The Olives of Beit Furiq
On Saturday 28 October IWPS and ISM joined farmers from the Palestinian village Beit Furiq who were picking olives near the settler road leading to the nearby Itamar illegal settlement.
This Orthodox settlement is known for its history of violent attacks on local Palestinians, whose land they usurped, resulting in numerous fatalities and injuries.
An additional reason for us joining the Beit Furiq farmers was a settler attack two days before (on 26 October) on the Palestinian olive pickers in the nearby village of Deir al-Hatab where dozens of settlers from the illegal settlement of Alon Moreh, built on land expropriated from the village, attacked landowners and their families as they were picking olives near the settlement. Three farmers were injured including a woman.
We harvested in a beautiful location with the view over the rolling West Bank hills and Nablus.
Also, down below from the olive fields we could see an Israeli military tower and a checkpoint. The farmers told us that no Palestinian walking by that road would survive long and that recently a young Beit Furiq man was shot dead for being in that location.
The farmers told us about the land they own near the top of the hill where the Itamar settlement is, which was taken from them and which they have no access to.
They also recalled the history of bloody violence against them and their neighbours by both illegal settlers and the occupation army. A quick Google search results in a long list of agregous crimes against the Palestinians.
• 26 October 1998 – Muhammad Suliman Az-Zalmut, a 70-year-old Palestinian farmer, was bludgeoned to death with a 20-pound rock in an unprovoked attack by a 26-year-old Itamar settler and yeshiva student who was under an expulsion order from the Israeli military after being involved in several violent incidents with Palestinian farmers.
• 7 October 2001 An Itamar settler went to the Palestinian orchards of Aqraba and opened fire at farmers, killing one Palestinian and wounding two others.
• 17 October 2001 – Farid Musa Issa Nasasrah from Beit Furik was murdered, and three other Palestinians villagers wounded, near Itamar by settlers. Two Itamar residents arrested on suspicion for the shooting, were released for insufficient evidence after five days.6 October 2002 – during the olive harvesting, Hani Bani Maniya, together with his cousin Fouad, from Aqraba was shot by settlers after running to the assistance of Fadi Beni Jabar who had been shot in the hand. Maniya died of gunshot wounds shortly afterwards, outside of Nablus where the ambulance had been stopped at an Israeli roadblock.
• 27 September 2004 – Itamar resident shot and killed Sa’il Mustafa Ahmad Jabarah, a Palestinian taxi driver from the nearby Salem village. Police initially concluded the shooting was in self-defence. The perpetrator was convicted of manslaughter and then released to house arrest. He disappeared after not showing up in court for his verdict.
• 20 March 2010 – two Awarta teenagers, the cousins Salah Qawariq, 18, and Muhammad Qawariq, 19, were shot dead, while on their way to their farmland, in unclear circumstances, a day after two others from nearby villages had been shot dead during a confrontation with the Israeli army. The Israeli army said it was responsible, while Palestinian sources claimed Itamar settlers had attacked the boys, or that their deaths had been caused by a settler militia from Itamar. An Israeli army spokeswoman initially replied that the two had tried to stab a soldier on patrol. In a later version, the army took full responsibility, announcing that the deaths were unnecessary and could have been avoided. Autopsies indicated they had been shot at close range, with some of the bullet trajectories suggesting they had been killed while seated or kneeling.