Mural in the Nablus old city

Rana Hamadeh | April 11, 2012 | Nablus

A French activist and a good friend of mine, Mita, came up with the idea to paint a mural on a wall in the old city of Nablus. Back in France, she is practicing graffiti artist so she had the experience to plan a project like this. She told me, “I did not want the project to be a French project, a French activist coming to paint, I wanted it to be a Palestinian project.”

Children crowd around Mita in the Yasmine neighborhood | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Mita teamed up with the Tanweer cultural centre in Nablus who assisted with coordination and provided volunteers. They acquired permission from the municipality and had all their paints donated by the local Arabic Painting Company (APC).

In Arabic, "by learning we will liberate our land and destroy the wall" | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

The painting began with the statement “by learning we will liberate our land and destroy the wall” and from there, volunteers compiled ideas and manifested them into images.

In Arabic, "we will return" | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Mural in the Yasmine neighborhood | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

The grand opening was on April 7th, 2012 and volunteers got together with residents of the Yasmine neighborhood to simultaneously do a clean up of the street

"Free Palestine" and Handala | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

"To a killer: If you contemplated the victim's face and thought you would remember your mother in the gas chamber, you would liberate yourself from the rifle's wisdom and change your mind: this is not how identity is reclaimed" - Mahmoud Darwish | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

In Arabic, "to a killer: If you contemplated the victim's face and thought you would remember your mother in the gas chamber, you would liberate yourself from the rifle's wisdom and change your mind: this is not how identity is reclaimed" - Mahmoud Darwish | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

“I wanted the volunteers to express themselves” says Mita, and indeed they did, bringing up issues of education, the right of return, the apartheid wall, prisoners, and national liberation.

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Fadi Abu Zeitoun, Killed as Settlers Attacked Farmers

Rana Hamadeh | April 9, 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

See original article on palsolidarity.org.

Israeli settlers attacked and chased a group of Palestinian farmers last Thursday, causing a tractor to flip over during the chase, causing the death of the Palestinian driver.

On Thursday, April 5th, armed settlers from the illegal Israeli colony of Itamar attacked a group of Palestinians en-masse. In haste and in fear for his life, twenty-eight year old Fadi Abu Zeitoun’s tractor tipped and crushed him as he fled from the pursuing settlers.

The villagers who own olive groves near Itamar rarely get “permission” from the Israeli District Coordination Office to access their own land. During the harvest season, they are permitted a few days, but in the spring when the land needs to be tended they have more difficulty acquiring permission. During this spring harvest, the villages of Hawarta, Yanoun, Aqraba, and Beita were told they had only four hours to  access their land. The area to be tended is approximately 1000 dunums so the villagers collected forty tractors to work as much land as possible in the shortest possible time. Israeli activists from the movement Peace Now, and a group of international activists were present in solidarity. Prime Minister Salam Fayad joined them to make a statement re-affirming their right to utilize the stolen land that they were standing upon.

The funeral of Fadi Sleman Abu Zeitoun | 06/04/12 | photos provided by Beita village

During the Prime-minister’s visit, Israeli authorities were positioned nearby and prevented the settlers from passing. However, shortly after Fayad left the area, Israeli soldiers permitted a mob of settlers to converge upon the Palestinian farmers tending to their land. They began by throwing stones, causing the group to separate and begin descending the hill. The settlers then proceeded to fire M-16 assault rifles in the direction of the unarmed farmers before releasing dogs. In the ensuing chaos,  and as Fadi desperately attempted to escape, his tractor flipped over and fell on him, mortally wounding the young man.

Palestinians witnessing the incident ran back towards the scene to offer assistance. The settlers promptly dispersed as they rushed him down the hill to the road, unfortunately he was already dead.

Fadi is of the village of Beita . With a population of only 12,000, this death resonates among all the residents. As Fadi’s father-in-law, Isam Bani Shams says, “This is not our first martyr nor our last, we have been in this situation for sixty-four years. Our village has lost some seventy martyrs.”

On the same date, twenty-four years ago, two men from the village of Beita were also murdered by settlers from Itamar.

In the gathering following the funeral, Fadi’s father, Sleman Abu Zeitoun, sat with his head down. Beside him sat three other men who have had a son murdered by Israeli soldiers or settlers.

Fadi was newly married to nineteen year-old Fida’ Bani Shams who is left widowed and six months pregnant. Her brother was killed at the age of sixteen by Israeli soldiers during the second intifada, and as her father says, “She has lost a brother and a husband so what can I say of her emotions? She is in grief. She is exhausted.” Fida’ sat slouched in a corner of the room, her eyes closed and blankets covering her feet.

Fadi’s sister has had a nervous breakdown since the death of her brother. She does not recognize  her husband or her daughters. Their mother, Mona Fihmeh says, “in terms of how I feel, I have patience, but my back has been broken from the burden.” Mona spent last night praying over her feverish body, and today she sent her daughter to the hospital. Her husband was on the way back from a funeral in Jordan when the accident occurred. He returned to Beita to find that his son had been killed.

Throughout the funeral, political talk arose about the various results of Israeli occupation and apartheid on Palestine. At first, the unemployment rate among Palestinians does not seem relevant to the death of Fadi Abu Zeitoun, but one soon realizes that Israel’s apartheid policies are to blame for both the impunity with which settlers are treated, and the numerous other negative consequences on livelihood.

The funeral of Fadi Sleman Abu Zeitoun | 06/04/12 | photos provided by Beita village

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory  reported that over 90% of complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians to the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment. OCHA’s report on settler violence notes that “the root cause of the settler violence phenomenon is Israel’s decades-long policy of illegally facilitating the settling of its citizens inside occupied Palestinian territory. This activity has resulted in the progressive takeover of Palestinian land, resources and transportation routes and has created two separate systems of rights and privileges, favouring Israeli citizens at the expense of the over 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Recent official efforts to retroactively legalize settler takeover of privately-owned Palestinian land actively promotes a culture of impunity that contributes to continued violence.”

Declared one of the men at the funeral, “every time Israel builds a colony, we will build another Palestinian town; every time they erect a building, we will build a new building.”

“Our steadfastness protects our land,” another proclaims.

Rana H. is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement.

Strength on a dark day.

Today in Kufr Qaddoum, our peaceful protest was quickly assaulted by the Israeli military in a way unprecedented in my past month attending protests here. Perhaps because it was the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, the soldiers were double their normal number, and were positioned on the hills above ahead of the protest. They planned the assault of the village that was to come.

Children led the procession holding posters of Arafat’s face and happily marching down the village’s main road.

The first time I saw them, these twins ran into the house in a panic, tripping over their words and finishing each others sentences. The soldiers!! - we saw them! - the jeep! - it's coming! - they're going to shoot us - and chase us - and arrest the boys!- HURRY!! As Palestinians manage to do with all things that might break another's heart and spirit - they laughed. What else can you do for the children?

The kids will be shooed back to their homes in a few minutes as we near the soldiers, so they take advantage of the time they have as part of the demonstration.

We continued down the street to reach the barbed wire that closes off their road. This is the cause of the demonstration. Israel closed their main road because it passes by an illegal colonial settlement. Now instead of a quick drive down to the city, Nablus, they must take a roundabout route of 45 minutes. When we stop in front of the barbed wire, a man talking into a speaker begins to remember Yasser Arafat.

Just moments before the demonstration was bombarded with tear gas from a close range.

The soldiers tried to shout orders at the procession through a loud speaker, but the Palestinian man continued his speech un-phased by the interruptions. As he finished his speech, tension grew, some people knowingly began to move back in anticipation for the usual bombardment. Before anyone could get out of the way, tens of high-velocity tear gas canisters were fired at a time, from close-range. If hit in the head, these are lethal. They’ve also been known to cause paralysis and kill children.

Article 14 of the UN Basic Principles:

“In the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable and only to the minimum extent necessary.”

Tear gas landing among us. Fired at high velocity, a hit to the head is lethal. Otherwise they are known to break bones and/or cause burns or wounds.

Israel is denying Palestinians the Human Right of peaceful assembly and association (UDHR Art. 20-1) by reacting to peaceful forms of protest with violence.

After the first assault of tear gas,  a group of soldiers began to make their way into the village. The soldiers arrested a Palestinian man, 30 year old Hazzem Barham, who was lying down suffering from the tear gas and being attended by a Red Crescent volunteer. They denied him medical attention.

While documenting the arrest of Barham, soldiers then targeted a US activist and arrested him.

Barham and the US activist were taken to the illegal settlement of Ari’el where they are being charged with throwing stones – a charge completely discredited by the video footage taken during the demonstration. The US activist later tells us that within the police station, Barham has been subjected to gross humiliation by both soldiers and settlers inside Ari’el – including being spat on, taken photos of and made to crouch down with his head between his legs.

A video of the two arrests taken by a colleague:

They fired several rounds of tear gas, including several about 200 metres away from the protesters, right in between civilian homes. A few minutes later a young boy emerged vomiting, and in a second was picked up by men, passed to a Red Crescent worker, and brought to the ambulance where he was treated with an oxygen mask. He appeared to lose consciousness when lying in the ambulance.

Soldiers began to chase the procession deeper into the town. They fired several tear gas canisters, and we began to run.

But as people ran, countless more began to be fired, following the protesters as they ran. They continued to shoot tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at a crowd that was running away. We were choking and running as fast as we could for a single breath of air.

A Red Crescent worker unconcious from severe tear gas inhalation is brought into the mosque which shortly after is hit with tear gas. (The same RC worker that is helping others in the previous 2 pictures)

Many of the protesters ran to the mosque nearby, the place injured protesters are always taken for treatment because it is the safe-haven during the protester. Six were treated with tear gas inhalation, and three were hit with tear gas canisters. Tear gas began to be fired in rounds from an adjacent mountain, and even hit the mosque.

It was two hours of this before the soldiers withdrew, followed by a crowd of villagers to ensure that they left.

At the end of this assault, much worse than I’ve seen in my time visiting Kufr Qaddoum, it seemed that everyone at the protest went to the city council centre and was fed a traditional Palesitnian meal, msakhan, served by the tons! Out of context this is a sad day. We lost two protesters, many were injured, the town is littered with tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets. Kids ran to me and showed me live ammo bullets they had found afterwards. But in reality, the procession left smiling and ready for the next moment because after years of having their road closed, they are finally fighting for their rights. I know that Palestine is strong because her people do not consume themselves in self-pity, but in courage, passion, and an unwavering joy for life.

 

Deir Istia: another martyr

I spent the days before Eid in an incredibly beautiful village named Deir Istia.

We just heard word that this afternoon, Deir Istia has gained another martyr. Father of five, Abdullah Mutaled Al-Mashni was run over and killed by an Illegal Israeli settler while going home from the olive harvest on his donkey. The settler is presumed to be from the nearby Illegal settlement Revava – founded on Palestinian land in 1991 and occupied since.

Hopefully we will get more info and write something in depth once things settle down a bit.

Sorting through the olives.

For a few days I worked with a very kind family with a powerful story in relation to their land – but I’m not quite ready to publish it, so for now I’ll share the nice side of their story, their beautiful home, their children, their land, their village.

A kind of underground oven over charcoal; a lid is put over the barrel and is covered with earth and left to cook for hours, even over night.

Deir Istia has been beautifully maintained thanks to several organizations dedicated to preserving and restoring historic buildings. The village has been alive since the christian era in Palestine, and has been quite well documented since the 1300s when it was a village prescribed to send lentils and other produce to Hebron.

Buildings in the Old City of Deir Istia

The window-like shapes in the wall were used to hold oil lamps/torches. The roof on this room is in the process of being rebuilt to resemble its original state.

Above, there is a room like this atop each of the four entrances to the old city. The elders of the village used to meet in these rooms to make decisions for the village.

Kufr Qaddoum gassed again

This is yet another report from Kufr Qaddoum’s weekly protests. Tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets. I had to go in an ambulance, and from inside I witnessed another man require oxygen from gas inhalation, and one man who had broken his foot after being hit by one of the high-velocity gas canisters. Also families were affected when the soldiers entered the village. Protesters were unarmed and the soldiers were heavily armed. Here is the report!:

The Israeli army assaulted peaceful protesters in Kufr Qaddoum with tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs, injuring two and causing severe tear gas suffocation for three families, including five children, and two protesters, including an International Solidarity Movement activist.
Approximately 250 protesters were present, including children, and international and Israeli activists.

One Palestinian broke his foot when a high-velocity tear gas canister hit him, and is being transferred to Jordan for special treatment. Another protester was injured when a a tear gas canister hit him in the hand. Three families were forced to evacuate their homes when soldiers fired tear gas in between their homes. Five children were witnessed crying and running out of their homes and away from the approaching soldiers. Two protesters were treated with oxygen after severe tear gas inhalation, including a female ISM activist who fell unconscious.

A Palestinian man broke his foot when he was hit by a tear gas canister and is being transferred to Jordan for special treatment

Children lead the protest holding posters praising Mahmoud Abbas and UNESCO, and calling Avigdor Lieberman a “racist” and “terrorist”. As the march progressed to where soldiers were stationed, most of the children dispersed and protesters stopped in front of the barbed wire marking the street as closed,  about 15 metres from the soldiers.

The Israeli commander approached and spoke to some of the Palestinians, attempting to set rules but demonstrators refused to recognize these rules without Israel first acknowledging that the road is their legal right to use.


Soon after, soldiers fired several rounds of tear gas. They continued to shoot tear gas in bunches for the next hour. For the first hour, the protesters kept returning after each round of gas. The soldiers then began to advance on the road into the village. They began to fire rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs as well as the gas. At this point the three families evacuated their homes.
Protesters continued to come back at them despite the dangerous situation, and eventually the soldiers left the street and the demonstration ended.


The Palestinian-led demonstration has occurred weekly in Kufr Qaddoum for the past 19 weeks. The village was involved in a legal battle for six years concerning the closure of their main road because it runs parallel to the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim. During this time there were no protests. The Israeli court finally ruled in their favour, but the road was then closed because it is not “suitable” or “safe” for travel. 5 months ago the protests resumed. Since the road has been closed, Kufr Qaddoum residents must take an indirect road to reach Nablus, which increases transportation from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. This has resulted in hardships, particularly because there is no hospital in the village and residents must drive to Nablus for care, and due to the increased price of transport for the many students who study in Nablus.

“With Children Visible” Israeli Military Assaults Kufr Qaddoum

Rana H | October 28, 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

See the original article on the ISM site

Soldiers fired teargas directly into crowd at peaceful protesters in Kufr Qaddoum. Internationals and Palestinians, including children, were gathered behind barbed wire that runs across their main road, and were not advancing when soldiers began to fire around ten canisters of tear gas at once from a short distance. Two protesters were injured while escaping tear gas, including one international woman, and many suffered from tear gas inhalation. They continued to shoot tear gas at the approximately 100 protesters for over an hour. Many civilians from the village were affected by the perpetual firing of tear gas.

A boy leading the crowd of protesters running away as tear gas is fired.

 

Protesters were holding signs calling on the International community not to support Illegal Israeli settlements when the tear gas began from a distance of only 25 metres. A Swedish International activist was not expecting such an assault on un-advancing protesters.

“It was my first time at a protest here and I was shocked that they would fire tear gas directly at a peaceful crowd with children visibly among them.” She fell while escaping the surrounding tear gas. “I was blinded by the smoke and I fell on rocks.

Two Palestinian men picked me up and when we escaped from the gas I was covered in blood.”

When she tripped, her hand broke her fall, but was cut on the palm, requiring her to go to the hospital and receive three stitches.

International fell on stones while running from tear gas, required three stitches

The protest, held by the Popular Committee of Kufr Qaddoum, was protesting the closure of their main road, which up until 2003 had been the mean ways of transportation from Kufr Qaddoum to Nablus. The original journey of 15 minutes now takes 40 minutes by an indirect road. The Expenses to the 3500 Palestinian inhabitants have increased significantly as a result, particularly for the many students of the village who study daily in Nablus. Two Palestinians have died in the past few years, after not reaching the hospital in time for treatment.

This is the 18th protest in a row that Kufr Qaddoum has held on Fridays, after more than six years of no protests  while the village was involved with legal arguments with the Israeli Court. Finally, the court ruled that they could use the road again, but that the road is not “suitable” for transportation. It was closed. The road passes the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim. Israel has a thorough history of closing, to Palestinian cars, roads which pass settlements.

Weekly, soldiers have responded to the unarmed protesters by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and sound bombs on civilians. Often the soldiers have entered the village, firing in between houses with families within them and seriously affecting the lives of civilians.

More than half of the villagers’ land, approximately 11,800 dunams, are situated in area C which means that the Palestinians need permission to work there from the Israeli District Coordinating Office. Last week, following the protest, the Israeli military revoked the permission they had previously given the village for the following weekend.

Rana H is an activist with International Solidarity Movement.

Burin: “We know for certain it’s not the settlers’ land, because they burn it.”

Palestine has been in the olive groves for the month of October, picking despite threats of Israeli soldier & settler violence and harassment. At dawn, generations of the family, from grandmother to grandson, pack up their donkeys or tractors and head to their piece of land to pick each and every olive from each tree on their land. It is hard work, but the people will only complain when they are prevented from reaching their groves by settlers or soldiers. The work is often done with a hint of a rush, knowing that at any moment they could be ordered to leave. When the bags of olives arrive at home at the end of the day, a sigh is released and a prayer is made for the next day.

A portion of the Najjar family's land

This year, more than 4000 olive trees have been burned in Burin by the illegal Israeli settlers. (LRC)

“Every year it is getting worse, and this year it is a lot worse. It used to be they burned trees once a year, but this year they have burned trees four times since April. Since April, they have cut down and burned entire areas to clear the land so we can use nothing,” says Ghassan Najjar. “Olives are the most important farming product here for us. Of course the olive harvest is important for the olives and for the resistance. We know for certain that if we leave the land they will steal it, and claim it is their land.” He also added something that is easily overlooked, “we know for certain that it’s not their land, because they burn it.”(Harvesting Olives as a statement of resistance, EI)

The hillside pictured below shows some of the trees that were so damaged by the fire that they had to be pruned down to stumps. Further down you can see that many of the trees are brown and dry from the fire. The ground is still littered with remnants of black ash.

An Int’l recounts a burning in July of this year: “Arriving at the scene we found dozens of local men and boys fighting the fire. Their mouths covered with scarves and shirts they were beating down the flames with olive branches and cloths. A small boy ran up the hillside carrying bottles of water for the men covered in ash and streaked with sweat… around 50 settlers from the Yizhar settlement beside Burin had come down the hills at 11.45am and set fire to the trees and fields. On such a dry day with a strong breeze the flames caught easily and spread rapidly. However, the fire engine and locals were prevented from reaching the flames for over two hours by the Israeli army.”

“We watched as groups of settlers appeared as shadowy figures through the smoke, viewing the inferno from the hilltop, the army standing between them and the villagers putting out the flames. The rest of the team and I wondered what they could be thinking as they looked down on the village’s livelihood being destroyed.” (RightsNi)

This family has had about a quarter of their trees burned in the past year. We were present because their land is high up the mountain, near to an illegal Israeli settlement. They also didn’t have Israeli authority “permission” to pick the land, but seeing as the land is the property of this family, they were determined to pick it regardless. Many Palestinian families refuse to apply for “permission”, or if it is given, will only pick on days without it. Despite having permission, soldiers often appear and inexplicably revoke it, ordering everyone home.

Climbing the charred landscape. This year, hundreds of trees were burned on this hill.

As we picked I overheard a Palestinian man exclaim that “even with a career, a car, a house, friends, the land always comes first. We drop everything and attend to the land because it is the true value we have.”

Faces of Burin

Below is a view of beautiful Burin from the site of the murders of two young men by the Israeli army. Guys from the village were known to come up here at night, smoke, and hang out. This particular night, there were only two there when a grenade hit the area. One was killed immediately, but the other died after being shot three more times. I’ll bring names and more details as soon as I can, inshaAllah.

Burin has been good to me, hard on my hands, soft to my heart, filling, welcoming, beautiful…

go home

Permission to enter their own lands: Kufr Qaddoum rampaged again by military

International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

In the village of Kufr Qaddoum the people held a demonstration for the 17th Friday in a row. The demonstration started around 11:30 AM in the center of the village and consisted of approximately 80 people. The procession only made it to a barbed wire that blocked the road although it stood within the infamous “red line” that outlines Kufr Qaddoum and separates it from the nearby illegal settlement of Qadumim.

With border police and Israeli military present, the protesters were immediately fired at with tear gas. The soldiers directly targeted the protesters from a distance of approximately 50 meters. One young man was hit by a tear gas canister on his thigh by one of the very first shots before the protesters pulled back into the village. They soon returned and were again violently attacked with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets by the Israeli army.

At around 12 PM the army passed their own barbed wire blockade and entered the village in military vehicles. Sound bombs and tear gas was fired in large amounts. Civilians who were not taking part in the demonstration were also affected, including one elderly woman who was seen falling over when running for her life outside the mosque in the middle of the village.

One ISM activist was nearly arrested during the military rampage on Kufr Qaddoum, but managed to escape from the soldier chasing him. Two Palestinian activists were injured and taken inside the mosque for treatment from the Red Crescent, and several people were seriously affected by tear gas inhalation.

The demonstration ended just before 1 PM when the army withdrew from the village. The soldiers  later announced in loud speakers that all villagers had to leave their lands and none were allowed to continue the olive harvest during the rest of Friday and Saturday, though the villagers have permission already from Israeli authorities to enter their lands on Friday and Saturday.Four days before the protest Israeli soldiers entered the village during the night and arrested nine people. They are all still being held.The weekly demonstrations in Kufr Qaddoum are arranged by the Popular Committee of Kufr Qaddoum and held in protest against the closure of the main road entering the village. The road was closed in 2003, and the case was taken to the Israeli High Court. After years of waiting the people were allowed access to the road. The court ruled that the villagers could not use the road until 2012 after Israeli claims of the road not being “suitable” or “safe.” The main road leads from Kufr Qaddoum out to the main road to Nablus and passes the nearby illegal settlement of Qadumim, which was established in 1976.

Beautiful Burin

I’ve been in Nablus now for about 4 days, leaving at 7 every morning to pick olives in solidarity with farmers in Burin, a beautiful village nearby. Burin is the 2nd largest village surround Nablus, in terms of land, but has a population of only 4,000 meaning that most of their village is green farm land. The houses in the valley are surrounded by olive, lemon, almond, apple and fig trees, that climb up the side of the hills surrounding Burin. At the hilltops live Illegal Israeli settlers.

Last month, settlers from Yitzhar burned 200 olive trees while Burin’s villagers were celebrating a wedding

Unlike Palestinians, who must submit to checks constantly and randomly by Israeli soldiers and police, these Israeli settlers are free to carry arms, despite their violent reputation. For the crimes they’ve committed, none have served more than a few weeks, even for murder. More often they get off without charge. Israeli soldiers are supposed to protect the Palestinians from these settlers, yet they often watch as the crime is committed, and will arrest Palestinians for retaliating or complaining. Even though Israel politically claims to distance itself from these fanatics, the workings of their entire state seem to support them.

A few months ago, settlers descended and burned hundreds and hundreds of olive trees. The earth is just black and bare. Almost every man I have met here has served time in prison, without charge, or with a ridiculous charge (like cleaning the streets of garbage!).

finishing breakfast in the olive trees

At any moment, these Israeli settlers can descend into the village, heavily armed, and harass & attack the Palestinians who are not allowed to carry arms. If they do, they are called terrorists and are blamed. If they do, the whole village will face army violence. The soldiers are supposed to protect the villagers, but they don’t. Palestinians shouldn’t have to ask permission to the Israeli authorities to farm their own land. Palestinians shouldn’t have to be constantly aware of settlers descending or arbitrary arrests. Palestinians shouldn’t have to have us internationals follow them to the groves, because if Israeli settlers or soldiers come, they will be treated more violently, more illegally, and less humanely if no one is watching.

Harvesting Olives as a State of Resistance: For the settlers of Yitzhar, a burning Palestinian olive tree signifies exactly what a burning cross signified to the Ku Klux Klan in the US of the 1950s — in either case, the message is racial intolerance, and the purpose is ethnic cleansing. “The settlers use fear, they intimidate people to leave their homes … they say ‘we cut down the trees because a Palestinian touched this and made it dirty. This is our land and we can do whatever we want,’” Najjar said.

The Survival of Olives: Olives have been cultivated in Palestinian land for thousands of years.  Around 95% of the harvest is used to make olive oil, with the remainder for pickles, table olives, and soap.  The harvest is worth around 364m shekels (£64m) a year to the fragile Palestinian economy, struggling under the burden of occupation.  Up to 100,000 families depend upon the olive harvest for their livelihoods to some extent, according to the UN. Olives are also symbol of Palestinian culture and a connection to the land.  Olive picking contains a strong political dimension; particularly in villages which are vulnerable to settler attacks and interference from the Israeli military…

Settlers chase woman with wild boar, causing both her legs to break

Rana H.

Oct 21, 2011

Early Thursday morning, a Palestinian woman in Beit Furik was picking olives when a settler began to chase her, and set loose a wild boar after her, causing her to fall and suffer broken bones in both her legs.

Muhaya Khatatba was in her olive groves with her two sons, aged 14 and 17 years old, when a settler descended from above the hill and began to chase her. “I was with my kids picking olives, when a settler saw us, and took advantage of us the fact that we were all alone.” Then the settler released a wild boar after her. She beckoned to her boys to run ahead of her, and as she ran, she tripped on some rocks and broke her leg. She struggled to begin running again, using one leg, and fell again, breaking the other leg. Unable to stand, her boys ran back to pick her up and ran with her to meet other villagers. She broke one leg in three places, and the other leg at the ankle.

Khatatba says that when she saw the settlers she was very frightened because of the violent attacks on residents of Beit Furik in the past few years. “But the fear I felt for myself is nothing compared to the fear I felt for my sons,” she says. “And I’m not concerned only for myself, but for all the people of Bait Furiq. They can’t go to their olives. We want a permanent solution. We want someone to stand by us.” Khatatba is only thirty-five years old. Her husband cannot join them in the harvest because he is obliged to a full time job. She has never gone into her trees without permission from the Israeli authorities, and Thursday was one of the four days she was permitted. Now her permission time has run out despite that many olive trees are left.

Beit Furik is very close to the Itamar settlement, considered illegal by international law. Itamar has a wide history of brutal attacks and harrassment to the native Palestinian population around them. The settlement was formed in 1984 and has grown from 300 residents to over 1000.

In the past, settlers have reportedly damaged Palestinian property, obstructed access to their farm land, stolen olives, attacked, and even shot at local Palestinians. For example, the murder of a Palestinian taxi driver who was shot and killed by an Itamar resident in 2004, or the murders of 3 Palestinians in their home in 2007, including a 10-week old infant. In both cases, the settlers who committed the crimes did not serve time in prison.