Settlers attack olive harvest amid Jerusalem unrest

A group of Israeli settlers set fire to some 100 olive trees owned by Palestinian farmers near Nablus as the 2014 olive harvest began last week. "A group of settlers from the Yitzhar settlement located near Huwara town in Nablus set fire to the town's olive fields, causing the destruction of 100 trees," said Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian Authority official in monitoring settlements file in the northern West Bank. The attack sparked clashes between the settlers and local residents, which ended upon the arrival of Israeli forces. Around 20,000 Jewish settlers live near Nablus in 39 Zionist-only settlements. Palestinian residents complain of repeated attacks by settlers, who usually enjoy the protection of the Israeli forces (Al-Akhbar, Oct. 22) At Deir al-Hatab, near Nablus, the olive harvest has been spoiled by constant incrusions from settlers at Elon Moreh. The Palestinian farmers are allowed access to their lands only in coordinaiton with military expoort—just a few days per year. They were barred from their lands entirely between 2002 and 2007. (Haaretz, Oct. 26)

In Bil'in village, near Ramallah, hundreds of olive trees have been destroyed in recent years due to the sustained use of tear-gas and sound grenades by Israel forces to disperse weekly demonstrations against the separation barrier. The local Popular Committees group is fighting a legal battle to recover confiscated lands, after succeeding in recent years to reclaim 700 square kilometers by Israeli court order. (World Bulletin, Oct. 11)

Street clashes again broke out in East Jerusalem over the weekend, with 18 arrested, after a Palestinian teen with dual US citizenship was killed in a confrontation with Israeli troops. The 14-year-old was shot dead by Israeli soldiers Oct. 24 afternoon during clashes at a weekly protest. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the boy was about to hurl a firebomb on the Route 60 "apartheid road" through the West Bank—a claim denied by Palestinian officials. 

In what police called a "terror attack," on Oct. 22, a Palestinian motorist ploiughed into a crowd of Israelis in East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood, killing an infant and injuring six others. The motorist was shot dead by police. His family now claims he lost control of the car. (Haaretz, Oct. 26; AFP, Oct. 25; Haaretz, Oct. 23)

  1. Apartheid road system advances on West Bank

    Israeli authorities have bowed to pressure from Jewish settlers and ordered a ban on Palestinians from using Israeli-run buses in the West Bank, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Oct. 26. According to the paper, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has issued instructions to the IDF's Civil Administration to ban Palestinian workers from traveling by Israeli-run buses upon their return from their work places inside Israel to the West Bank. The ban will go into effect at the beginning of next month. (MEM, Oct. 26)

  2. IDF court convicts Palestinian non-violent organizer

    Abdullah Abu Rahmah, one of the central organizers of the popular resistance protests against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bil'in, was convicted of obstructing the work of a soldier by an Israeli military court this week. He will likely be sentenced to four months in prison.

    Abu Rahmah, who was recognized by the European Union as a “human rights defender” dedicated to non-violence, previously served over a year in prison for organizing “illegal marches” as well as for “incitement.” All political demonstrations are illegal for Palestinians under Israeli military law. (+972, Oct. 23)

  3. ‘Car Intifada’? No, thanks

    Just to prove that stupidity—and in particular, the barbarities endemic to the global car culture—is an equal-opportunity employer, Jewish Press gets to gloat Nov. 9 that some hot-heads have posted to the MoslimMan.Rok Facebook page a self-penned song called "Car Intifada," urging Palestinian motorists to run over "settlers." It has apparently gone viral, with over 355,000 views. Not helpful, guys.

    1. Another ‘car intifada’ attack

      A Palestinian man rammed his car into a group of Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem, injuring four police and one civilian—at the same junction as the previous attack last year. Police say the driver tried to stab people before he was shot and seriously wounded by a security guard.

      The Popular Resistance movement in Palestine praised the car attack. "The attack comes as a response to Israeli crimes," said spokesman Hassan al-Zaalan. The Hamas movement also praised the "heroic" attack, describing it as a "natural response" to Israeli crimes. (BBC NewsMa'an)

  4. Palestinians march in north Israel after shooting

    Palestinian protesters took to the streets across the country Nov. 9 and police raised alert levels nationwide after the fatal shooting of a young Palestinian citizen of Israel. Shops, schools, and businesses were shuttered in Palestinian towns and villages where a general strike was observed over that day's killing of a 22-year-old in Kfar Kana near Nazareth in the Galilee region. According to locals in Kafr Kana, Khair al-Din Rouf Hamdan was shot dead after police attempted to arrest his cousin. (AFPMa'an)

    The following day, a Palestinian stabbed three settlers at a hitch-hiking stop near the Jewish settlement of Alon Shvot outside Bethlehem, killing one Israeli woman. The assailant was fatally shot. (Ma'an)

    Also Nov. 9, Israeli gunboats shot and injured three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip. One fisherman was hospitalized. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that navy forces identified a Palestinian boat entering Egyptian territorial waters and called for it to stop after it re-entered Israeli waters. When the boat did not stop, the naval forces opened fire at the boat, "identifying a hit." (Ma'an)

  5. Prominent Israeli rabbi: Ban Arabs from driving cars

    Electronic Intifada reports that Elyakim Levanon, the “Regional Rabbi of Samaria” (the name Israel gives to the northern part of the occupied West Bank) told ultra-orthodox radio station Kol Hai that  Palestinian citizens of Israel be banned from driving cars outside their towns. "Every car is a terror institution and every gas station that provides fuel to Arab cars that travel the roads is a station that supplies weapons and ammunition," Levanon said. "Arab cars may not leave Arab cities. Arabs who want to do so can travel by bus. Those who use a private vehicle to attack and kill people will not travel in a car…it will take a week, two weeks, or a month until the Arab street [public] will calm down and understand that there is order in the state."

    Levanon’s call came after several recent instances of Palestinians in East Jerusalem driving cars into pedestrians, incidents Israel calls “terrorism.” Electronic Intifada problematically adds: "Palestinians say that the incidents are either accidents, or acts of desperation by individuals responding to Israel’s escalating violence and colonization in the occupied city." As if "responding to Israel’s escalating violence" by mowing down random pedestrians somehow fails to constitute terrorism?

    More legitimately, EI notes: "Israeli settlers have a long history of running down Palestinians with their cars. Last month, for instance, a settler rammed Palestinian schoolchildren as they made their way towards their mothers after exiting a school bus in the West Bank town of Sinjil. Five-year-old Inas Khalil was fatally injured, and another girl, Toleen Asfour, six, was left in critical condition." Israeli police found this was an "accident," but it was definitely a hit-and-run. The settler claims he fled out of fear of being hurt by the Palestinian crowd that gathered around the girls he maimed.

    It's an outrageous double standard that the whole world knows about the Israelis mowed down in East Jerusalem but not the Sinjil incident. But all the bickering about whether the incidents were "accidents" or "terrorism" overlooks a critical factor: the pathological nature of car cutlure. That doesn't fit into anyone's "narrative" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

  6. Settlers destroy 500 newly planted olive trees

    A group of Jewish settlers from the Metzad settlement near Bethlehem uprooted over 500 newly planted olive tree saplings on Feb. 18 near the Hebron town of al-Shuyukh. The damaged fields belong to the al-Ayayda family, local activists said. The owners found the damaged trees in the morning while going out to check his land, which is near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The week before, settlers from Metzad destroyed over 70 tree saplings near the town of Sair.

    Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year's crop can signal destitution for many. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank. (Ma'an, Feb. 24)