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Settlers attack olive harvesters, Israeli volunteers in West Bank village

Masked settlers uproot olive trees, set groves ablaze, and beat several Israeli volunteers with stones and metal rods in the West Bank village of Burin.

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai is evacuated from the village of Burin during an olive harvest after being attacked by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. (Rabbis for Human Rights)

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai is evacuated from the village of Burin during an olive harvest after being attacked by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. (Rabbis for Human Rights)

Masked men from the settlement of Yitzhar wielding metal rods and stones attacked volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights, a human rights organization based in Israel, while they were picking olives alongside Palestinian farmers in the West Bank village of Burin on Wednesday. According to a spokesperson for the organization, settlers set fire to the olive groves, causing a blaze that spread rapidly and burned for hours.

Israeli volunteers have for years aided Palestinians in the Nablus area with the olive harvest, largely to protect them from settler attacks, which are common. The attack that occurred on Wednesday afternoon was particularly violent: a group of masked men uprooted olive trees, set the grove ablaze, and beat several of the volunteers bloody.

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai, a member of Rabbis for Human Rights’ board, was taken to Meir Medical Center after suffering severe wounds. He recounted the incident while lying on a gurney in an ambulance, as medics bandaged his head. One of the masked youths had hit him on the head with an iron rod, while another instructed him to leave. “I told them to leave me alone, that I am 80 years old and cannot run,” he said.

Avi Dabush, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, said the incident highlighted the lawlessness in the West Bank, stressing that the volunteers would not be deterred from helping the Palestinian farmers as they harvest their olives. “For the last 17 years we have helped with the harvest, and we will continue to stand up against violent bullies,” he said, adding that this was the only way toward a peaceful joint future between Jews and Arabs living on the land.



AFP reported that Israel sent fire extinguishing planes to extinguish the fire set by the settlers. Researchers for Israeli human rights group Yesh Din estimate that the blaze consumed hundreds of acres of farmland in Burin and Huwara, both villages in the Nablus area.

The Rabbis for Human Rights spokesperson said that a group of settlers had threatened the farmers earlier in the week, threatening to beat them and vandalize their crops. The army has failed to protect the farmers from settler attacks, he noted. Israel’s occupation policies often prevent Palestinians from accessing their own lands, while violent settlers are allowed to roam freely.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, residents of the village of Deir Ammar woke up to discover that unknown vandals, most likely settlers from nearby outposts, had slashed tires and spray-painted Hebrew slogans and Stars of David on their homes and on their cars.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Bruce Gould

      Hasbara Services would like to provide you with pre-packaged Hasbara for these kinds of stories so YOU don’t have to worry! Free samples:

      -The Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492
      -Palestinians burned down someone’s farm in 1920
      -Olympic murders
      -Ancestral homelands, we can burn down anything we want!

      Reply to Comment
      • Amir

        @Bruce Gould, don’t forget

        – 2 million jews have been quicked from Arab countries 🙂

        Reply to Comment
        • David


          Yehouda Shenhav, of Iraqi Jewish heritage and professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University: “Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi [Arab] Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine….Those who left did not do so of their own volition. In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations.” (Ha’aretz, 8 October 2004.)

          Avi Shlaim, born into an affluent and influential family in Baghdad: “We are not refugees, nobody expelled us from Iraq, nobody told us that we were unwanted. But we are the victims of the Israeli-Arab conflict.” (Ha’aretz, August 11, 2005) Shlaim is referring to the well documented acts of terror, including bombings of synagogues and Jewish owned businesses, carried out by “The Movement,” a Jewish/Zionist terrorist group controlled by Israel, whose purpose was to instil fear in Iraqi Jews and motivate them to immigrate to Israel.

          The U.S. State Department was also well aware of what Israeli agents had done in Iraq to precipitate Jewish emigration: “When [in August 1951] Israel undertook a campaign to get Iranian Jews to immigrate to Israel, the director of the office of Near Eastern affairs in the U.S. Department of State, G. Lewis Jones, told Teddy Kolleck, of Israel’s embassy in Washington, that the United States ‘would not favour a deliberately generated exodus there,’ as he put it, ‘along the lines of the ingathering from Iraq.’ Kolleck justified Israel’s Iraq operation as beneficial for Iraq, stating it was ‘better for a country to be homogeneous.'” (“Memorandum of Conversation by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Jones),” August 2, 1951, Foreign Relations of the United States 1951, vol. 6 p. 813, at p. 815 (1982)

          Needless to say, any Jew of Arab origin who feels he or she has a legitimate grievance against an Arab country should pursue it through international law. The bottom line, however, is that while Palestinians were expelled from their homeland by Jewish militias and the IDF, they played no role whatsoever in the emigration of or any ill treatment and or loss of assets that Jews of Arab origin may have experienced in their former homelands. The two cases are separate and distinct, i.e., apples and oranges.

          Reply to Comment
      • Itshak Gordin

        You forget that there has never been in History any Arabe “Palestinian” state and that nobody heard about the “Palestinian people” before the sixteen. You also forgot to mention the massacre of Hebron Jews in 1929.

        Reply to Comment
        • David

          Sigh. If ignorance is bliss, you must be very happy.
          To be brief:
          The region between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea was referred to as “Palestine” by the Greek historian Herodotus (“the father of history”) during the 5th century BCE.

          100 years later, in the mid-4th Century BCE, Aristotle referred to Palestine while discussing the Dead Sea in his Meteorology. “Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine….”

          Jewish historian Josephus’s (c.37-100 CE) The Jewish War, Antiquities of the Jews contains many references to both “Palestine” and “Palestinians.”

          Contemporaries of Jesus also routinely referred to Palestine as “Palestine.” In the first decade of the 1st Century, the Roman poet Ovid mentioned Palestine in both his famed mythological poem “Metamorphoses” and his erotic elegy “The Art of Love.” He also wrote of “the waters of Palestine” in his calendrical poem “Fasti.” Around the same time, Tibullus, another Latin poet, wrote of “the crowded cities of Palestine” in the section “Messalla’s Triumph” in his poem “Delia.”

          The Zionist claim that the Roman emperor Hadrian officially changed the name of the region to “Syria Palaestina” or simply “Palestine,” in 135 CE is contradicted by the fact that by then, the term “Palestine” had already been in use for over 600 years.

          To quote the opening sentence of the section entitled “Filastin” (i.e., Palestine, no “P” in Arabic) that appears in the book “Dictionary of the Lands,” written by geographer Yaqut ibn Abdullah al-Hamawi in 1225: “Filastin: It is the last one of the regions of Syria in the direction of Egypt. Its most famous cities are Ashkelon, Ramle, Gaza, Arsuf, Caesaria, Nablus, Jericho, Jaffa and Beit Guvrin.”

          By about 1300 CE there were virtually no Jews in Palestine, which was a recognized geographical concept using coinage with “Filistin” written on them. There were diaries of Palestinian travelers who said they missed “Palestine” and a distinctive Palestinian dialect of Arabic had evolved. From 1300 on, the vast majority of people who lived in Palestine were Christians and Muslims.

          In 1863, The Religious Tract Society of London published its “Pictorial Journey Through the Holy Land; or Scenes of Palestine.” In this work Beersheba is described as the southern limit of Palestine. “Beersheba lies south-east of Gaza on the northern edge of the Negev desert.’ Palestine is described as “south of Lebanon.”

          European tourist books of the nineteenth century refer to “Palestine,” as did Theodor Herzl in his correspondence and the 1917 Balfour Declaration as well as the 1922 Class A League of Nations British Mandate.

          Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            That’s what I wrote: there has never been an Arab state of “Palestine” in history. Similarly, no one heard of a “Palestinian people” before the 1960s. The Roman word Palestine was given by the Roman conquerors after their conquest of this region following the defeat of the kingdom of Judah. But it has nothing to do with any “Palestinian people”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            They’d certainly heard of the people of Palestine, actual humans who have lived there for generations and far longer than you have. Your inveterate frank racism prevents you from acknowledging this. And whether you acknowledge it or not, your incessant delegitimist nattering about the Palestinian people, a kind of verbal tic and settler talking point of yours, really is beside the point, carries none of the implications you settlers give it in your mind.

            Come to think of it there are two other things no one ever heard of:

            1. They never heard of “an Israeli people” because Israel insists on having a race-based state that denies Israeli nationality exists, it’s all about who is a Jew and who is not.

            2. They never heard of “the Jewish people” in the hyper-nationalistic, land-married, land-worshiping, lebensraum-grabbing, Israel-equated, bug-eyed crazed Third Temple-zealous meaning you have in mind about “the Jewish people,” for whom living outside “The Land” and opposing the occupation means in our mind that those members of “the Jewish people” are “pseudo-Jews.” This “Jewish people” you concoct never have existed and do not exist now. An extremist settler sect exists among the Jewish people. You have tried to expand that sect to encompass everything, but it will not fly.

            Reply to Comment
    2. itshak Gordine

      We must condemn all forms of violence, including that of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, which has caused thousands of deaths among the Israeli population.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Put your money where your mouth is and pull out of your violent settlement and condemn the organized violence of the occupation. Until you do that the treacly hypocrisy and bad faith you are showing might as well be in neon flashing lights with horns blaring.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      “Peled also described the horrors of occupation on the West Bank. Palestinians are caught between the settlers– “a rabidly zealous violent people, a society that is so fanatic and so violent that it’s hard to really express in words. You have to see it to believe it. Including their children, I’ve never seen children like this in my life” — and the Israeli military that sides with the settlers.”

      Reply to Comment
    4. itshak Gordine

      Here is a video of Christian volunteers who harvest in Samaria. Very moving. They asked permission and everything happened in a spirit of peace and love. This changes us leftists of good families who behave as enemies of the Jewish people.


      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “They asked permission and everything happened in a spirit of peace and love.”

        This sentence encapsulates perfectly the Orwellian dishonesty of occupation hasbarists.

        “This changes us leftists of good families who behave as enemies of the Jewish people.”

        This is not a coherent statement, whatever you were trying to say. But how do the Christians get worked into this? As you know, the smiling Christians think that you and me both ultimately end up in “Hell” for eternity. I’m not kidding. For this reason I suggest you regard them as “fair weather friends” because when The Rapture cometh, or whatever, they are planning to pretend they don’t know you. I know, they’re your useful fools, you don’t care. They think the same of you. But this is the kind of sleazy arrangement you and they got going on.

        Reply to Comment
        • itshak Gordine

          These Christians of course have their convictions and we have ours. They help us and that’s fine. We prefer them to pseudo-Jews from abroad who have made an alliance with our enemies who want to destroy us. Listen to the speeches of the negationist Mahmoud Abbas that Jews are not entitled to the State of Israel. Are you quoting Orwell again? This is your only reading?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Are you quoting Orwell again?”

            Your constant misuse of language compels it. In case you missed the point. You are like an American who is constantly botching French cooking, repeatedly misusing ingredients, acting aggrieved and saying “Are you quoting Julia Child again?” In Scientology parlance, Orwell and I are “suppressive persons” (“SP’s”), to be shunned at all costs.

            Reply to Comment