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Nablus farmers denied entry to farm

20 October 2010 | International Solidarity Movement

Today a family in the village of Salim, southeast of Nablus, was prevented from harvesting their olives for a second time this year. All of their trees are located behind a settlers´ road leading to the illegal settlement of Elon More: a settlement which has stolen much of the village’s land.

As the family and three internationals approached the settlers´ road, closed by a military ga te, about 10 soldiers stood waiting for them. These soldiers said it would not be possible for the family to go onto their land because the army did not have enough forces to stay in the field with them. Internationals suggested that the soldiers present remain to ensure their safety, but instead soldiers wasted 45 minutes asserting that this wasn’t possible.

During this time, another jeep with five soldiers arrived, but the army maintained that there were not enough forces available, due to a “special operation”. Several times it was stated by the army that the commander of the unit, who was not available, had decided that the farmers could not harvest today, but “maybe tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow”.

The farmers said that this same thing happened on their last harvest last date. They had then received an oral guarantee that the army would be able to prevent settlers from attacking today, the 20th of October. Today’s lapse in commitment frustrated the family as they had prepared themselves to harvest, taking the day off from work and packing for a day in the fields. The same situation may present itself again – the Israeli DCO (District Coordination Office) will call and promise to have soldiers in the field, then deny them entry to their land after a change of plans.

Palestinian farmers who have had land stolen by illegal settlement construction still have to harvest from any trees they have left close to settlements. Many farmers depend on the army to be present, hoping that they will prevent settlers from carrying out attacks on them. The Israeli DCO issue special dates when the army will be present, but often the dates change at the last minute, giving the Palestinian families no other option than to turn around and go home. As a result, settlers are able to steal the olives before Palestinians can enter their own land.