Israeli Army Continues To Obstruct Olive Harvest

Published: Wed 22 Oct 2003 08:39 AM
Israeli Army Continues To Obstruct Olive Harvest
[Occupied West Bank] Harassment of Palestinian farmers in the West Bank regions of Jenin, Qalqilya and Nablus took on various forms today.
Israeli forces denied entry to over 80 farmers trying to pass through a gate at the Separation Wall in Anin village near Jenin. Soldiers told the farmers that in order to enter their olive groves and agricultural land on the north side of the Wall they needed visas permitting them to enter Israel. The soldiers then told the farmers to try their luck on Wednesday or to come back with visas.
In the village of Awarta, near Nablus, Israeli soldiers denied dozens of farmers passage into their olive groves despite previous written assurances from the District Coordination Office (DCO) that harvesting would be permitted on this day. The DCO had informed Awarta villagers that October 20-22, they would be allowed to pick, but as farmers gathered to enter their groves in the morning, soldiers denied them entry, stating that the designated picking date has been changed to Friday; Farmers were told to try back on Friday, despite the fact that Friday is a rest day for Muslims, and then begins the Ramadan fast.
In Jayyous, near Qalqilya, only elderly farmers, women and young children were allowed access to their farmland in the morning, men under 40 being turned away. In the evening, sixty people, including women and children, were detained by the Israeli military and not allowed to cross back into the village after a day of olive harvesting on their land. The Israeli Army claimed that they saw someone jump over the fence earlier in the day and that until they are told the person's identity, they will continue to hold all 60 people at the gate. Soldiers then detained one man, Khalid Abdel Sharib, approximately 50 years old, who they suspected of being the fence-hopper and took him initially into the nearby fields for interrogation, then into custody. Four hours later the 60 farmers were allowed to pass through the gate to go home. The night before, six farmers were detained on the West side of the gate in Jayyous for over 6 hours, released to go home at 11pm and one farmer taken by Israeli soldiers and not released until 4am.
The ongoing denial of land access not only breaches the human rights of the Palestinians to earn their living but such actions by the Israeli government runs contrary to an expressed acknowledgement of the importance of agriculture to the Palestinian economy. .
Despite these hardships, Palestinian farmers persist and struggle to find ways not to abandon their land. The International Solidarity Movement, in conjunction with Palestinian farmers, invites members of the press to join us in the villages and to witness the daily efforts of farmers to harvest, to live.

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