Photo: AP
Olive harvest (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
Settlers disrupt Palestinian olive harvest
Six girls detained on suspicion of using knives to rip sacks of olives harvested by Palestinians
A group of girls from a settlement in the Binyamin region in the West Bank disrupted Palestinian olive harvesters in the village of Sinjil and cut their olive sacks.


Six girls out of the dozen or so who apparently took part in the incident were arrested and will face judges in connection with the incident..


Kamal, a Sinjil resident, told Ynet that "The girls followed us, holding pocketknives. They cut the sacks and spilled the olives."


"The soldiers saw everything, but didn’t do a thing. The Civil Administration commander promised to handle the matter, but the girls continued to go wild. There were more than 10 soldiers and only 10 girls, but they didn’t prevent them from doing anything," he charged.


"An entire day of harvest went to ruin," he said.


Many Palestinians in the West Bank fear that the scenario will repeat itself later on in the season. The crop this year is disappointing,
and therefore it is important for them to harvest with no interruptions.


"We began picking the olives after fully coordinating it with the army and the Civil Administration," Kamal said. "We worked until the afternoon, and then two girls who we recognized from last year passed by. We filed a complaint against them in the past for stealing our olives. The police opened a file, but didn’t do anything to them."


"Later, another 10 girls arrived. We were busy with the olive harvest, working and putting the olives in sacks. They came and wanted to steal the sacks. We shouted at them and they escaped," he said.


"I spoke to the army and said – if you won't defend us, we will defend ourselves, and I started shouting at the girls. The soldier told me that if I speak to the girls, the soldiers will hit us and shoot at us," he charged.


"We also called the police, but the girls heard it and started to walk away. Nevertheless, they had already managed to tear the plastic bags used for the harvest, as well as the sacks," he added.


'Not the first time'


"Every time I complain to the police nothing happens," Kamal said in frustration.


"They always claim that I have no proof. I suggested catching the girls, and they really caught seven of them and took them to the police. They summoned us to identify them, and one of the girls even cursed at me when I came," he said.


"We filed a complaint against them, but I know that nothing will be done. The soldiers said they were coming to protect us, but didn’t help at all. I told all this to the unit's commander, but he just said that we can pick again tomorrow," Kamal added.


Rabbi Arik Ascherman of the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, which assists the Arabs in the region with the annual olive harvest, said that "This is not the first time that these girls have caused trouble there. For years there have been problems of all kinds of crop theft."


"I was there today and I saw scattered plastic bags and olives on the ground,” he said.


The IDF said in response that "The soldiers, Civil Administration personnel and the Israel Police boosted their presence ahead of the olive harvest season."


"In the incident in question, 10-12 settler girls arrived and began disrupting and ripping their sacks while they were harvesting olives. When the soldiers noticed what was happening, they caught the girls and handed them over to police for interrogation.


The initial report was received via Red Email.


Efrat Weiss contributed to the report


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