Yitzhar Settlers Attack Urif Olive Harvesters
IWPS in Palestine 2017
Urif is a Palestinian village located 13 kilometres south of Nablus.
Urif has the bad luck to have an unwanted neighbour; the Yitzhar illegal settlement, with radicalized Jewish Orthodox residents known for their brutality toward all Palestinians.
Olive harvest season is known to be the most violent time of the year in Palestine and Urif farmers have year after year, been at the receiving end of the harassment and attacks by the illegal settlers, often protected by the Occupation soldiers and police. For those reasons IWPS has prioritised its support for Urif and we have witnessed and reported on their struggle to maintain access to their land and harvest their olives (see here http://iwps.info/2015/10/
Not surprisingly, this year’s harvest has started with a settler attack and with the army cutting short the picking time because of the fear of another settler attack. Vast majority of farmers whose olives are in the valley below the settlement and on the slopes leading to it, need to get a permit to harvest.
The permits are issued by the Israeli occupation army and they are issued for specific dates. The time given is almost without exception much shorter than the time needed to complete the harvest. This year Urif permits were issued three days only starting from yesterday, Wednesday, 8 November.
Three of us joined about 10 families picking near the settlement. A couple of hours after we started we saw several man and women running up the hill towards a group of olive threes. A farmer told us that those trees were burned by the settlers several years ago but have grown back and were picked by his neighbours Tayseer Mahmoud Sabah and his wife. Palestinians were running to Tayseer and his wife because they were attacked by the illegal settlers while harvesting. Both of them were hit on the head and the woman had injuries on her arm too. This happened at around 11 o’clock
Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance arrived but was not allowed to go to the area where the victims of the attack were.
Instead, they were evacuated by the Israeli Human Rights organisation Yesh Din (https://www.yesh-din.org/
IWPS volunteers were nearby and took pictures. The injured woman showed them the injury on her face which she did not want photographed and said that she was hit by the settlers.
After the injured villagers left, the harvest continued at the fastened pace and just before 1pm we heard shouts that settlers were coming and we saw people running with sacks of olives and their harvesting equipment. They were followed by three occupation soldiers and a policeman. A Palestinian man told us that a group of settlers, which included women, was coming from behind the hill to attack the farmers.
We then saw two settlers, one of them taking pictures of the harvesters, on the hill. We feared that more would follow and that the soldiers would not intervene to stop them. Sure enough, rather than stopping the settlers who were breaking the law, the soldiers punished the Palestinian farmers by shortening the harvest time stated on their permit by three hours. Their insufficiently long permit was further shortened because of the settler violence threat.
The fact is that Palestinian farmers’ presence on their land is not acceptable to Yitzhar illegal settlers and yesterday’s events are bound to be repeated in the future.
The illegal settlers want Urif land without their rightful owners on it and the Palestinian farmers will not allow it to happen willingly.
We are accompanying Urif farmers till the end of their permit time on the 10th, and we will see what this harvest season is going to bring to them.