olive harvesters 224 88 .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Settlers and Palestinain olive harvesters clashed Thursday morning near the West Bank community of Shvut Rahel. According to the Palestinians, they were attacked by some 20 settlers, who claim the land belongs to Shvut Rahel.
Police were at the scene taking testimony from those involved. Four Palestinians and two settlers were wounded during the fight.
According to an initial inquiry by the Judea and Samaria Police department with the Civil Authority, the land belongs to the Palestinians.
Two human rights groups received 20 complaints from Palestinian olive harvesters within one week of establishing an emergency headquarters to field calls for help and intervene with authorities to solve problems, the organizations, Yesh Din and Combatants for Peace, said Wednesday.
"The aim of the joint action is to make sure law enforcement agencies will handle acts of settler violence against the harvesters as they happen," the groups said in a prepared statement. The Palestinians also complained about harassment by soldiers, they said.
In the first case the organizations dealt with, on October 25, a group of settlers allegedly attacked farmers from the village of Farata who were harvesting their olives in an orchard one kilometer from the illegal settlement outpost of Gilad Farm, near Kedumim in Samaria. After soldiers arrived at the scene, the settlers attacked the farmers, who retaliated by throwing rocks. Five Palestinians were injured in the melee, including one seriously. The assailants reportedly stole sacks of olives and spilled the contents of a few of them on the ground.
In one of the incidents reported on Wednesday, farmers from the village of As-Sawiya, near Eli in Samaria, found that approximately half their olive crop had been picked before they got to their trees. According to the report, three Israeli children had been spotted a day earlier picking olives from two sections of the orchard.
In a related development, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights, said Wednesday that farmers from the village of Qaryut had been unable to pick their olives because the army was preventing them from crossing a road located between two neighborhoods of Eli to reach their orchards. The only other way for the farmers to reach the orchards was by walking two hours from their village, he said.