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WATCH: Olive harvest brings settler violence in West Bank

On the outskirts of the northern West Bank village of Qasra, a 19-year-old resident recently told me that settlers are not going to stop attacking Palestinians, simply because they don’t have too. According to the man, settlers live in a world of no consequence as if removed from the normal social contract of Western societies. One look at this year’s olive harvest, taking place throughout the West Bank over the next two weeks, proves the statement to be correct.

This morning (Friday), a group of armed settlers from the illegal outpost of Ash Kodesh (Sacred/Holy Light) approached a group of Palestinians picking olives, accompanied by Israeli and international activists. The Palestinians were from the nearby village of Jalud and had been picking olives in peace until settlers descended from their outpost. The settlers claim that the Palestinians “provoked” them by throwing stones, a claim denied by the Palestinians and activists.  Settlers also noted that the Palestinians did not get permission from the proverbial master of the land – the Israeli army – to have an olive harvest.  You can read their fantastic understanding of how the events unfolded on Ynet.

Palestinians claim that the settler attack was driven by pure malice. As you can see in the embedded video, many settlers had covered their faces with masks, with some carrying metal poles in addition to several firearms. Had the settlers only been defending themselves, one wonders why they would cover their faces—a practice popular among setters engaged in wanton violent attacks on Palestinian civilians and their supporters.

The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement, a leftist activist outfit based in Jerusalem, posted the embedded video on Twitter, claiming that it shows a sound grenade thrown by settlers at Palestinians this morning. While this has not been independently confirmed, it comes weeks after the Israeli government announced that it would arm settlers with “less lethal”riot control gear, such as tear gas and sound grenades, ahead of feared violence surrounding the PLO statehood bid in the United Nations.  West Bank settlers remain the only group in Israel/Palestine with the ability to use violence in a brash and dangerous way while suffering virtually zero consequences.

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    1. Menil

      Combatants for Peace, who published the video originally, said they took it offline temporarily due to reasons they couldn’t elaborate on right now, but you should hopefully be able to see it again tomorrow.

      Reply to Comment
    2. I can’t see the video. The Youtube displays the text “This video is private”.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Menil

      Videos are back.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      For several years, the IDF has been coordinating harvest of olives by Arabs who own land close to Jewish settlements. These “olive harvests” have been used to encroach on Jewish land or for reconnaisance for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks. If these people didn’t coordinate the harvest (if that’s indeed what it really was) that’s their problem. But, as we all know, the Sheikh Jarrah people and the other NGO’s are PRAYING for violence so they can market the pictures around the world and raise money. Too bad this one didn’t work out too well for them.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Menil

      “Ben Israel”: Sheikh Jarrah people were not involved in this, but Combatants for Peace. Your impression is completely wrong about the goals of these organizations though. Palestinians have suffered much violence in the past when harvesting olives, so liberal Israeli Jews accompany them since settlers were in the past reluctant to attack when Jews are around, though this has changed now.

      Also, please explain to me why did the settlers cover their faces, and why did they have clubs? And why did they smash cameras of activists? If they have a problem with “uncoordinated” olive harvests by Palestinians, they should call their army (in a normal country one would call the police, not army in such a case).

      All video footage they managed to salvage from yesterday’s attack after the camera was broken:
      1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQHtbLUrx7Y
      2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3WAbToOgpU
      3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCWEKWiZLYY
      4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpCv-38NVxw
      5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B47GPLlgnuA

      Reply to Comment
    6. Philos

      Ben Israel, is Israel a legal novelty or something? It must be the only country in the world where invoking “provocation” mitigates felony level violent offenses; provided you are provoking settlers, the police or the army otherwise you get charged with assault.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ben Israel,
      “Coordinated” harvests can’t happen if not approved. I suspect these harvests can be quite delayed that way. Try a test: what about coordinated Israeli settlers, done through an admittedly hostile entity, the PA. You would rage, would you not? But you are Jewish, so the symmetry is denied. I know not my racial origins very well. And I’ve become, watching these years, glad of that. I find myself now wishing I had had the ability to be a cosmologist or quantum theorist. Caring about people has left me with nothing. All they do is play in unending Super Bowls where people are hobbled or die.
      I do hope you are a single person, Ben Israel. The alternative of a corporate team would be so damn normal now.

      Reply to Comment
    8. AYLA

      @Ben Israel. Wow. You have built a fortress around your ideology. One of my dearest friends here, a daughter of a prominent Jerusalem Rabbi, is a member of the Sheikh Jarrah movement. She keeps shabbat, loves Israel, and demands justice in our name. Trust me, when she shows up to escort Palestinians to pick olives, she is not hoping for violence.
      In this week’s related news: According to Oxfam (the Union of Agricultural Work Committees), Israeli settlers have cost Palestinian farmers over $500,000 in 2011 alone by destroying olive trees in the West Bank. As a result, they estimate that olives collected this year will produce half the oil of the 2010 harvest. “Burning an olive tree is like burning a farmer’s bank account,” said Oxfam director Jeremy Hobbs.
      I would add: burning and olive tree is burning an olive tree.

      Reply to Comment
    9. AYLA

      @GregPollock–I’m so sorry to hear you having a moment of feeling that caring about people has left you with nothing. Please, I hope this is a fleeting feeling. What you wrote to BenIsrael (individual or team or both) on the Censorship thread had a deep effect on me. I’d imagine I am not alone. Often, usually, we cannot know the effects of our being.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ben Israel

      I was incorrect regarding the Sheikh Jarrah people’s involvement in this incident…they only publicized the video’s, but were not present. There is NO QUESTION that many of these incidents, particularly in the South Hevron Hills are geared to provoke violence and to show “the terrible settlers”. The IDF specifically has pointed this out (and recall there are many Leftists in the IDF and its officer corps).

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ayla,
      You’re honing (honning?) you language skills on this blog. Perhaps because the threads really don’t mean much, you can make what you say exact–there is no game to win or lose. Note that others must win each statement they make. That is their true weakness.
      I don’t know the answers. But I can tell when someone else doesn’t either. I admire where you live.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Just as a point of information here, Sefer Aish Kodesh was a book written by Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (1889–1943), the Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno, Poland. He authored the book in the Warsaw Ghetto and prior to the liquidation of the Ghetto he buried it in a canister. After the war found by a construction worker and published in 1960. Rabbi Shapira was shot in Trawniki concentration camp on November 3, 1943, along with all the other Jews there.

      Eish Kodesh Gilmore, named after Rabbi Shapira’s book, was working as a security guard at the Bituach Leumi office in East Jerusalem. On October 30, 2000 he was shot and killed by a terrorist while working there. He was 25 and left behind a wife and a one-year old daughter. The outpost of Eish Kodesh was established in his memory.

      There’s some kind of lesson in there about the cycle of violence and context but I’ll let others sort that out.

      Reply to Comment
    13. AYLA

      @GregPollock: thank you.

      Reply to Comment