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Israeli settlers attack Palestinian olive-pickers in Hebron

Oct. 31, 2018 11:24 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 2, 2018 11:01 A.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian olive-pickers in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron City in the southern occupied West Bank, on Tuesday, and attempted to prevent them from picking olives in their lands adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Ramat Yishai.

The lands belong to local Muhammad Abu Haikal's family; the land owner, along with local and international activists, entered the land despite Israeli military procedures.

Olive-pickers continued despite attacks by Israeli settlers as they insist on being in their lands and not leaving them unprotected.

An olive-picking campaign was launched, by the Youth against Settlement group, in Tel Rumeida last week, with the participation of international institutions working for peace and justice.

Coordinator of the campaign, Izzat al-Karaki, said "We are working to support the steadfastness of Palestinian families suffering from attacks by Israeli settlers and army in closed areas of Hebron City."

Al-Karaki pointed out that dozens of international activist and locals took part in olive-picking.

Agricultural engineer Murad Amr, coordinator of the Youth against Settlement group, said that the campaign continues in high-tension areas of Tel Rumeida and areas adjacent to the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron.

Amr added that his group also formed a night watch committee to guard the olive harvest from being stolen by Israeli settlers.

The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians.

Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron's Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.

The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and 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 thefts committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely facing consequences for such thefts.

Only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks or theft 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.

According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel's main goal, both in its policies in Area C, in which more than 60% of Palestinian land is under full Israeli control, and Israel's illegal settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and to replace them with Jewish Israeli communities, in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.

The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a "stable" Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B'Tselem said, underscoring that all "Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies" have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

B'Tselem also argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area's natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.

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