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Israeli settlers steal olive harvest, attack Palestinian farmers in West Bank

Oct. 16, 2017 6:13 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 6:45 P.M.)
Photo of settlers stealing olives on Oct. 15
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Sunday stole olive pickings from dozens of trees belonging to Palestinian farmers from the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Nablus.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlements activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers raided Palestinian lands in Ramallah and Nablus under protection of armed Israeli forces, and stole olives from dozens of Palestinian trees.

Daghlas told Ma'an that Israeli settlers stole the pickings of more than 65 olive trees in the Nablus-area village of al-Sawiyeh and the Ramallah-area village of al-Janiyeh.

Meanwhile, NGO Rabbis For Human Rights (RHR) released a statement saying that the settlers, from the illegal Zayit Raanan outpost, were arrested by Israeli security forces “following the swift intervention of the head of the field department of Rabbis for Human Rights, Zakaria Sadah, who informed the security forces.”

In another incident, also on Sunday, Palestinian farmers from the Nablus-area village of Qaryut were attacked by settlers. RHR said that Israeli security forces arrived at the scene and apprehended the assailants.

“It is a relatively unusual day where the security forces manage to arrest extremist Israeli lawbreakers in two incidents against West Bank Palestinians,” RHR said, adding that “violations against Palestinian farmers are not properly addressed by the Israeli security and/or law enforcement authorities.”

“The arrests on October 15th demonstrate that the Israeli security forces do indeed should they want to – have the capacity to act against hate crimes,” the statement concluded.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.

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.

The majority of settler attacks committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely facing consequences for such attacks.

Only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction, while 95.6 percent of investigations of damage to olive trees are closed due to failures of Israeli police, according to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

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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