During this year’s olive harvest, B’Tselem has once again documented attacks by settlers against Palestinian farmers and their property. In light of past experience, the Israeli security forces should have taken action in advance to protect the Palestinian harvesters. Instead, in many cases, IDF and police personnel have stood by and left the farmers to the mercy of their attackers, who sometimes even received assistance from security personnel.
For example, on 9 November 2005, several female settlers arrived at an olive grove in the area of Ramallah and attempted to steal two bags of olives that had been harvested the same day. Kamal Shabaneh, a farmer who was present at the site, told B’Tselem:
“We shouted at them and they left the sacks and ran away. There were around fifteen soldiers with us. Their commander was an officer from the Israeli liaison office… I told him that settlers had tried to steal olives. While we were talking, the girls came back to the sacks of olives. Most of them had knives, and they began to rip the sacks. The other farmers and I began to push them away, to protect ourselves and the crop. The girls threw stones at us. One of the girls took a stick used for picking olives and hit my mother… The other girls had sticks and beat other women who were with us. The soldiers tried to separate us and the settlers, but they favored the settlers. The soldiers grabbed me and the men who were with me, and released the girls, who continued to rip the sacks. I did not get the impression that the soldiers tried to stop them. The soldiers also threatened us, saying that if we didn’t leave the site, they would open fire at us.”
Another case, that occurred on 10 November 2005, ended in the hospitalization of Khalil Jaber, a farmer and resident of al-Yanun, Nablus District. Jabber told B’Tselem:
“At about 9.30 A.M., I saw a settler with an M-16 rifle arrive from the north and stand about 100 meters from me. Another settler was standing about 300 meters from me. I was scared, and moved away… The first settler approached me and stopped close by me… Suddenly the settler struck me under my right eye with the butt of his rifle. I fell to the ground and felt that I was losing consciousness. He ran to the north toward the settlement. My nose and cheek were bleeding. I tried to get up, but I felt dizzy and fell down.”
Jaber suffered fractured bones in his face, and he was hospitalized at Rafidiya Hospital, in Nablus, for two weeks.