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Israel forces expel Nablus area farmers from lands while picking olives, detain 1

Oct. 28, 2016 6:34 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 30, 2016 6:11 P.M.)
Seventy-year-old Palestinian farmer Abbas Youssef points towards his olive trees, which are bearing their annual fruit, on land either side of an Israeli settlement in the northern occupied West Bank, in the village of al-Janiya west of Ramallah on Oct. 28, 2014. (AFP/Abbas Momani, File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a Palestinian farmer on Friday afternoon, shortly after expelling several others from their lands while picking olives in the Nablus district of the northern occupied West Bank.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli forces expelled the farmers while picking olives on their agricultural lands in the village of Qusin, west of Nablus.

Daghlas added that Israeli forces detained one farmer, and identified him as 45-year-old Radwan Mutlaq Abu Laila.

It remained unclear as to why Abu Laila was detained, or if he had since been released from Israeli custody.

Separately, Israeli forces closed the Huwwara checkpoint in southern Nablus on Friday afternoon for a march that was being held by Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Yitzhar settlement.

Israeli forces prevented dozens of Palestinians from entering the town of Beita -- whose main entrance is located at the Huwwara junction -- as the settlers protested the "vandalism" of large cinder blocks on the settlement's property, which they said were spray painted by local Palestinian youths.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of both the expulsion and detention of the farmers, as well as the protests and road closures at Huwwara.

Graffiti on Yitzhar settlement
Graffiti on Yitzhar settlement

Most recently, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians, ages 17 and 20, on Tuesday as the youths were en route to pick olives in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya.

Murad Shtewei, coordinator of a local popular resistance committee, told Ma’an at the time that the two youths were stopped by Israeli forces on their way to go olive picking and were held for several hours before being transferred to an unknown location.

Oct. 22 marked the first day since the start of the olive-picking season in the occupied territory that Israeli forces were permitting Palestinians from Kafr Qaddum to harvest their olive trees near the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim.

The start of the olive harvest this year has been marked by several incidents of such detentions, as well attacks on Palestinian farmers and their families by Israeli settlers, particularly in the northern Nablus and Qalqiliya districts.

Two weeks ago, dozens of extremist Israeli settlers harassed Palestinian families who were picking olives on their private lands west of Nablus city.

Daghlas told Ma'an at the time that settlers from the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Gilad “attacked” different families from the villages of Jit and Farata in the Qalqiliya district, and Sarra in the Nablus district -- all located just south of the outpost.

One week prior to that incident, a number of settlers from the illegal Eli settlement attacked Sahir Mousa and his family while they were picking olives on their land in the outskirts of the Nablus-area village of Qaryut, which is just a few kilometers away from the settlement.

"They arrived carrying hatchets and other sharp tools and forced the family to return home and completely damaged their car," Daghlas said regarding that attack.

On Oct. 4, a group of Israeli settlers’ children escorted by Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian family harvesting olives in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces, who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, along with Israeli rights group B’Tselem, have previously condemned Israeli authorities for failing to protect Palestinians from settlers violence or investigate attacks, particularly during olive harvest season, when incidents of attacks on harvesters and their olive groves have been a near daily occurrence in past years.

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