Nidal Ishtayeh
October 26, 2010 - 12:00am

NABLUS, West Bank, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Abdel Karim Hussein, 38, was "shocked" after getting a permission from the Israeli army to reach his farm adjacent to the Alon Moreh Jewish settlement east of the West Bank city of Nablus, to harvest his olive trees.

Hussein said the fence of the settlement occupies parts of his 325-dunum (325,000 square meters) farm. "Reaching the farm is a journey of torment, because I can only reach my land twice a year after coordination with the Israeli-Palestinian security liaison office."

But getting the permission is far from getting a happy ending.

Hussein, along with others in the neighborhood, had to wait for hours and hours outside the gate of the farm. "We were attacked by the settlers who prevented us from walking to our land," said Hussein.

"We finally ran away from the settlers and reached our land, but to our great surprise, we discovered that most of the trees were uprooted and the crops of olives were stolen by the settlers. "

The settlement of Alon Moreh was established in 1980 on the land of Nablus area, where large areas of the land of Hussein and other families were confiscated by the settlers. He said the settlement swallowed "our lands in Deir al-Hattab village."

Olive and olive oil produce are representing a major Palestinian national income. However, within the past few years, the olive production has declined and amid the Israeli measures, the production would be further reduced in the future.

Every year during the harvest season of olives in the West Bank, the Jewish settlers usually escalate their assaults on the Palestinian farmers all over the West Bank.

The settlers' assaults not only target the land inside the settlement, but also that outside or adjacent to the settlement, said Hussein. Many farmers complained that settlers sometimes opened fire at them.

Last week, settlers of the Alon Moreh settlement opened fire to residents of the neighboring Azmout, a Palestinian village with a population of 4,000, while they were picking up olives.

The Israeli army "knows clearly that my land was vandalized and looted by the settlers," said Hussein. "They gave me permission not to help me reach my land and pick up the olives, but to let me see the destruction with my own eyes."

"The Israeli practice against me, my family and my land is a violation of all international human rights conventions," he said.

He called on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and all the human rights organizations to interfere and put an end to the settlers' attacks against farmers and the olive trees.

The PNA ministry of agriculture said in a report that the produce of the olive oil this year would decline by 30 percent compared to 2008 "due to the escalated attacks of Israeli settlers and the confiscation of lands."

Ismail D'eiq, PNA Minister of Agriculture, said the major reason behind the decline of olive oil production "is the challenge the Palestinian farmers are facing, mainly that their farms and trees are adjacent to the Jewish settlements or close to the separation wall."

"The separation wall that Israel builds on the West Bank territories is isolating around 40,000-dunum land, which represents 4.3 percent of the fruitful olives in the West Bank," said D'eiq.

A report issued by Israeli rights groups said that the number of Jewish settlers, who live in the West Bank, has hit 500,000 this year, adding that more than 300,000 of them live in 121 settlements and around 100 illegal settlement posts occupy 42 percent of the West Bank. "These territories are considered occupied territories by all the international conventions," said Hussein. "I dream to wake up one day and see that the Israeli army has withdrawn from the West Bank and the settlers have evacuated the settlements."


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