Days of Palestine – West Bank
The high level of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians reported during the last week as the annual olive harvest began.
Days of Palestine has documented six incidents attributed to Israeli settlers that have resulted in Palestinian casualties (6 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (5 incidents).
Israeli settlers Thursday damaged dozens of olive saplings to the east of Yatta town, south of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, according to local sources.
Fouad al-Amur, a local activist, confirmed that a group of settlers damaged and uprooted dozens of olive saplings which were planted by Jabr Awad, a farmer, in his plot of land, located to the east of Yatta, in a clear attempt to seize it together with larger surrounding area in favor of colonial settlement expansion.
The settlers came from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Yair.
The crimes of Israeli settlers continue on daily basis against the Palestinian civilians and properties.
Israeli settlers Wednesday torched an olive grove belonging to Deir Ballut town, west of Salfit. The town mayor Yahya Mustafa said that a group of settlers set fire to 50 olive trees, located to the east of the town, and identified the landlords as Yousef, Mustafa and Sbeih Abdul-Ilah.
Located 15 kilometers to the west of Salfit city, Deir Ballut has a population of some 4,100 and occupied a total area of 11,900 dunams. It boasts several archeological sites dating back to the Byzantine era, such as St. Simeon Monastery and al-Qal‘a Monastery.
Before 1948, the village owned 40,000 dunums of land (10,000 acres). In 1967, 20% of the land of DeirBallut (or 2,000 acres) was confiscated into Israel. Since then, like so many other villages in Palestine, Deir Ballut has been subjected to almost continual land theft for Israeli settlements, bypass roads, and military installations.
On Wednesday, three Palestinians were injured after Israeli settlers assaulted olive harvesters in the groves of Huwara town, south of Nablus, according to a local source.
Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that a number of settlers attacked Palestinian farmers as they were picking their olive trees, inflicting injuries and bruises on three of them.
He added that this was the third settler attack against Palestinian olive harvesters in the last 24 hours in Nablus.
The settlers came from Yitzhar, a colonial settlement notorious for its hardcore religious community.
Israeli settlers on Tuesday assaulted Palestinian shepherds to the east of Yatta town, in the south of the occupied West Bank, according to a local activist.
Member of local popular committees, Rateb al-Jbour, said a group of settlers, under military protection, attacked Palestinian shepherds while herding their sheep in the open pastures claiming the area was a “state land”.
The settlers entered into a scuffle with the herders, who attempted to defend their right to access the pastures. No injuries were reported though.
Israeli settlers on Tuesday evening installed mobile homes and an animal barn in Beit Dajan to the east of Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, which is usually a prelude to building a new illegal settlement, according to a local activist.
Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, said that for the last few days, the northeastern part of Beit Dajan lands has been witnessing sweeping operations and the paving of roads, starting from the outskirts of the illegal Israeli settlement of Hamra, in the Jordan Valley, all the way to Beit Dajan.
He warned of Israel’s intentions to take over more land for the benefit of building a new settlement outpost in the area.
According to local sources, settlers on Tuesday extended water lines to supply the new outpost with water from the Alon Moriah illegal Israeli settlement near the village, in addition to constructing a several kilometers long road, which caused damages and the confiscation of hundreds of dunums of Palestinian residents’ lands.
With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45% of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families.
According to UN OCHA, the olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families and accounts for a quarter of the gross agricultural income of the occupied territories.
But, as local NGO MIFTAH notes, “olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any other trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land.”
“Because the trees are drought-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.”