a total of about 10 days. We sent some 10-20 volunteers each time. In addition, from October 15th until November 5 (a total of 20 days), the staff escorted them without volunteers.
Jamma’in: We sent volunteers in coordination with us. There were only 3-4 work days.
Qusra: We were in constant phone contact. The week of November 5-6, the army conducted exercises in the area and did not allow the famers to harvest for two days. Other than that, there were no special difficulties.
Kfar Qadum: There were many problems. They started to work after Eid al-Adha. We coordinated participation of a Zohar group (Buddhists) for a few days. We sent approximately ten volunteers several times to harvest. Our legal team handled denial of access of farmers to their land – there were eight occurrences of the Palestinians farmers being expelled by the army and each time our legal team coordinated their return.
Hawara: One day of harvest with coordination with our assistance. We came with volunteers.
Turmus Ayya: We kept in phone contact with the farmers and there were no special problems.
Mureir: We worked there one day. The team handled one attack. Adei Ad are the suspects as the source of this evil. We worked for ten days, some with coordination.
Tell and Sara: Unlike other years, this year we did not take volunteers. Despite the towns’ proximity to the problematic Gilad Farms, the Palestinians farmers did not experience any problems.
Azun: 330 trees, aged five to eight years old, were cut down on Thursday, October 31, 2013. The trees belonged to Rafat Majed (a local farmer). The fields are near the Shavei Shomron settlement close to the main highway there.
Beit-Pourik: The farmers worked with coordination without problems.
Madma: The farmers worked underneath Yitzhar. They were no problems.
Aqraba: The team caught settlers who stole olives and the olives were returned thanks to our intervention. Other than that, the harvest went smoothly.
Issawiya: Went smoothly.
Asira al-Qibliya: There was nothing to harvest. There were no problems.
Haris: Received assistance from a different organization.
Deir Istiya: A Zohar group worked there. It was very quiet.
Sinjil: Only one day with volunteers near Adei Ad. There was security. We escorted one attack near Maaleh Levona on Thursday October 31; settlers came down from the settlement with guns. One Palestinian protested and was arrested. Near Givat Haroeh there were no problems (for a change!).
Bil’in: We went there with volunteers but on that same day there was a detention and the farmers did not set out. In any case, there were not many olives on the trees near Modi’in Ilit.
Jayyous: One the farmers were not permitted through the main gate and they had to take a long route through a different gate. We handled it, filed a complaint and the next day the gate was open.
Jalud: Fahi and the other farmers had a catastrophe this year – 400 trees were burned. There was an attack on a school on the same day. On Sunday, settlers attacked three groups and as well as cars, and a school in addition to burning trees. We got the impression of a well-planned terror attack.
Al-Janiya: Settlers attacked a car. Also, the settlers’ sewage water is poisoning the trees.
Kariot: They tried to drive out farmers and volunteers from an area that does not require coordination. We succeeded in allowing the Palestinians back. Farmer Abdel Rana did not get enough days to harvest but our legal department got him another work day. This year, the harvest was only 20% of a regular year‘s harvest.
Yinun: It was fine. We guided them by phone.
Fur’ata: 70% of the olives were stolen. A mobile home was placed in the middle of an olive grove.
Jit: Settlers stole most of the olives.
Yasuf: The Palestinian farmers worked in an area that does not require coordination. Still, settlers from Kfar Tapuah attacked. With our intervention, the farmers worked the next day without problems.
Dier Nadham and Nabi Saleh: We were not in contact with them this year.
Nazlat ‘Isa and Deir Rassoun (near Tulkarm): There were problems with the fence gates. We assisted with coordination, but there were incidents with the army: tear gas, and a long delay setting out to work.
Deir Sharaf (near Shavei Shomron): Palestinians crossed the fence with coordination, there were no problems.
Kuffor Laqef (near Karnei Shomron and Maaleh Shomron): On October 17th, when the farmers entered the land, they found destroyed trees.
Imtan: They harvested despite army attempts to drive them away. Settlers attacked but with our intervention, the farmers went back to work the next day.
Azmut: The farmers went up to harvest near Elon Moreh. All was calm until the army delayed a 60-year old man claiming that he was sought by the Shin Bet. He was released with our intervention after two hours.
Salem: They worked without problems.
Khirbet Musrarah: We worked one day, primarily as a presence outside of the Closed Military Zone (Yesh Din is handling this case).
IMAGE: Burning olive trees at Jalud
Despite the harm to our people this season and the publicity of the incidents, we believe there was less violence against harvesters this year. Unfortunately, damage to property significantly increased as approximately two thousand trees were damaged. Despite contact with the IDF prior to the harvest, we did not see meaningful action on their part to prevent this.
Recorded by Rabbi Yehiel Greiniman, according to Zakaria Sade’s field report.
We thank the many volunteers who helped this year as well as our dedicated staff.