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In the shadow of the settlements

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    Tales of the prophets: harvesting in the shadow of the settlements by ISM Nablus Monday 30th October www.palsolidarity.org He turned his walking-stick into a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2006
      Tales of the prophets: harvesting in the shadow of the settlements
      by ISM Nablus
      Monday 30th October

      "He turned his walking-stick into a giant snake that swallowed up all
      the others' tiny snakes. And so the Pharoah knew that Moses was a
      prophet and not just a simple magician." Rada, 29 years old, is
      telling us stories while we kneel along the edges of the tarpaulins
      picking up stray olives from the ground. Her voice is soft and
      soothing, almost like song, even though her English is taken directly
      from North American sit-coms. She especially likes Seinfeld and

      Rada's family are spread out along a mountain ridge some 300 metres
      from the Israeli settlement of Itamar, just west of Rujeeb village
      outside of Nablus city. The village is effectively an expansion of
      Balata refugee camp, built by families wishing to escape the
      insecurity and cramped environment of their former home. Perched on
      branches and standing on the ground pulling the olives off of the
      boughs with nimble fingers, we are cheerful but guarded. Despite the
      pretty surroundings and the spring-like weather, it is difficult to
      forget that the settlement houses and the perimeter fence with its
      alarmed gate loom menacingly behind our backs.

      A settler militia van comes driving along the road and an armed
      settler steps out, opens the gate and looks around. A military jeep
      hurries behind it, screeches to a halt and soldiers step out to
      converse with the, seemingly self-appointed, settler deputy. After
      five minutes, both vehicles drive off and we discover that we have
      been holding our breaths all the while.

      The day proceeds quietly. We finish picking the trees closest to the
      settlement and move on to a second plot of land adjacent to the
      settler by-pass road. In the morning, soldiers tell the international
      pickers present to get out of the area as it is a so-called "red
      zone", implying that only people officially residing in Rujeeb may be
      there. Their will to enforce this rule, however, seems halfhearted and
      we are not interrupted again.

      As we walk back toward the village, with Rada singing a Sami Yusuf
      tune written in ode to his mother, we pass through a valley framed by
      the main settlements and outposts of Elon Moreh and Itamar. Rada's
      husband tells us about how settlers planted a bomb under the car of
      the mayor of a nearby village, crippling him for life, after he had
      brought the settlement's claims of land ownership to the Israeli
      Supreme Court and won.

      We decide to meet tomorrow at the same time and wave goodbye to the
      children, wishing them a goodnight in the village accent that they
      have tried to teach us all day. It has been a good day, promising
      plenty of good days to come. Welcome to the olive harvest in Nablus,
      where harvesting is resisting.

      For photos visit:

      4. More Settler Intimidation in Nablus Olive Harvest

      by ISM Nablus, 30th October
      At 8am this morning two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs)
      accompanied a Palestinian family from the village of Azmut, just east
      of Nablus, to their olive groves. This land has found itself within
      close proximity to the illegal Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh,
      meaning that the family has been unable to harvest or cultivate this
      land for the past 8 years. Just 5 minutes after starting to harvest, a
      settler-operated "security" jeep pulled up a short distance further
      up the hill, and started screaming over a loudspeaker at the
      Palestinians, mainly in Hebrew with a little Arabic. One of the family
      told us he he had demanded that they "go back go back to [their]
      houses". The villagers were visibly distressed, the village having
      long been subject to violence and intimidation from the settlers. With
      the settler in the jeep continuing to threaten us over the loudspeaker,
      the villagers left immediately. The two HRWs called the DCO (District
      Co-ordination Office, the civilian administration wing of the Israeli
      military in the West Bank) and asked for the Israeli police to
      intervene. Around 15 minutes later a border police jeep arrived and
      stopped next to the settler vehicle. However by this stage the
      villagers, accompanied by the 2 internationals, had retreated to a safe
      distance, and so it was not clear what the border police were going to
      do about the situation.

      After the border police arrived the settler jeep remained where it was
      for about 10 minutes. There didnt seem to be much interaction between
      the police vehicle and the settler jeep; a police man appeared to say a
      few words to the settler(s) when they first arrived, but both vehicles
      remained next to each other on the top of the hill. The army certainly
      didn't come to protect the villagers.

      The villagers were unwilling to return without explicit assurances from
      the DCO that their protection from the Israeli settlers could be

      The Palestinian family decided instead to harvest some olives out of
      sight of the settlement, and the rest of the day's harvest went ahead
      without incident. This one family alone has 90 dunums of land which
      they are unable to cultivate due to the proximity of this notorious
      Israeli settlement, leaving them with just 60 dunums.

      The settlement's colonist residents have been known to shoot at
      Palestinians attempting to pick their olives, and the army is complicit
      in this intimidation, the family told us. They regularly refuse to
      allow Palestinians access to their land, in contravention to Israeli
      High Court rulings. We were also told of several previous incidents of
      the army entering the village and assaulting its residents.

      The HRW's were also shown a stream running into the village. Although
      it previously provided the village with much needed water, it is now
      heavily polluted by a factory in the Elon Moreh settlement, and its
      chemical stench spreads over a considerable area. Despite all the
      setbacks and intimidation, the villagers of Azmut refuse to leave, and
      will continue this year's olive harvest as they have done for many

      Clarified and expanded: 6 November.

      For photos see:

      5. Olive Harvest in Tel Rumeida Interrupted by Occupation Authorities

      by ISM Hebron, October 31st
      At 8:00 a.m. six internationals gathered at the home of the Palestinian
      family that lives directly across the street from the Tel Rumeida
      settlement to help the family pick its olives. Settlers had stolen
      olives from a family tree the night before so it was imperative to
      harvest the olives before the settlers could make away with the
      remaining olives.

      The internationals were joined by three members of CPT and by three
      observers from the EAPPI and everyone went to a parcel of family land
      that is adjacent to a military outpost and is in a closed military

      The group picked from 9 to 11 am, then the two internationals and
      several family members left for a meeting. Picking continued until
      12:05 when four border police invaded a house near the olive grove
      where another family member resides. Two CPT people followed them into
      the house to record what was happening. The police told the CPTers to
      leave but CPT refused.

      Then a small group of visitors on their way to the Sabeel conference
      was brought to the house by a CPT member in order to observe the olive
      picking. The army tried to prevent them visiting the house as the road
      leading to it has been closed by the Israeli military.

      At this point, the police, who had come to the house for a purpose we
      don't know, noticed the group picking olives right next to the
      military outpost. They challenged the olive pickers and most exited the
      field to enter into discussion with the police or watch what was going
      on. CPT gave the high court order to the police but this did not appear
      to affect their objections to the olive picking. Then the
      internationals and family members at the community meeting were called
      and returned. They began filming and discussing. Phone calls were made
      to the DCO and the captain. At 12:20 the police officer in charge said
      that the army captain would come and talk to the whole group but he
      never came. Then at 12:40 the police officer in charge left and four
      border police remained including two who spoke Arabic. They said they
      were there to protect us but in fact they were there to prevent anyone
      from picking the olives.

      At 1 pm, a representative from B'Tselem came and he phoned the DCO.
      At this point two representatives of the High Commission of the Red
      Cross emerged into the yard through the grape vines. They were on a
      regular inspection patrol and heard the commotion. After them came a
      representative from ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel).
      Finally a decision was conveyed to the police that only Palestinians
      could pick the olives. None of the internationals could work in the
      olive grove.

      We then all went to the home of the Palestinian family whose olives
      were being picked as they had prepared lunch for us.



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