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Jalud Olive Harvest Stopped by Armed Settlers and the Israeli Army

The Ibrahim family of the West Bank village of Jalud, accompanied by international and Israeli Human Rights Workers (HRWs), were forcibly prevented from harvesting their land yesterday by both armed settlers and the Israeli Army. Jalud, a community of about 500 people in the district of Nablus, regularly faces harrassment from nearby settlements and settlement outposts. Of the 16,000 dunums that belonged to the village, 10,000 dunums has been illegally confiscated for settlements whilst another 2,000 has been declared a military closed zone.

At approximately 10 am, several dozens farmers, joined by around 20 international and Israeli HRWs, began to pick olives on village land to the west of an outpost from Shilo settlement. Three Israeli soldiers immediately came down from the outpost and ordered the villagers to stop their harvest. The soldiers were quickly followed by around 20 settlers, armed with handguns, machine guns and a large attack dog, who attempted to steal the farmers’ equipment along with the few olives that had already been picked.

One HRW saw a Palestinian woman roughly pushed by a settler, who then proceeded to dump everything out of the bags she was carrying. Army reinforcements soon arrived on the scene and aggressively forced the farmers into a corner of the grove. At approximately 11.30am the army threatened the farmers with teargas and rubber bullets, forcing the party to leave with only one bag of olives picked. No attempts were made by the army or police to remove the settlers from the land, despite it being declared a Closed Military Zone.

The Ibrahim family have not been able to harvest their olives since 2004. Every year Fawzi Ibrahim has sent the land ownership documents to the DCO for permission to work the land, but has received no response. He estimates that the family loses roughly $40,000 a year in olive oil production and another $50,000 in chick peas and wheat. He is now forced to rely on his 2,000 NIS a month salary from his teaching work in Hawara and can no longer afford the legal fees required to fight for his land through the Israeli courts. The last time he went to court over his land, when a settler from Shilo had harvested $20,000 worth of his wheat, the court agreed that the land was his and the settler had illegally harvested the wheat, but only awarded Fawazi Ibrahim 80 NIS in compensation, whilst sentencing the convicted settler to 140 hours community service to be completed within the settlement.