Nablus, Wednesday, October,23, 2019 (WAFA) - Israeli settlers today stole the olive harvest of Palestinian farmers in the village of Deir Sharaf, northwest of the occupied West Bank City of Nablus, according to local sources.
Member of Deir Saharaf village council Murad Nasser told WAFA that a number of Palestinian farmers entered their olive groves isolated by fence surrounding the nearby illegal settlement of Shavei Shomron, located on the northern side of the village, but they were completely shocked to find out that Israeli settlers had destroyed their trees and stole their harvest.
Every year, without fail, much of the olive harvest is characterized by attacks on Palestinian farmers and families by Israeli settlers and armed soldiers.
Over the past two weeks, the West Bank witnessed a wave of settler attacks and agricultural terrorism as Palestinian farmers began the year’s olive harvest. Attacks were mainly in northern villages near Nablus and Salfit, governorates with the largest concentration of illegal Israeli settlements.
Settlers attacked olive harvesters in Burin, a village south of Nablus, on 12 October, the same day as a 55-year-old Palestinian farmer was attacked by settlers in the nearby village of Tel. Two days prior, settlers stole olives from trees belonging to farmers also in the same area.
Armed settlers attacked farmers in the village Shufa, near the city Tulkarem in the north, who threatened to shoot farmers if they did not leave their land.’
The most devastating attack occurred on the morning of 16 October when more than 30 masked armed settlers charged at Palestinian farmers and foreign volunteers in Burin, attacking three internationals and seriously injuring one, including 80-year-old Rabbi Moshe Yehuda from the Rabbis for Human Rights organization.
With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45% of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families.
According to UN OCHA, the olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families and accounts for a quarter of the gross agricultural income of the occupied territories.
But, as local NGO MIFTAH notes, “olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any other trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land.”
“Because the trees are drought-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.”