Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Illegal Israeli settlers uproot Palestinian olive tree


By Matt Matthews - October 22, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Olive Trees] [Hebron] [Settlers attacks]

The well-documented obstruction of the Palestinian olive harvest by Israeli settlers took a faintly ridiculous turn this week, as one farmer spotted illegal colonizers stealing an entire olive tree from his land.

Like many residents of Hebron, Raid Abu Saleh lives under constant threat of harassment and assault from his heavily-armed, ultra-Zionist neighbors.

“It was about 11 in the morning,” he recounts, pointing to the perimeter of his land from within his modest grove of olive trees. “Three settlers came and they dug up one of my trees, and continued moving.”

Raid says he was unable to do anything but snap a series of pictures: “Of course I didn’t try to stop them. I was alone, and there were three of them, with their guns. Put yourself in my place.”

The photos provided to the Palestine Monitor show a group of three male settlers, identifiable by their white shirts and kippahs, as well as by their mere presence in the Israeli-controlled H2 zone of the city.


The view over Hebron's bitterly contested H2 sector from Raid's olive grove.

Making their way from Raid’s land towards the barbed-wire perimeter of their home, the photos show two of the men are sharing the weight of what does indeed appear to be a sapling olive tree.

Actions like stealing a single olive tree seem almost petty in their victimization of Palestinians, but Raid places this violation of his property in the context of more serious crimes.

“They’re not children,” he says vehemently. “Everything they do is serious, everything they do is planned. The Israeli government wants to dominate this whole area, to make it theirs.”
 

Raid's photo, allegedly showing settlers stealing his olive tree

The Hebron settlers have a particular reputation for personal attacks on the indigenous farmers and city residents, pelting them with soiled nappies, used toilet paper, and urine.

More seriously, they are responsible for what human rights organization Bt’Selem calls “almost daily physical violence and property damage” in the West Bank’s largest city. As Raid says, “these aren’t even normal settlers.”

Admot Yishai settlement, which houses far-right extremist families under the protection of an entire company of the Israeli Forces, is just yards from Raid’s home on the top of Tel Rumeida hill. Napalm bombings, lethal shootings and the stoning of Palestinian school-children have all occurred around the settlement, with Israeli soldiers regularly storming through Raid’s copse of 16 trees.

Raid is a native of Hebron, and as a child studied in a school which has now been taken over by the settlers. He says this harassment has been an annual occurrence all his life.

“So many times when we are harvesting the olives, they come and they try to steal the bags, to attack the trees,” he continues. “So if you want to pick your own olives, you have to sneak like a thief on your own land.”

Not only an invaluable source of fruit and oil for his family, Raid’s olive trees are also a symbol of resistance to the smothering presence of fanatical colonisers in the heart of his city.
 

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