(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Dozens of settlers clashed with Palestinians picking olives near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Sunday morning.
The violent confrontation between the settlers of the nearby settlement of Yitzhar and the Palestinians who were joined by activists from the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights, was stopped by Israel Defense Force troops.
The IDF’s Spokesman’s Unit said that the Palestinians had been harvesting olives and had coordinated their activity with Israeli security forces in advance.
Rabbis for Human rights claims that the settlers attacked the security forces and started a fire in the orchard.
Uriah Cohen, the head of Yitzhar's secretariat, told the Israeli news site Arutz 7 that “every year the leftist organizations increase pressure on the security establishment to allow a harvest very close to the houses of the community, and this time they reached an area that is clearly not an agricultural area, a very small distance from the homes of the community."
According to Cohen, "So many infiltration attacks in our communities have taken place during the so-called 'olive harvest' and unfortunately it seems that the security establishment is yielding to the unacceptable and dangerous pressure of extreme leftist organizations."
Over the past few years confrontations between settlers and Palestinians harvesting olives have become a regular occurrence. Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Yesh Din have in the past condemned Israeli security forces of failing to protect Palestinian harvesters from violence by settlers.