Harel Amos

Dozens of settlers yesterday attacked West Bank villagers and prevented them from picking their olives by firing guns in the air and toward the Palestinians and dozens of peace activists who had thronged to support them.

The peace activists circumvented military roadblocks to join the Palestinians from villages south and east of Nablus, who for the past two weeks have been unable to pick their olives or till their land due to settler attacks. The activists bypassed military road barriers in private vehicles and minibuses, and arrived at Aqraba village, where settlers shot dead a Palestinian picking olives last week, and the villages Dir Elhatab, A-Asawiya, Inabus and Yasouf, near the Jewish settlements Elon Moreh, Yitzhar and Itamar.

The settlers, who saw the peace activists arriving, also headed toward the olive groves, shouting at the Palestinians to get out. The armed security officers came first, then dozens of settlers driving toward the Palestinians and activists in cars and dune buggies, followed by the women and children.

Arguments soon turned to blows and the settlers fired in the air and then aimed near the Palestinians and activists to get them to flee from the area. At least in one place, near A-Asawiya, shots fired apparently by Yitzhar settlers endangered the life of both olive pickers and activists.

eace activists said the settlers were aiming and firing at them. Those who had fired were found and claimed they had coordinated the shooting with the army. IDF sources said the settlers' security officer and other armed settlers were permitted to shoot in the air in two cases in the Itamar area - if the olive pickers were close to a settlement and if they wandered outside the plot the Palestinians were allowed to work in.

At no time did the activists and Palestinians approach the settlementsborders and all the clashes took place in the Palestinian agriculturalplots.

Army troops and the area's military commanders were not prepared for the incidents and showed up at only some of them. The soldiers and policemen who did arrive were in many cases at a loss and confused. They tried in vain to separate the fighting sides and kept the Palestinians and peace activists away from the olive groves, but the violent clashes continued for several hours.

Tsali Reshef, MK (Labor) yesterday presented an urgent parliamentary question about the settlers' violence and charged that police are deliberately failing to take action against them.

The Palestinians have had difficulty getting to their plots that are nearer to the settlements. Many are also afraid of tilling land close to their villages for fear of being assaulted or even shot.

Every day there are clashes between the settlers and Palestinians, often accompanied by gunfire and physical and verbal attacks on the Arab farmers.

CSV 25 September 2003


Residency 2004

The Olive Project

Two Minutes for Peace and Justice Since the second Intifada in Palestine and Israel, the olive harvest in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been disrupted by violence.  more

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