Settlers breaking olive tree branches R 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The IDF is gearing up for violence that it predicts will break out over the
coming weeks between settlers and Palestinians with the beginning of the
olive-harvest season in the West Bank.
The olive harvest started on
Sunday with violent clashes that broke out between settlers and Palestinians
near the settlement of Itamar. Defense officials said that settlers from Itamar
and nearby settlements approached the fields and began clashing with the
To prevent additional violence, the IDF and the
Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria have increased their presence in
hotspots, particularly near the Yitzhar settlement outside Nablus.
recent weeks and ahead of the season, the civil administration mapped out the
different “hot spots” in the West Bank, where violence between settlers and
farmers was likely to erupt.
The civil administration has also scheduled
times for farmers to harvest their olive orchards and deploy troops to serve as
a buffer between the farmers and settlers. In addition, the civil administration
is providing OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi with daily updates on the
“There is minimal violence during times that are
coordinated ahead of time,” one officer explained on Tuesday.
begin when farmers begin harvesting without first coordinating with us and then
we are not there.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that groups
of settlers and right-wing activists which carry out so-called “price-tag”
attacks against Palestinians were operating “almost like terrorist
“These attacks are a disgrace for the State of Israel and
I am glad that settlement leaders have denounced these actions,” Barak said
during a tour of the Etzion Regional Brigade in the West Bank. “These are events
that we need to fight against since they not only disgrace Israel but they also
undermine the strength and legitimacy of the entire settlement
Referring to the Quartet’s initiative to renew peace talks
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Barak said that the government was
committed to renewing negotiations without preconditions.
“There is no
guarantee that this will bear fruit, but we have a responsibility to exhaust
every possibility so it will,” Barak said.