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Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida Interrupted by Occupation Authorities

by ISM Hebron, October 31st

At 8:00 a.m. six internationals gathered at the home of the Palestinian family that lives directly across the street from the Tel Rumeida settlement to help the family pick its olives. Settlers had stolen olives from a family tree the night before so it was imperative to harvest the olives before the settlers could make away with the remaining olives.

The internationals were joined by three members of CPT and by three observers from the EAPPI and everyone went to a parcel of family land that is adjacent to a military outpost and is in a closed military zone.

The group picked from 9 to 11 am, then the two internationals and several family members left for a meeting. Picking continued until 12:05 when four border police invaded a house near the olive grove where another family member resides. Two CPT people followed them into the house to record what was happening. The police told the CPTers to leave but CPT refused.

Then a small group of visitors on their way to the Sabeel conference was brought to the house by a CPT member in order to observe the olive picking. The army tried to prevent them visiting the house as the road leading to it has been closed by the Israeli military.

At this point, the police, who had come to the house for a purpose we don’t know, noticed the group picking olives right next to the military outpost. They challenged the olive pickers and most exited the field to enter into discussion with the police or watch what was going on. CPT gave the high court order to the police but this did not appear to affect their objections to the olive picking. Then the internationals and family members at the community meeting were called and returned. They began filming and discussing. Phone calls were made to the DCO and the captain. At 12:20 the police officer in charge said that the army captain would come and talk to the whole group but he never came. Then at 12:40 the police officer in charge left and four border police remained including two who spoke Arabic. They said they were there to protect us but in fact they were there to prevent anyone from picking the olives.

At 1 pm, a representative from B’Tselem came and he phoned the DCO. At this point two representatives of the High Commission of the Red Cross emerged into the yard through the grape vines. They were on a regular inspection patrol and heard the commotion. After them came a representative from ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel). Finally a decision was conveyed to the police that only Palestinians could pick the olives. None of the internationals could work in the olive grove.

We then all went to the home of the Palestinian family whose olives were being picked as they had prepared lunch for us.