Today (Thursday, October 26), Hashem Abu-Akel from the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron went to harvest his olive trees. Usually settlers prevent him from reaching these trees, so Abu-Akel coordinated his arrival in advance with Israeli security forces. Some 20 minutes before Abu-Akel was to begin work, the soldiers had yet to arrive. B’Tselem called the Israeli DCO in Hebron to warn them that Abu-Akel had no escort. The Deputy Head of the DCO promised that representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration would come to the grove.
At 1:30 in the afternoon, Abu-Akel went to his grove, accompanied by international volunteers and by B’Tselem’s fieldworker. Settlers had put up barbed wire blocking access to the grove. Abu-Akel discovered that some of the olives had already been taken by settlers.
Abu-Akel and the volunteers began to pick the remaining fruit. A group of settlers arrived and tried to prevent the harvesters from continuing. The settlers used curses and violence. One settler slapped a Palestinian man, and other settlers tried to prevent B’Tselem’s fieldworker from documenting the incident.
An Israeli soldier and army officer looked on while these events took place, without interfering. Only about an hour later did additional soldiers arrive, who protected Abu-Akel and his family while they harvested their grove.