MPTers were present in Burin in late September after Yitzar settlers cut more than 95 young olive trees in one grove. http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2009/10/burin-tree-massacre.html MPTers returned again in early October to pick olives from a family grove near Yitzar.
This past Tuesday, October 20, 2009, MPTers walked with several men of a Burin family up to their olive groves at the edge of the outpost/settlement, Har Bracha. One of the men expressed fear of both Israeli settlers and soldiers and apprehension about going to his land. MPTers received the clear impression that he would not have gone without accompaniment.
Soon four soldiers from the Israeli Occupation Forces appeared on the edge of the mountain above the MPTers and family members. The soldiers stayed all morning during the picking, leaving only when the group left for the village. During this week Israeli soldiers had declared some olive groves closed military zones, so that internationals could not help Palestinians pick their olives in areas close to settlements. The soldiers watched, but did not stop the Palestinians or internationals from picking this day.
Four Israeli soldiers observed the group from a distance all morning long.
Because of the Occupation and continual harassment by Israeli settlers and soldiers, this olive grove near the settlement has received little attention from the farmer. Good harvests occur every other year. This year was a scant harvest year and, coupled with the drought Palestine has been experiencing, contributed to significantly fewer olives. Because the fields of this Palestinian farmer had not been plowed and his trees not pruned for a considerable time, most trees in his grove bore very few olives.
Indeed, one tree had a total of only 20 olives. In a grove with well tended olive trees, one small branch alone could have 20 or more olives. Family members did not prune the trees as they picked. It seemed that all they wanted to do was harvest as many olives as possible and get away from the area as quickly as possible. The livelihood of Palestine farmers is greatly affected by the Occupation in so many ways.
Soldiers moved down the hill opposite the group as they walked to the village.