16 October 2009
International activists accompanied farmers today to their lands on the edge of the village of Burin, close to an outpost of the illegal settlement of Mar-Bracha, south of Nablus. Farmers enjoyed a quiet two hours of harvesting before eight settlers, one of them armed, appeared on the hill above and began approaching the farmers.
The farmers alerted the Palestinian DCO who in turn called the Israeli military. Army jeeps began to arrive and three soldiers came down to meet with the farmers, paying little attention to the four settlers still moving further down the hillside. The soldiers ordered all internationals to leave the area, declaring it a closed military zone, despite having no official proof of the claim. This has become almost a daily problem for farmers and activists working in the Burin area, as the Israeli military tightens its grip on the role international groups play in assisting farmers with the olive harvest – in the most extreme case, military officials attempted to issue a 6,000 shekel fine to Burin farmers for inviting international activists to accompany them to their land.
Settlers continued to move freely through the land, well beyond the confines of the settlement (and its outpost). The military didn’t interfere, claiming the settlers were simply walking their own land and the activists had no right (or relevance) being there. Meanwhile Border Police arrived, attempting to move both farmers and activists off the land. Eventually the military agreed to permit the farmers to continue the harvest and the activists remained too. It didn’t take long for the military to retreat and, thankfully, the settlers followed in turn. The remainder of the day continued without incident.