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PHOTOS: Palestinians watch harvest season disappear before their eyes

In the village of Salem, as elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians are forced to harvest their olives according to the whims and restrictions of Israeli authorities.

Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. Palestinian farmers who have olive groves near Israeli settlements, army bases or bypass roads are restricted in their access to their land. This year, Salem villagers were allowed to harvest their land for only five days.

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. Palestinian farmers who have olive groves near Israeli settlements, army bases or bypass roads are restricted in their access to their land. This year, Salem villagers were allowed to harvest their land for only five days. (photo: Activestills.org)

As every year in October, Palestinian families in the West Bank head to their groves in order to begin the olive harvest season. The harvest for any given family might take a few days or several weeks depending on the number of olive trees they have.

In the village of Salem, near Nablus, the daily olive harvest routine is for families to go out at 6:00 in the morning and work until sunset. All family members participate in the harvest, from children to the elderly.  The families that have groves near their houses and far from settlements can work freely. Families that have groves near Israeli settlements, military bases or bypass roads can only harvest according to a schedule imposed by Israeli authorities.

This year, Israeli authorities gave only five days to Salem residents who have lands behind the Israeli bypass road and nearby settlement outposts of Elon Moreh. These families have to finish their harvest in this limited time regardless of their number of olive trees.

Some families decided to start harvesting on the days before those dictated by the Israeli authorities’ schedule in order to be able to finish all of their trees. Some succeeded, while others were caught by Israeli authorities and forced to stop working and leave their land. At the same time, other residents said that soldiers forced them to stop the harvest at noon even on days that were supposed to be allowed according to the schedule.

In areas such as these, Israeli authorities allow these farmers to reach their lands only two times per year: Once in April for tilling soil, and again in October for the olive harvest. After months of being prevented from reaching their land, farmers might discover new problems. Some reported that they found dozens of damaged olive trees, which they assume were vandalized by Israeli settlers. Others have discovered new settlement outposts being built nearby. The growth of settlements can mean increased movement restrictions in years to come.

In recent years, the olive harvest has become a time of increased violence by Israeli settlers toward Palestinian residents and their trees. A Palestinian woman harvesting olives in the village of Kfar Yassuf near Nablus was hospitalized earlier this week after being beaten with a stick in a case in which two Israeli settlers were arrested, one of them a minor. But such arrests are the exception. According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, violence against Palestinians and their property during olive harvest season and throughout the year is rarely investigated. Of the 246 files opened by Israeli police in the West Bank monitored by Yesh Din, just four led to indictments, with 223 files closed due to investigative failures. This 96.6 percent failure rate, according to Yesh Din, shows that the ability of Israeli authorities “to identify and prosecute offenders involved in deliberate damage to Palestinian trees is particularly poor, and effectively almost non-existent.”

Farmers head to their lands in the early morning hours to harvest olives, Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 10, 2014.

Farmers head to their lands in the early morning hours to harvest olives, Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 10, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian rides a donkey toward olive groves in the early morning hours before the harvest.

A Palestinian rides a donkey toward olive groves in the early morning hours before the harvest. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian family crosses an Israeli bypass road as they head towards their lands for the olive harvest, in Salem village, West Bank, October 8, 2014. Farmers who have groves behind this Israeli bypass road are allowed to enter their lands twice a year: once during olive harvest season and again for tilling soil in April.

A Palestinian family crosses an Israeli bypass road as they head towards their lands for the olive harvest, in Salem village, West Bank, October 8, 2014. Farmers who have groves behind this Israeli bypass road are allowed to enter their lands twice a year: once during olive harvest season and again for tilling soil in April. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian man harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A Palestinian man harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A new Israeli settlement outpost is seen near Palestinian olive groves in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A new Israeli settlement outpost is seen near Palestinian olive groves in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

An Israeli soldier watches a Palestinian woman while she harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

An Israeli soldier watches a Palestinian woman while she harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian child holds freshly harvested olives, Salem, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A Palestinian child holds freshly harvested olives, Salem, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Related:
PHOTOS: A state-sanctioned ‘price tag’ on Palestinian olive trees
Settler violence: Think of it like burning down a Jewish business

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    COMMENTS

    1. Joel

      Looks like the IDF is protecting the harvesters from settlers. No?

      Reply to Comment
      • If that were the case, they’d look in the opposite direction, yes? 😉

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          No. Not if there were no settlers at the harvest site.

          If there were any settlers present, than I’m sure our friends at ActiveStills would have captured them.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      “This year, Israeli authorities gave only five days to Salem residents who have lands behind the Israeli bypass road and nearby settlement outposts of Elon Moreh. These families have to finish their harvest in this limited time regardless of their number of olive trees.”

      Reply to Comment
    3. Pedro X

      Active stills, of course ignores the number of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank which provokes a response from some members of communities in the West Bank.

      UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, the paper said 2013 saw 399 attacks on Palestinians and Palestinian property.

      Shin Bet reported 1271 terrorist attacks against Israelis by Palestinians originating in the West Bank.

      Six Israelis were killed in these attacks. The members of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria killed no Palestinians in 2013.

      Active stills also ignores the practice of the Palestinians to damage their own olive trees or property and blame it on Israelis. Active Stills also ignores that the Israel army often accompanies Palestinians to protect them. the Palestinians promote violence against Israelis in their schools, media, in their financial support of jailed terrorists and in their commemoration of terrorist attacks.

      Reply to Comment
      • Josh

        “Active stills, of course ignores the number of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank which provokes a response from some members of communities in the West Bank.”

        These “communities” like you call it, are actually occupiers of Palestinian’s land, and therefore the occupied indigenious people have every right to attack the land thiefs.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          While you are at it – calling for violence and murder of Jews, always watch the skies, because you never know from whence the SkyHawks will emerge and take what is rightfully theirs. Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi (Abdel Aziz Ali Abdul Majid al-Rantisi) et al. learnt that lesson after it was already toooo late and the SkyHawks dived in, grabed them and took them away. Today they are no more. Not a pretty stuff to watch. Don’t repeat the same folly, dude.

          Reply to Comment
      • Jan

        Each and every settler in the West Bank is living in a settlement deemed illegal under international law. The Palestinians have every right to stand up for their rights and to do whatever necessary to send those illegal settlers flying back over the Green Line.

        But this won’t happen. Israel long ago determined to take over the West Bank, to destroy the Palestinian economy, to build more and more of their illegal settlements and to surround Palestinian lands and towns with these horrible racist settlements. I see no reason in the light of this vile land grab for Palestinians to be peaceful. It is truly amazing that so many Palestinians have not done more against the illegal settlers.

        I wonder how many Jewish Israelis would stand by as their land was stolen, the agriculture destroyed, their homes demolished. Few indeed, I bet.

        So don’t blame those Palestinians who have stood up for their rights even when those rights threaten the illegal settlers who do not belong on the West Bank at all, especially when they live on stolen land and use stolen water.

        As for teaching hate, Jewish children have been indoctrinated with hate against the Palestinians for generations. As far back as the later 1950s, long before suicide bombings, a poll was taken of Jewish school children. They were asked what should be done with the Arabs. 95% responded that they should be murdered and the remaining 5 % thought they should be in concentraton camps.

        Read up on the treatment of the Arabs of Palestine after 1948 and if you have a conscience, you will be sickened. Israeli born Shira Robinson in her new book, Citizen Strangers, relates how Jews treated Arabs. As a Jew, who knew little of this, I was not only horrified but totally disgusted.

        Reply to Comment
        • tom

          UN resolution 242 gives Israel the legal right to administer the disputed territorys.the settlements are there to protect Israel from being attacked by Palestinian people.in the 1950s I’m sure they hated arabs after the whe middle east attacked them in 1948

          Reply to Comment
          • Jan

            I wonder where in 242 you can find the words giving Israel the right to the land and to settlements. What you need to read is the preamble to 242 which states the following: “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquistion of territory by war…” Israel is occupying the land and stealing the land because of war. That is inadmissible.

            As for the settlements they have been deliberately placed so as to preclude any uniting of the Palestinians of the West Bank. Furthermore under international law and the Geneva Accords to which Israel is a signatory, each and every settlement is illegal. Get that Tom? ILLEGAL!

            Reply to Comment
        • Margot Dunne

          Bravo, Jan – I admire your honesty & compassion. I have visited the West Bank 3 times, & have seen what goes on. You only have to walk in the little streets of Hebron to be sickened by the fact that the Palestinians must protect themselves with wire mesh from the hard rubbish thrown at them by the illegal settlers dwelling above. But Israeli behaviour will never alter, nor will that of the cheering Zionist diaspora, until attitudes in the US change for the good, & the US refuses to sponsor Israel’s disgraceful actions. I don’t think that this will happen any time soon. Regarding the book you mention, Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is an eye-opening read too. Best wishes!

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            There is no courage in calling for violence and murder. Every imbecile can do that. In fact that’s what Hamas and ISIS/ISIL are doing as we speak, while on a murderous and genocidal rampage. That’s also what you and Jan are calling for. “Palestinians” know the price for murder of Jews. Woe unto them if they take advice from lunatics such as yourself and Jan. You & your ilk claim to be the Gandhis of our time, yada, yada, yada, while calling for murder and mayhem. The stench of your hypocrisy is indeed deadly.

            Reply to Comment
          • Justine Toujours

            Palestinians have been living continuously in Palestine for thousands of years, as documented in history,by the Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius, in the year 313 AD. These people are the indigenous who over time, converted to Judaism, Christianism and later Islam. Israel was created on Palestinian land, hundreds of villages were ethnically cleansed even the name of the villages were changed. It was a deliberate act to obliterate Palestinian heritage and to fabricate a false Jewish history in its place. The only one who is regurgitating garbage is you Ginger Eis, the Palestinians have been waiting for a solution for their plight for seventy years, they have been oppressed by one of the most barbaric and violent regimes in the world, they get slaughtered by the thousands, every year, at the hand of the Israeli army. It is time for you people, devoid of all compassion, to give the Palestinian people their land, their freedom, their total rights and compensation for what you put them through for a century now.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            hihi hihi hihi Palestinians have been living continuously in Palestine for thousands of years hihi hihi, as documented in history,by the Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius, in the year 313 AD hihi hihi hihi These people are the indigenous who over time, converted to Judaism, Christianism and later Islam hihi hihi hehe hihi. Israel was created on Palestinian land, hundreds of villages were ethnically cleansed even the name of the villages were changed hihi hihi hih hehe hehe It was a deliberate act to obliterate Palestinian heritage hehe hehe hehe hihi and to fabricate a false Jewish history in its place hihi hihi hihi. What imbeciles these hatemongers are! Go play with folks of your own feather and class and be gone now, jackass!

            Reply to Comment
          • Justine Toujours

            The only hatemonger is you, psychopathic Ginger Eis, “be gone now”?? Is that what you do to people who confront you and your likes with the truth? And if I don’t, will you come after me and kill me to silence me, as you always do to those people you steal their land, loot their houses and erase their history. No one is going anywhere, the criminals have to face war crimes courts and justice will be served. I do not advocate any hate or violence in any shape or form, but I do feel with the victims of the brutal and violent Israeli regime,so do 43 IDF reservists and former army intelligence members who denounced Israeli high crimes against peace. They condemned longstanding collective punishment. They henceforth refuse to serve. They want no part of Israel’s killing machine. It is about time to give the land back to its rightful owners, you who do not like it, bad luck for you. Period!

            Reply to Comment
          • Jan

            hihi hihi hihi to you Ginger. You refuse to recognize facts and that is your problem. Get your head out of the sand where it has been buried for years.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jan

            Ginger, had you been in Palestine when the Jewish terrorist groups were killing the British occupiers, none of whom were stealing land as are the Jewish occupiers of the West Bank, would you have supported the Jewish terrorists of the Irgun and Stern Gang? Most likely you might have hidden bombs and other weapons for them in your home or in schools as they did. Perhaps you would have been involved in the bombing of the King David Hotel or the assassination of UN representative Count Folke Bernadotte. At the very least you likely would have applauded those acts of terrorism.

            Would you have supported the Irgun and Stern Gang when they murdered innocent Arabs by placing bomb laden donkeys in Arab markets and blowing up Arab theaters? Of course you would have and might have helped them as well.

            This damned occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people must end. Tell me, Ginger dear, what would you do if you were being oppressed as are the Palestinians? Perhaps you might pick up a rock or a stone and let it fly. Or maybe you would pick up something even more lethal.

            I don’t want anyone killed or injured but as long as this occupation continues people will be hurt and killed. You can’t oppress a people forever and not face some unwanted consequences. In fact I find it quite amazing that more Palestinians have not taken up stronger resistance to their oppression.

            By the way Ginger dear, I am not a man. I am a woman, a mother and a grandmother and the great granddaughter of a rabbi. There was a time when I strongly supported Israel. Then some years later when I got educated and learned about the ethnic cleansing, the land theft, the looting, the theft of land from many of the Arabs who remained, the killing of ethnically cleansed Palestinians who tried to come back, the destruction of some 500 Palestinian villages etc. I could no longer support Israel. I wish that I could but I was brought up to believe in human rights for ALL people, not just my tribe. I was brought up to believe that no group has the right to oppress another group, in effect to do what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. That is what I have taught my children and grandchildren and I hope that my grandchildren teach their children the same one day.

            I also hope that one day Jews and Palestinians will live in peace but that day will not come until the Israeli jackboot is lifted from the neck of the Palestinians and the oppression and occupation end.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Marvelous, dignified statement Jan. Quietly cuts through all the nonsense by the shouters here.

            Reply to Comment
          • Margot Dunne

            Just where did I call for violence & murder? Nowhere. What I am calling for is justice. If I am a hypocritical lunatic because I call for justice, then I wear those words with pride.

            Reply to Comment
        • Kent

          The settlements are not just illegal, but under international law are a grave breach of the 4th Geneva convention. All grave breaches are defined as war crimes, and not subject to any statute of limitations. This makes the settlers themselves, and those who aid them, war criminals. This does not justify individuals taking the law into their own hands either.

          Reply to Comment
      • Justine Toujours

        Pedro, Spreading lies is not smart when facts can be checked on:http://www.ochaopt.org/documents

        You have to remember that the Palestinians, have not one plane, not one tanker not one machine gun. These people and their land, have been occupied by a brutal and barbaric Israeli regime. Their land has been confiscated and they were made refugees for now almost seventy years. None of these, poverty stricken farmers, who endure oppression and violence every time they tend to their crops, would burn their only source of livelihood. You are spreading lies in a weak attempt to deviate the attention from the violence and crimes of the illegal settlers of Palestine. The Israeli army’s presence in the occupied territories is only to watch and protect the settlers. In your own words you say that the IDF is protecting Palestinians, why would they do that if it was not because of continuous attacks and violence perpetrated by the illegal Israeli settlers against the Palestinians. Peace will be embraced if Israel/Palestine becomes a democracy with all its citizens, whatever their religion, enjoy freedom and equal rights. Get it ???

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Lie? I refer you to page 2 of OCHA report of January 24-20, 2014 in which OCHA indicated the number of attacks by members of communities in Judea and Samaria. The number of attacks (including graffiti scrawls and property damage)by those members were 399, while Palestinians in the West Bank carried out 1271 attacks according to the reports of Shin Bet.

          In addition Hatzalah recorded there were 5,144 rock attacks by Palestinians against members of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria in just the first 6 months of 2013. Arsons and throwing of Molotov cocktails against members of the Jewish Communities even in Jerusalem usually go unmentioned.

          In 2012 Israel formed a special police team to combat illegal attacks by members of the communities on Arabs in the West Bank while Arabs and supporters like you condone and encourage attacks on innocent citizens because they happen to be Jewish.

          It was the Jews who were ethnically cleansed by the Arabs from Judea and Samaria in the 1948 war. When Israel liberated the West Bank, it did the opposite of the Arabs, it invited back the Arabs who had fled the fighting in the 1967 war to return to the West Bank. Israel offered peace while the Arabs gave their infamous three nos, no peace, no recognition and no negotiations. The Arabs promised to prepare for and wage war which they did first by a war of attrition and terrorism and then by the 1973 Yom Kippur War followed by another 41 years of terrorism.

          In 1978 the Palestinian Arabs again avoided peace choosing terrorism when the Palestinians would not join the 1978 Camp David peace talks with Israel and Egypt. Three times since the Palestinians have turned down offers three times for their state. Each time they have responded with terrorism.

          Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            The date of the report should have read January 14-20, 2014 and not 24-20, 2014.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Brian

      Jan, excellent comment. It’s interesting to me how the right wing trollery is at a minimum in response to this article. When they can keep it to abstract talking points they’re off and running. But confront them with real human beings suffering and they have no stock answer. I want to say they’re shamed by what this article documents but that is wishful thinking on my part.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        They who live by the sword shall perish by the sword – said one of the greatest Jewish scholars that ever lived, i.e. the one you guys call Jesus Christ. Palestinians understand that and I am sure none of them want to turn Judea & Samaria into Gaza. Cast Lead and Protective Edge already told them all they needed to know. More concrete than that, it can’t get. Jan’s rant is not new. Indeed, he has been regurgitating the same garbage since the beginning of this year and those who have come to know him as a man full of chaotic raw emotions and no substance just ignore him. Not every noise is what a response.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Very geheimpolizeilich of you. Is this another visit from the Jewish Secret Police? No one has any intention of ignoring Jan. You’re ridiculous. Utterly.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            You see, Brian, I have no intention whatsoever to to engage in mudslinging with your ilk (I gather from your exchanges with others that you enjoy mud and the gutter a lot), but I will tell you this: if YOU and Jan have any form of manly courage in you, you should at the very least PERSONALLY lead Palestinians “do whatever necessary to send those illegal settlers flying back over the Green Line”! It is not enough to cowardly instigate Palestinians from behind computer screen in a quiet suburb of Western cities to murder of Israeli Jews and pay the ultimate price in doing so. Men of courage and valor match their words with actions. So, I demand both of you to practice what you preach; don’t instigate others, come instead and fight yourselves. We won’t even need your fellow men to put you in your place. The Lionesses Of Zion will get the job well done!

            Watch

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CQcflwGnyA

            Scared, Brian?

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            You remind me of Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes. (That makes me Colonel Hogan.) We could get Pedro or Gustav to play Sergeant Schultz. “Ja wohl, mein Kommandant!”

            Reply to Comment
          • Aluf

            Hilarious!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Jan

            Just in case you missed it, Ginger dear, I do not have manly courage because I am not a man. I am a woman, a woman who believes in human rights for all people, not just for my Jewish tribe. I believe that no people should live under oppression and occupation as Israel has forced the Palestinians to live.

            I would prefer that the Palestinians only use non-violent resistance to their occupation and oppression but it is not me that is living under the jackboot of a army of oppression. It is not me having my home demolished or my trees destroyed or my lands confiscated for more illegal settlements or for roads on which I can not travel. Members of my family are not rotting away in administrative detention for years in an Israeli gulag. My children are not being stoned by illegal vile settlers when they to to school. No one stopped me at a checkpoint when I went into labor so that I could not get to a hospital to deliver my babies and had instead to deliver them on the ground at the checkpoint. No one has kept me or any of my family from going to a hospital even when the occupier has given me a permit. I don’t live under the terrrible occupation so I don’t have the right to tell the Palestinians what to do. They have lived for over 47 years under your jackboot and I find that wicked and evil. If the situation were reversed and Jews were living under the same vile conditions as the Palestinians I would also find that wicked and evil. Occupation and oppression are wicked and evil no matter the perpetrator.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Average American

      Why shouldn’t Jews control harvest? Jews already control water, travel, law, market prices, shipping. It’s The Jewish State after all. And they are The Jews. You should bow your head to them and spread rose petals in front of their feet. Who do you think you are compared to The Jews?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Brian

      Jan,

      Re: Your statement of October 20th, above, that begins “Ginger, had you been in Palestine when….”

      Marvelous, dignified statement. Quietly cuts through all the nonsense by the shouters here.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jan

        Thanks Brian – I try but it is so frustrating dealing with people like Ginger and Pedro who have for far too long buried their heads in the sand and will not condemn what they would condemn were it being done to them and to othe Jews.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Yeah you come to realize that these forums are not about discussion–there is no rational conversation to be had–its more like anthropological observation.

          Reply to Comment
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