Settlers in Itamar were outraged Sunday morning after Palestinians from Awarta arrived in Itamar for their annual olive harvest in the settlement. According to the settlers, among the Palestinians who arrived in Itamar were the family members of Amjad and Hakim Awad
who brutally stabbed and murdered
five members of the Fogel family six months ago.
The settlers claimed that the Palestinians shouted "We'll Fogel you" and drew their fingers across their necks indicating slaughter.
Dozens of women and children from Itamar protested against the move, including Tamar Fogel who lost her parents and three siblings in the heinous terror attack. Several settlers threw rocks at Palestinians, one was lightly wounded. Security forces separated the two sides.
According to Itamar settlers, during last year's harvest, Hakim Awad
entered the settlement and gathered information ahead of the massacre. "This is an abominable case of insensitivity," they said, "In previous years yeshiva students harvested the olives for the Palestinians and transferred them to Awarta's residents free of charge.
Itamar residents against Awarta harvesters (Photo: Samaria Settlers' Committee) "After intervention from left-wing activists we were forced to allow the village residents to carry out their own harvest, but it is clear that with a little bit of thought and creativity we could have found a solution." The settlers claim that this is an "absurd situation where the family of the killer harvests olives meters away from where he butchered an entire family."
Chaim Fogel, father of the late Udi Fogel said in response that the incident was "an paralleled gall to bring this family to the harvest. It is gross insensitivity." He claims that "untill now we have been restrained and have not demanded that their families be evicted or harmed in any way though it was called for. We didn't want to touch it though it was clearly burning us from within."
The Palestinians who arrived on the settlement accompanied by Police Special Forces and Border Guard officers claimed that they weren't close relatives of the murderers. "There are famers from the Awad family among the harvesters," admitted Jamal Kavarik, an Awarta resident, "but they weren't closely related to the murderers. The Awad clan in Awarta is numerous."
He attested to the fact that the IDF
arrived at the scene in the early hours of the morning to secure the harvest and prevent altercations between the Palestinians and the settlers. "When we arrived on the field 15 settlers came down from Itamar and started throwing rocks at the farmers. I called the Coordination and Liaison Administration and told them and the IDF arrived at the scene."
Settlers claim the incident is "an outrageous scandal that cries out to the heavens," Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council said.
"Exactly one year ago in meetings with IDF and Civil Administration chiefs I sounded the alarm over how terrorists could use the olive harvest to gather information ahead of terror attacks.
"In spite of all the warnings, hundreds of Arabs from Awarta entered Itamar for the harvest, including the killer Hakim Awad
who collected information before the massacre. I would expect that this year would bring a more rational outlook on the subject."
Brigadier General (Res.) Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, the head of the yeshiva in Itamar also responded harshly to the incident: "Six months after the murder, with the blood still boiling and the settlement still caring for its bleeding wounds, allowing any resident of Awarta where the murderers of the Fogel family and the Shabo family came from is outrageous lawlessness."
Elior Levy contributed to the report