Settler assaults wreak havoc on Palestinians throughout olive harvest

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Israeli settlers have dedicated violent, every day assaults towards Palestinian villages and residents harvesting their olive timber over the previous week.

The assaults, which embody beatings of farmers and destruction of timber, preceded the formal begin of the olive harvest season on October 12 within the occupied West Bank, however intensified in quantity over the previous week.

The most focused areas have been within the northern occupied West Bank, round villages south of Nablus metropolis and Salfit, based on locals observers.

Ghassan Daghlas, who screens settler violence within the northern West Bank, advised Al Jazeera they recorded 58 assaults for the reason that begin of the season, together with 9 on the village of Burin south of Nablus alone.

“It is evident that there is an increase in the attacks. We are 30 percent into the olive harvest season, and we have already had 58 attacks in the north [of the West Bank],” stated Daghlas, describing the assaults as “planned and not spontaneous”.

Harvesting olive timber is a key financial, familial and social exercise for a lot of Palestinians, who take days off work to are inclined to their lands, or these of their family members, neighbors or buddies. Between 80,000 to 100,000 households depend on olives and olive oil as main or secondary sources of earnings.

While settler assaults are a frequent, near-daily actuality for Palestinian villages, the quantity and intensify of assaults improve through the olive harvest season which runs by means of November, as settlers goal households engaged on their lands.

On October 12, settlers uprooted 900 olive and apricot saplings, and stole olive crops within the village of Sebastia, north of Nablus. Another 70 olive timber have been destroyed in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron.

In Awarta, east of Nablus, settlers chopped down dozens of olive timber on October 13 and sprayed them with chemical compounds. They additionally destroyed some 70 olive, fruit and vegetable timber in al-Tuwani south of Hebron, and slashed tyres, and vandalised automobiles and partitions within the village of Marda near Salfit.

A Palestinian man inspects his olive tree that was reduce by Israelis near Tubas within the occupied West Bank [File: Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

‘Attacks began early’

On October 14, settlers reduce down greater than 80 olive timber within the village of al-Mughayyer, north of Ramallah.

The subsequent day, they attacked the Hammoudeh household within the village of Yasuf near Salfit with rocks, injuring 4. The household and different residents have been attacked once more on October 16. Settlers additionally beat residents of Burin near Nablus that day with batons, and set olive groves ablaze, injuring not less than 12 Palestinians.

Daghlas stated whereas in earlier years “the attacks would begin a week after the start of the olive harvest”, this 12 months, “the attacks began early”, which pressured Palestinians to are inclined to their timber faster than anticipated.

Since the tip of August 2021, settlers have injured not less than 22 Palestinians, and ruined not less than 1,800 Palestinian-owned timber, together with 900 timber in Sebastia (Nablus) and 650 in Jamma’in (Nablus) and al-Taybe (Hebron).

Daghlas identified that along with the burning and chopping down of timber, the assaults included stealing olive crops, chasing down farmers and pushing them off their lands, in addition to threatening them and drowning elements of their lands with the sewage water.

“The settlers, and the army, are chasing us down over our livelihoods, our income, our bread, our sustenance,” stated Daghlas.

Palestinians say Israeli settlers fairly often include military safety and are many instances armed, which rights teams have documented. At instances, the settlers and the military work collectively.

The strategic constructing of settlements on hilltops within the West Bank makes it simple for settlers to descend onto the Palestinian villages and their lands beneath. Additionally, settlers get pleasure from what the United Nations has referred to as “institutional and systematic impunity”, which permits them to proceed committing assaults.

The UN described the assaults as being “ideologically motivated and primarily designed to take over land but also to intimidate and terrorize Palestinians”.

According to the newest replace by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), settlers carried out 20 assaults between September 21 and October 4 – a noticeable improve with the beginning of the olive harvest.

Between September 7 and 20, there have been 11 assaults, whereas six have been recorded between August 24 and September 6.

The largest current assault got here on September 28. A big group of masked settlers descended on to the south Hebron village of al-Mufagara and attacked residents with stones, injuring 29 Palestinians together with a three-year-old boy who suffered fractures to his cranium and was hospitalised.

Settlers additionally broken 10 properties, 14 automobiles, a number of photo voltaic panels and water tanks, and killed 5 sheep, based on OCHA.

In a assertion on October 12, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated its information confirmed that over the interval of 1 12 months, between August 2021 and 2021, greater than 9,300 timber have been destroyed within the West Bank, and referred to as for the safety of Palestinian farmers.

The ICRC additionally stated it has “observed a seasonal peak in violence by Israeli settlers residing in certain settlements and outposts in the West Bank towards Palestinian farmers and their property in the period leading up to the olive harvest season, as well as during the harvest season itself”.

“Farmers also experience acts of harassment and violence that aim at preventing a successful harvest, not to mention the destruction of farming equipment, or the uprooting and burning of olive trees,” stated Els Debuf, head of the ICRC’s mission in Jerusalem.

INTERACTIVE- 3 Olive harvest control(Al Jazeera)

‘Not an army’

Mohammad al-Khatib is an activist and founding father of Faz’a, a volunteer coalition shaped final 12 months to guard and assist Palestinian farmers, and which now brings collectively not less than 500 volunteers.

The coalition, together with different campaigns, makes an attempt to guard Palestinians engaged on their fields by bringing teams of volunteers to assist out and be current on the land, in hope of deterring the settlers.

Khatib was assaulted and arrested in earlier days throughout his presence in villages round Nablus and Salfit.

“We are not an army or security cells. We work in difficult security conditions where you cannot use any means of protection,” Khatib advised Al Jazeera.

“For example, we are not allowed to use pepper spray, or any kind of tool, for self-defence, while the settlers attack us with weapons, under army protection, with knives, sticks, pepper spray, and they hurl rocks at us,” continued Khatib.

He described the settlers as “terrorists supported by the state and the army” with the “aim of preventing Palestinians from remaining on their lands and eventually displacing them”.

Khatib stated he believes settler assaults are “systematically increasing every year”.

Expanding settlements

Nafez Hammoudeh and his household from the village of Yasuf near Salfit have been attacked two days in a row and prevented from harvesting their olives.

“On Friday it was the settlers and on Saturday it was the army,” Hammoudeh stated.

He advised Al Jazeera on Friday, settlers beat his relative with rocks on her head and sprayed her within the face with pepper spray. They additionally attacked her son and her husband, and stole sacks stuffed with olives, in addition to the ladder, and cellphones.

On Saturday, the military got here together with settlers, and assaulted them whereas attempting to take away them off their lands.

“We were barely there for an hour on both days before we were kicked out,” stated Hammoudeh. “They did not give us any reason – we told them we are the owners of the land, but to no avail. It’s just a show of force.”

So far in 2021, OCHA recorded 101 assaults by settlers that resulted in Palestinian casualties, and 264 assaults that resulted in property harm. The numbers have already surpassed final 12 months’s, which ended with 274 assaults on property, and 84 casualties.

Daghlas attributed the rise in settler assaults to the continuing growth of Israel’s unlawful settlements within the West Bank and encroachment onto Palestinian villages.

He stated for instance, up to now, the settlement of Yitzhar south of Nablus, was going through the village of Burin. Now, the settlement has expanded over to the close by villages of Madama, Urif, Einabus and Huwara.

Similarly, the settlement of Itamar as soon as stood reverse to the village of Awarta south of Nablus, whereas now it has prolonged to Beit Furik and Aqraba, he stated.

“In the past, we would focus on the villages near the settlements, but now the entire West Bank is near settlements,” stated Daghlas, explaining “the more the settlements grow, the more land comes under threat”.

He stated whereas he sees a “persistence” by the Palestinian individuals “to confront [the army and settlers] and remain on their lands”, the settler assaults are “a form of pressure”.

“The settlers are only growing in numbers, and this terrorism is only growing. The people will explode one day, and the world will bear responsibility,” stated Daghlas.

“If the Palestinian people lose hope, they will rise up, and there is not one power in the world that will be able to deter them.”

INTERACTIVE- 1 Olive harvest industry(Al Jazeera)