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Israeli forces prevent Palestinian olive harvest in 2 villages

Nov. 3, 2013 4:10 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 4, 2013 4:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Sunday prevented Palestinians in two villages across the West Bank from accessing their orchards in order to harvest olives on their lands, activists said.

Women, children, and elderly residents of the central West Bank village of al-Janiya were escorted by activists from the "You're not alone" campaign to harvest olives on Sunday morning.

Israeli forces deployed in the area en masse and surrounded the group, preventing the Palestinians from accessing their lands.

The olive orchards are located near the Israeli settlement of Talmon, which was itself built on land confiscated from the village. The area of al-Janiya is surrounded on all sides by Israeli-controlled roads.

Also Sunday, Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from Qaryut village in the northern West Bank district of Nablus from reaching their lands to harvest olives. Their lands are located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli.

The coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Salah al-Khawaja, said Israeli authorities frequently impose restrictions on Palestinian farmers and detain them, especially during the olive harvest season.

Al-Khawaja said that the third phase of the "You are not alone" campaign will involve planting trees in different areas, especially lands located near settlements where Palestinian farmers are subjected to attacks by Israeli settlers.

According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.

In 2012, there were 353 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Over 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers between January and mid-October in 2012, according to OCHA.

The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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