Soon Arik Ascherman, director of Rabbis for Human Rights, another Israeli, and a Swedish photojournalist arrived. The tractors had completed about 20 minutes of work, when an Israeli army jeep arrived with three soldiers. The Palestinian tractor drivers continued working. Two soldiers, Arik, and the Palestinian land owner with his land documents in hand conversed with the Israeli soldiers.
Arik called the Israeli Army District Coordinating Officer (Officer (DCO) giving them all the information from the land documents. [Reception for most cellphones was impossible here.]
The Swedish photojournalist who was working on a documentary about Israeli peace activists filmed what was happening. Arik was translating and explaining continuously. One of the soldiers recognized him because he had seen him filming in Hebron. It is probable that the army only allowed the photojournalist to continue because Arik was present.
It was now about 10:00 a.m., as everyone waited.
The soldiers returned to their jeep and a settler came down to them; the soldiers reported to the group that settler claimed that he had bought the land. This day was Holocaust Remembrance Day and all Israeli were to keep a period of silence at 10:00 a.m. The woman rabbi with RHR noted that the settler did not observe this moment of silence.
Finally the Israeli soldiers returned to where the tractors were plowing (and where the Palestinian owner, the three Israelis, two MPTers, and the photojournalist were), to announce that there would be a delay of at least an hour while the DCO looked into the land dispute. There was no guarantee of an outcome favorable to the Palestinian owner or as to the exact time of the decision.
While the Palestinians decided what to do, the older Israeli man, a retired economist and an Israeli military veteran, talked to one of the soldiers. Later the Israeli man told MPTers that the soldier questioned why he was there supporting Arab terrorists. The Israeli asked the soldier if he thought the tractor drivers were terrorists. The soldier said all Arabs (Palestinians) could be terrorists. He ranted against the Palestinians. The woman rabbi told us the officer corrected the soldier for speaking the way he did to the people in the group or speaking to them at all.
In a short time the Palestinians decided it would be a waste of their time and money to continue in the olive grove and to pay the tractors to wait, when no favorable decision was in sight soon. An MPTer spoke to the Palestinian land owner, a Palestinian teacher, who was angry, frustrated and sad. He had to pay the tractor drivers for work that could not be completed and he had lost a day of teaching since he had taken the day off for the plowing. His right to plow his fields, for which he had legal documents, had been violated. Not even half of the olive grove had been plowed. He was forced to submit to the illegal and illogical decision of the Israeli army.
One of the Palestinian tractor drivers asked the Israeli rabbi and the MPTers to accompany him to finish plowing a field in an area a short distance away. This work was finished about 2:00. MPTers left for the day at that point, while Arik Ascherman and others continued working to secure the rights of the owner at the first location to finish the plowing on his fields.