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Israeli settlers harass Palestinian families picking olives southwest of Nablus

Oct. 16, 2016 4:27 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 16, 2016 11:03 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Dozens of extremist Israeli settlers harassed Palestinian families who were picking olives on their private lands west of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank on Sunday, according to local sources.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Nablus-based official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that settlers from the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Gilad “attacked” different families from the villages of Jit and Farata in the Qalqiliya district, and Sarra in the Nablus district -- all located just south of the outpost.

According to Daghlas, skirmishes broke out between the Palestinian families and Israeli settlers, prompting Israeli soldiers to intervene, who forced some Palestinian families to return home.

It remained unclear if the settlers physically or verbally assaulted the Palestinian families, and what exactly transpired during the reported “skirmishes.”

Daghlas highlighted that prior to the attacks, a Palestinian liaison office had coordinated with its Israeli counterpart to allow Palestinian farmers in these specific areas to access their land to pick olives.

Neither an Israeli army or police spokesperson had any information about the reports.

Sunday’s events came nearly a week after a number of settlers from the illegal Eli settlement attacked Sahir Mousa and his family while they were picking olives on their land in the outskirts of the Nablus-area village of Qaryut, which is just a few kilometers away from the settlement.

"They arrived carrying hatchets and other sharp tools and forced the family to return home and completely damaged their car," Daghlas said regarding that attack.

According to Daghlas, the attack in Qaryut was the first of its kind during olive harvest season this year.

However on Oct. 4, a group of Israeli settlers’ children escorted by Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian family harvesting olives in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

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.

More than 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

Most recently, members of the UN security council held a special informal meeting on Friday regarding illegal Israeli settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where activists and member states criticized Israel's policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2015.

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