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Burin: Zionist soldiers and colonists collaborate against harvesting

by Alistair George

17 October 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

The Israeli military conducted arrests, mistreated detainees and continued to prevent villagers from picking olives in certain areas of Burin, near Nablus, yesterday on October 16 2011.  International activists have been prevented by the military from attending olive harvests during the past two days in some areas and settlers harassed and threw stones at villagers picking olives in Burin today.

Two villagers from Burin were detained yesterday whilst picking olives.  Hussain Hamed Najjar, 21, was arrested yesterday morning by the Israeli military and is currently being held in Ariel, an Israeli settlement.  His family claim that he has been accused of throwing a stone at an Israeli settler around three years ago – a charge that Najjar strongly denies.

A group of around 10 settlers from the nearby settlement of Bracha entered the Palestinian land yesterday morning and attempted to harass olive harvesters, under the watch of the Israeli military, by taking photographs of them.   Najjar was reportedly arrested for pushing a settler’s camera away, causing it to fall on the ground.

Najjar’s uncle, Akram Ibrahim Ali Imran, expressed concern for his nephew and insisted that he was innocent of any wrongdoing; “I can’t describe how worried I am, particularly about his family.”  Najjar dropped out of university in order to earn money to support his family after his father was imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority and is financially responsible for 9 people.

Bashir Imran, also 21, was detained by the Israeli military in the same area at the same time for unknown reasons.  He was handcuffed, hooded and left in the sun for at least six hours before being released.  He was only allowed water during this time and was intermittently kicked, punched and slapped by Israeli soldiers.

The arrests occurred after the Israeli military had ordered international activists to leave the area yesterday.  ‘Maggie,’ a volunteer with the Friends of Madama and Burin group, said that the Israeli military had threatened to prevent villagers from harvesting olives in that area unless the international volunteers left.   She also reported that the military allowed around 10 Israeli settlers to remain in the area.  The international group was prevented from being present in the same area again today.

According to Mahmoud, a farmer from Burin, around 20 settlers arrived in the area again today and took pictures of olive farmers, although the Israeli military did instruct them to return to their settlement.

However, a group of around seven settlers from Bracha settlement hid amongst the trees and threw stones at villagers picking olives in an area further down the mountain at around 10am this morning.  No one was injured and no further attacks were reported today.

Alistair George is an activist with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).