Report: Settler crimes and violations heightened during olive harvest season

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The Israeli Occupation and settlers’ policies continue against Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, consisting of destroying hundreds of trees, stealing crops, and preventing farmers from accessing their lands. Particularly during the olive harvest season, these crimes are heightened.

The losses of Palestinian farmers were not only limited to the scarcity of olive production for this year, rather, the season included the settlers ’crimes, which inflicted heavy losses on farmers and exhausted them with costs and efforts without any returns.

Stealing Crops 

As soon as the farmers arrived in the village of Azmout, east of Nablus, to their lands adjacent to the settlement of “Alon Moreh,” it was apparent to them that the olives they had gone to pick were stolen by the settlers.

One of the landowners in the village, farmer Muhammad Alawneh, says that the residents are prevented from accessing their lands which are close to the settlement, as they are “closed military zones”, and with the beginning of the olive season every year, the farmers receive  a circular through the civil administration that they would be allowed to pick olives on certain days only.

“As soon as we got to the land, which has dozens of olive trees, we found that the olives on a large number of trees were stolen,” he added.

Chopping Trees 

Farmer Faris Omran from the town of Deir al-Hatab, who also owns land close to “Alon Moreh” settlement, reveals that many of his olive trees have been destroyed or cut down by the settlers.

Omran mentioned that he and other landowners found that their trees were cut off when they were prevented from entering them, delaying the discovery of what he described as a “massacre” against trees that annually produced significant quantities of oil and olives.

Omran pointed out that these crimes have become a seasonal ritual that settlers use as the olive harvest approaches, in order to inflict heavy losses on farmers, to force them to leave their lands for the sake of settlement ambitions.

Wild boars 

Fadi Sawalha, a farmer from the town of Azmout, reported that young olive seedlings were being destroyed by herds of wild boars that wreak havoc on agricultural lands.

Sawalha notes that hundreds of herds of boars invaded the eastern villages after being released by settlers in recent years, and they multiplied remarkably.

The head of the village council in Deir al-Hatab village, AbdulKarim Hussein, said that “Alon Moreh” settlement, continues to expand at the expense of the lands of Deir al-Hatab and Azmout villages.

Sewage and wastewater 

Hussein also noted that farmers are prevented throughout the year from accessing their lands and are exposed from time to time to settler attacks that take place before the eyes of the occupation forces, who sometimes intervene to complete the task of attacking farmers.

Hussein said that farmers discovered that their lands were flooded with sewage water, and that they found it very difficult to harvest the olives from the trees that were flooded with the stench-smelling water.

Settlers have intensified their violations of the rights of olive pickers in their lands during the past few days, which were represented by attacking them and preventing them from accessing their lands, in addition to burning trees and cutting them in preparation for seizing them.

Settlers also take advantage of the protection and support of the occupation forces to escalate their violations against farmers and their trees, particularly during the olive harvest season, while farmers rush to pick olives to save what can be saved from their crops before they cut and burn them or steal their fruits.

In recent days, the areas and villages south of Nablus have witnessed an increase in settler attacks, most notably what the town of Asira al-Qibliya suffered from an attack by settler flocks and an attack on its farmers.

The periodic report issued by the media office of Hamas in the West Bank noted that the occupation forces committed (1575) violations of the rights of the Palestinian people and their land in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem during the month of September.

According to the report, the number of settlement activities reached (16), which varied between confiscation and leveling of lands, construction of roads, and approval of building settlement units.