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B’Tselem: Settlers harass Palestinians and steal crops during olive harvest in the West Bank


20 October 2009

The video shows three events that took place during this year’s olive harvest in the West Bank .

In the first incident, documented on 15 October by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera distribution project, settlers are seen stealing olives from a grove belonging to a resident of al-Mughair village in Ramallah District, near which the Adey Ad illegal outpost has been established. The footage shows two settlers picking the olives and dragging filled sacks to a car. While filming the incident, the volunteer notified the authorities. Half an hour later, soldiers and personnel from the Israeli DCL arrived at the site and arrested the settlers. On 26 October, the investigation file was transferred to the legal division in the Judea and Samaria (SHAI) Police Department, which will decide, based on the evidence, whether to file an indictment.

The second incident also occurred in al-Mughair and was filmed by one of B’Tselem’s field researchers. Several days after the complaint was filed regarding the stolen olives, village residents discovered that several dozens of olive trees had been cut in their groves. Residents of other villages in the West Bank also reported olive trees that had been cut or uprooted.

In the third incident, which took place on 19 October in Sinjil, Ramallah District, one of B’Tselem’s field workers filmed settlers harassing olive pickers although soldiers were present. According to the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), residents of the village were also attacked by several dozens of settlers as they attempted to harvest olives. Army forces that were in the area removed the settlers and enabled the Palestinians to proceed with the harvest.

Information gathered so far about this year’s harvest indicates that the harvest has been relatively limited in scope, due to the meager crops, and that less harassment of Palestinians by settlers has been reported than in previous years. However, reports have been received of olive trees being cut or uprooted in several areas in the West Bank . In addition, during 2009, the conditions for receiving permits to cross through Separation Barrier have been made more stringent, increasing the difficulty faced by Palestinians who are separated from their land by the Barrier.