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Illegal Israeli Settlers Attack Palestinian Olive Farmers, International Peace Activists, British Nicholas Marcroft Released

As settlers attacks increase, Abbas calls on the Palestinians to plant a million trees

Monday October 20, 2008 06:56 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

On the wake of escalating attacks carried out by extreme illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinian villages and orchards in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, urged the Palestinians on Sunday to plat a million trees.

The illegal Israeli settlers escalated their attacks as the Palestinians started their olive harvest season. Such attacks are similar to attacks carried out by the settlers in previous seasons.

Abbas slammed the ongoing attacks carried out by the settlers and by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, His statements came during a meeting with Palestinian authors and columnists in the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday,

On Saturday, an extremist settlers group attacked Palestinians and internationals picking olives in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Several local and international reporters witnessed the attack.

During his speech, Abbas called on the Palestinians to plant olive trees in their lands and on the hills in order to counter the continued aggression carried out by the settlers.

Abbas added that he would personally provide funding for planting a million trees in the West Bank in order to convert it into a green area.

The Palestinian president also slammed the Israeli government for the ongoing attacks against the Palestinians in Akka and in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, an extremist fundamental settlers leader identified as Benzi Lieberman, the former head of the Yesha Council of Settlements claimed that the Palestinians are cutting their own trees and are accusing the settlers of carrying out attacks.

He also accused the Palestinians of “staging scenes of destruction to their orchards”.

Thousands of Palestinian families depend on their groves and orchards as their only sources of livelihood.

Several Israeli Human Rights groups, inluding B'Tselem, document the repeated settler attacks against the Palestinian villagers and their orchards.

100 illegal Israeli settlers beat farmers, internationals and destroy vehicles during olive harvest

Date: 20 / 10 / 2008  Time:  10:58
Qalqiliya – Ma’an –

More than one hundred illegal Israeli settlers attacked and beat up Palestinian farmers and foreign volunteers collecting olives at Jabal Odala, an outskirt of the northern West Bank town of Kafr Qaddoum north east Qalqiliya on Monday.

illegal Israeli settlers injured several olive pickers and damaged vehicles in order to prevent the group from collecting the harvest. The group was driven away from the area by the violent mass. Several British volunteers were also injured.

Head of the town’s local council Muhammad Shetaiwi said that his own family members were beaten by settlers who then blocked off the olive grove and prevented families and volunteers from entering the area.

Shetaiwi appealed to humanitarian organizations to intervene and save the town from settlers’ frequent attacks.

The village has been the target of frequent attacks by illegal Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Qedumim, which was established on lands forcibly confiscated from the properties of the Palestinian village of Kafr Qaddoum.

Israeli occupation government expands illegal settlement

Sunday October 19, 2008 19:21 by IMEMC Staff - IMEMC & Agencies

The Israeli occupation government began construction work on Sunday at an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in an attempt to expand the settlement, the Palestinian public committee for defending lands in the city revealed.

The committee said that Israeli occupation government and armed settlers have recently started installing three housing units in the Charsina illegal settlement to the east of Hebron, coincidently with establishing a 4,000-square meter-wide infrastructure network for the settlement.

Construction of the housing units come at the expense of vast areas of Palestinian-owned lands, belonging to the family of Almohtaseb in the Baq'a neighborhood, the sources made clear.

Earlier, Israeli sources said that three Jewish institutions dedicated to the promotion of settlement on occupied Palestinian lands announced a new bid to construct three new random settlement enclaves around the Palestinian-populated cities of Ramallah and Nablus.

Amidst such a new Israeli settlement drive, Palestinian expert of maps and Israeli settlements Abdelhadi Hantash warned of the consequences of the construction.

"By embarking on that, Israel slams all underway peace efforts and enforces a de-facto on the ground, as settlements expansion or building new settlements would agitate the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis".

For the past eight years , Palestinians and Israelis have been negotiating a peaceful solution based on previously-signed agreements, including the U.S-backed road map peace blueprint of 2003, which calls to halt illegal Israeli settlement.

The international law stipulates that all Israeli settlements established on occupied Palestinian lands are illegal, and thus Israel is demanded to evacuate all of them without question.

In September 2005, Israel evacuated 17 illegal settlements in Gaza and 4 others in the West Bank, within the framework of Israel's unilateral disengagement from the coastal territory after 38 years of occupation.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, with the end of 2006, the number of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, mounted to 144, populating 475,760 Jewish settlers.

British environmentalist jailed during settler takeover is released on bail

Date: 19 / 10 / 2008  Time:  20:46
Jerusalem – Ma’an –

Nicholas Marcroft, a British environmental consultant, was released on bail from Israel’s Russian Compound prison in Jerusalem on Sunday after three days’ detention.

Marcroft and five others were detained by Israeli police on Thursday on the sidelines of a rally staged by Jewish settlers in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour, outside Bethlehem. The five others were released later on Thursday while Marcroft was jailed and charged with striking a police officer, a charge he denies.

“I haven’t relaxed at all. I’m still extremely worried about being deported,” Marcroft told Ma’an. He is scheduled to appear in court next month.

At the time of the arrest some Thirty Palestinians and internationals were participating in what they said was a ‘nature walk’ in a valley near the abandoned Israeli base, known as Oush Ghrab, which was taken over by illegal Israeli settlers again on Thursday.

Illegal settler groups such as Women in Green and the Committee for a Jewish Shdema have been staging events at the base in recent months in hopes of eventually establishing a new illegal outpost on the site. The Israeli occupation army abandoned the base in 2006.

A videotape taken during Thursday’s events show a uniformed Israeli officer kicking, punching, and then wrestling him to the ground. The other detainees all said they were physically abused by officers at the scene.

Emerging from the Russian Compound on Sunday, Marcroft’s arms were bruised. Two other detainees from Thursday, Jason Pollack and Salim Anfous, said they'd been forced by Israeli officers to sign documents written in Hebrew saying they had not been harmed during their arrest. Anfous said the officers threatened to break his arms if he did not sign.

Marcoft works as a consultant organizing environmental activities in Beit Sahour, and was in the valley during the arrest at the request of the Palestine Wildlife Society and on the recommendation of the Beit Sahour Municipality.

Though worried about his legal situation, Marcroft said he is still concerned about the environmental situation, particularly the “stagnant water and maggots” in the Wadi, or valley, he was touring on Thursday. He said construction equipment is needed to “remediate the stagnant sediments that have built up.”

“This wadi represents a relatively undisturbed area … it’s undergrazed. If given the chance, the native flora could grow back. It could be a very beautiful area.”

Violent settlers attack family, internationals in two separate incidents

Date: 19 / 10 / 2008  Time:  14:00
Jenin/Qalqiliya – Ma’an –

The actions of violent illegal Israeli settlers across the West Bank have escalated this olive season as attacks against Palestinians in their fields or olive groves have become frequent and dangerous; two more attacks occured on Sunday in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian security sources confirmed on Sunday two violent attacks by the settlers from Mevo Dotan, an illegal settlement near the Palestinian villages of Ya’bad and Arraba.

One group of setters attacked a Naji Lutfi Zuhair from Arraba, who was harvesting olives with his family at 10am on Sunday. Zuhair was badly beaten by the setters, who also stole the olives he and his family had harvested.

Zuhair’s face and body were bruised, and settlers continued to drive the family out of their land.

This is the first recorded attack by settlers from the Mevo Dotan settlement, who have traditionally lived a world apart in the settlement, using Israeli bypass roads and not interacting with the Palestinian population.

In Qalqiliya governorate, several sources reported a troop of Israeli police officers and settlers from the illegal Qedumim settlement attacking a second group of Palestinians and internationals harvesting lands in the village of Kafr Qaddoum.

The event was organized by officials in the governorate with help from the Popular Committee Against the Wall, to help ensure the safety and security of Palestinians harvesting their olives this weekend.

In this incident four French volunteers were arrested, who had been helping the family pick olives. Clashes between the locals and the settlers erupted after setters tried to push the harvesters off the land.

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