By Neve Gordon
At dawn the activists arrived. Around thirty Ta’ayush (Arab-Jewish Partnership) and international volunteers came to the Palestinian groves adjacent to the Jewish settlement in Tel-Rumeida, Hebron, to help the landowners pick their olives. Previous attempts by the Palestinian farmers — who live behind fences and are subjected to daily violence — to reach their olive trees had been blocked by the residents of Tel Rumeida, a stronghold of the most militant and extremist Jewish settlers. Even the Israeli police are afraid of these settlers while the military routinely bows down to their commands.
A few days earlier, the activists had been informed that the settlers had entered the groves and had stolen olives from their rightful owners. Complaints to the police were ignored, while the military decided to deny Palestinians all access to the trees.
After meeting their Palestinian partners, the activists began picking the olives. They worked fast and were making considerable progress when four settlers arrived on the scene, and, without warning began beating an international activist and a press photographer, while breaking their cameras.
The settlers had come to the site accompanied by Israeli soldiers, whose job is to protect the settlers from Palestinians. It is therefore not surprising that the soldiers did nothing to prevent the violent attack, did not detain the settlers and even told the settlers that they would do well to hide before the police arrived. (Click here to watch a movie of the settler violence).
The Ta’ayush activists had already called the police, informing them that the settlers were attacking the olive pickers. This time, the police arrived at the scene fairly quickly, but instead of arresting the belligerent settlers they notified the Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals that they had to leave the area since it was declared a “closed military zone.” Once again the violent oppressors had triumphed.
The activists, however, refused to accept the unjust decision, claiming that it was implemented to stop the Palestinian landowners from reaching their olives. This time the police officers and military thought it appropriate to use force and started evacuating the activists.
Three Ta’ayush activists were arrested, and were taken to a jail, where the police planned to keep them overnight. After midnight, following a request for an urgent hearing their case was brought to court and they were released. Again, the settlers had won the day and managed to prevent the harvest, only this time the event was covered by the press, and the true face of the settlers, police, and military was exposed. Usually, the world is left ignorant of the violence.
Ta’ayush Jerusalem has been active since 2001. Over the years we worked together with Palestinian communities in the southern part of the West Bank, including the Palestinians cave-dwellers in the south Hebron hills, with Palestinians living in the city of Hebron, with groups of Palestinians in the Bethlehem area and in East Jerusalem. All these Palestinians are subjected to ongoing violence, including house demolitions, the threat of expulsion, and the confiscation of land. They are living in extreme poverty due to the military siege and Israel’s draconic restriction of their movement.
In order to maintain their weekly activities with the Palestinians, Ta’ayush needs your help.
1. The cost of weekly activities to south Hebron is approximately 1000 Israeli shekels (about $250) for a group of 20 volunteers.
2. The cost for larger-scale activities, which requires renting buses, is 5000 shekels ($1250).
3. Monthly costs for petrol and telephones for Israeli and Palestinian activists—roughly 3000 shekels ($750).
-To read about Neve Gordon’s book (Israel’s Occupation) and more click here www.israelsoccupation.info. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.