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Olive Harvesting in Kafr Qaddum and Immatin

An MPTer joined the IWPS [International Women’s Peace Service] and another international group in picking olives near Kafr Qaddum village. Throughout the olive harvest, this village which is in close proximity to several illegal Israeli settlements has had trouble with Israeli settlers and soldiers. This day we accompanied a courageous Palestinian village farmer, his wife and sister who decided to venture picking their olives which grew on his land close to an illegal Israeli outpost. [Outposts consist of a few trailers for settlers who wish to extend the settlement or establish a new one. All settlements and outposts are illegal under international law.]
The work began about 8:30 a.m., harvesting on the third terrace below the outpost, then moving to the second terrace, and ultimately to the first terrace.

A Danish international accompanied and picked olives with the family and the MPTers. The family, particularly the women, was a bit shy about pictures,but you can see them in the background.
Heavy plastic tarps are placed on the ground to catch the falling olives.

The Palestinian farmer had five fine olive trees on this highest level. The picking had just begun on the top level when two Israeli soldiers came and ordered everyone off this level.

An olive tree on the top terrace of Paletinian land, but a "forbidden" area.

The soldiers spoke in English and Arabic ordering everyone off the top terrace.

With the permission of the Palestinians, the MPTer and other international made a total of four telephone calls to the Israel District Coordination Committee [DCO] requesting a clarification of the right to harvest on this level. The DCO stated the Palestinians had a right to harvest at this level, but the internationals had to stay off the top level. There was a serious razor-wire fence and heavy shrubbery above the top level making entry into the outpost very difficult. No amount of explaining or pleading with the soldiers changed their decision. They said they had orders that no Palestinians could enter this area because the people of the village wanted to hurt the Israeli settlers and soldiers. The young international explained that no one wanted to hurt them and that the harvesting of olives was all that was desired.

The soldiers ordered all down to the lower level. These could be orders from a higher army officials or perhaps their own decision.

The soldiers suddenly could no longer speak English and yelled threats at the farmer.

The farmer waited patiently with the hope of harvesting his last 5 trees. His wife was very nervous.

Trying to wait it out did not work, so at 12:30 and with less than half of the farmer’s trees picked, the Palestinians and the internationals left the area, but with the plan to return the next day hoping for more considerate soldiers.

The rest of the afternoon, was spent picking olives on the other side of Kafr Qaddum village, where a Palestinian farmer’s land was near settlement greenhouses. There had been no incident of settler or soldier violence that day, but earlier in the morning two soldiers had visited the area.

Meeting up with the other internationals and villagers at the end of the day, it was discovered that where internationals were present there had been no incidents of violence, but in an area near where the MPTer had been in the morning, a day of terror had prevailed. In this area behind the outpost, fifteen Palestinian villagers had been held captive all day by armed Israeli soldiers who periodically allowed the Israeli settlers to stone the detained Palestinians. Finally at 3:00 p.m., the Palestinians were allowed to leave, however the tractor and driver who brought up the rear was taken by two soldiers and beaten. The villagers hearing the commotion ran to his rescue, took him from the soldiers and carried him to the hospital in the larger nearby town of Nablus. The tractor driver was unconscious for a time and kept overnight in the hospital for observation. It was indeed a day of terror for this Palestinian family. [See report:


The internationals, particularly IWPS, met with the extended family and the mayor and set up a meeting for the following night.

The day after the beating of the tractor driver, the farmer and his wife with trees on the top terrace near the outpost were too frightened to return, so they just left their five olive trees not harvested. Internationals went out the next two days with members of the family of the beaten man. The driver was in satisfactory condition and not in the hospital, but he decided to wait several days to return to harvest.

Wednesday and Thursday, three women, two IWPS and one MPT, assisted a family in picking olives in an area a way from the outpost, but still very much in view. Their olive trees had produced many, many small olives so work was hard and slow. Each morning they went out by tractor on a very rough trail and walked back at night under the bright spotlights from the outpost and the sound of dogs in the background. Soldiers were sighted, but none came to the area.

The bright lights of the outpost contrasted with the dim lights of the village. The spotlight lit the way for almost a mile

Friday, the village of Immatin asked for protective accompaniment for village farmers who had land near a settlement factory. The factory was just over the farmer’s rock wall, but perhaps because the factory did not operate that day, they harvested all day without the presence of settlers or soldiers. Harvesting olives was delightful – in the warm sunlight, with children picking and playing, young and middle aged men climbing into the trees and on ladders to gather from the high branches, young women picking from the lower branches and the ground. The mother prepared a delightful midmorning brunch and a late afternoon dinner which was eaten on the earth near the trees.

This was a wonderful family with seven children; the eldest was 17, soon to graduate from high school and then go on to the university. Her parents had met and married in Kuwait, but returned to the Palestinian village of Immatin during the first Gulf War. The mother, who spoke excellent English, left her place of birth and the modern city life to live and work in a very simple farming village. The father was originally from the village, as was the mother’s family. The mother was forced to wait three years in Jordan with her parents, while her husband got her Palestinian identification

The two international women had a wonderful conversation with her after she asked about their motivation for coming to Palestine. The children asked them if they liked Palestine. After this wonderful day so close to the earth with this amazing family, of course they loved Palestine.

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