Avi Issacharoff, Anshel Pfeffer
October 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Residents of the settlement of Shvut Rachel clashed with Palestinians picking olives in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, after the settlers held a march to protest the "security threat" posed by the harvest.

The settlers, who were joined by residents of nearby illegal outposts, said the Palestinian harvesters were a threat because could gather intelligence and launch attacks from the olive groves.

"If they harvest near us, then we'll be near them," one of the settlers said as they headed out for the march.

When the settlers reached the Palestinians, the two groups began throwing stones at each other, after which the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police deployed troops to separate the sides.

Israel's security forces allowed the settlers to enter the nearby Palestinian village of Kraiyut to hold a brief rally against the harvest; troops subsequently removed them from the site.

No one was wounded during the incident.

Meanwhile, there were reports Tuesday that settlers uprooted dozens of olive trees near the West Bank outpost of Adi Ad. Security forces fired teargas at the settlers and Palestinians.

Over recent weeks, the IDF has carried out a joint operation with the Border Police to safeguard the Palestinian olive harvest. As part of the operation, IDF soldiers deploy in a number of areas around the settlements on a daily basis in order to allow the Palestinians to pick olives without harassment by settlers.


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