October 30, 2008 - 8:00pm

The harvest season began in the West Bank several weeks ago, and is expected to end in two weeks. In light of the rise in settler violence in the last year, the olive-picking is accompanied by fear of settlers attacking Palestinian farmers. In a grove belonging to Burin, for instance, near which the Yitzhar settlement has been built, settlers threw stones at farmers picking olives for over an hour, while soldiers stood by and did not intervene. One farmer was wounded in the head and hospitalized. In a grove by ‘Azmut, near which the Elon Moreh settlement was built, settlers attacked a family who were picking olives. The settlers stole the family’s sacks of olives, emptied the contents on the ground, and beat the father of the family.

B’Tselem reiterates that soldiers are fully authorized, and in fact obliged, by law, to act against all lawbreakers in the West Bank, be they Palestinian or Israeli. While the police are primarily responsible for law enforcement, if soldiers and not policemen are present on a scene, it is their duty to detain suspects until the police arrive. This obligation was reconfirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court in a 2006 ruling.

In light of the frequency of attacks on Palestinians during this season in previous years, B’Tselem gave out 50 additional video cameras this month, most of them in the northern West Bank, as part of its camera distribution project. The major goal of the additional distribution is to reduce violence during this volatile season and use footage both to ensure law enforcement and to raise public awareness in Israel.
The following clip, comprised of sections of footage shot by activist Yossi Ya’akov in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, shows settlers harassing international activists who came to take part in the harvest. A settler is seen holding a camera he stole from a Palestinian photographer who was filming the event. He then punches an activist who tries to take it back from him, and then throws the camera on the ground. Further on, policemen are seen violently removing activists from the spot.


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