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Sarra - Settler Theft of Villager's Olives

This roadblock barring entrance from a main highway to Sarra village was constructed in 2002.
Formerly it barred both pedestrians and cars; now only cars are blocked.
(Click on pictures to enlarge them.)

Today MPTers and other internationals were invited to pick olives with a Sarra village family in a grove across from an illegal Israeli outpost of the Qedumim settlement. Sarra village, seven miles west of Nablus, has had its road leading to the main highway closed by huge cement blocks since 2002. The village has removed this road block at various demonstrations and then been punished for it by home invasions and harsh harassment by the Israeli occupation army

Sarra villagers are proud of their well-organized village with good internet access. Brothers in the inviting family have spent time in the USA; one attended an Ohio nursing school.

As MPTers walked the long distance to a small olive grove, a family member pointed out an area burned by settlers. The wind had blown the flames to a brush area in the east rather than to the east, thus saving a large olive grove.
A family uncle rides ahead of the MPTers to his large olive grove,
hoping that he and his family can salvage a few olives from his grove.

MPTers noticed that in the distance across the highway near the illegal Israeli outpost and a large olive grove about ten settler cars and a group of settlers. The owner of the olive grove, an uncle of the inviting family who rode on his donkey beside the MPTers, told them that the Israeli settlers had already picked most of his olives.

In the distance is the outpost. Israeli soldiers are there to "protect" the villagers from the settlers. Two settlers youth were turned back. Often both settlers and soldiers attack villagers.

The Israeli army was stationed at several points near the grove.
Here villagers negotiate with the army in order to pick any remaining olives.

Israeli army and army police jeeps were stationed at the west of the grove,
effectively controlling the entrance of any persons they deemed undesirable.

This day Sarra villagers had "permission" and "protection" from the Israeli army to pick olives on this land, their land. However, the settlers had already picked most of the olives and at least one family was turned back by the soldiers when the internationals were present.

When the international group [MPTers included] moved down to observe more closely, an Israeli military officer called the villager with them down to the highway. The villager was told by the officer that no internationals were allowed across the highway. According to a recent Israeli court decision Palestinians can invite whomever they wish to pick in their groves. The villager was given the "OK" by the Israeli officer to check out the grove belonging to his uncle. He reported when he returned that he has seen few olives left to pick. Internationals had not been invited by the family to pick in this area perhaps because they did not know the court decision or knew that the olives there were very few.

After finishing picking in the small grove on the side opposite the outpost, the family and internationals returned to the village for a delicious lunch. Internationals commented that Israeli settlers live outside the law and are protected by the Israeli occupation forces when they commited huge thefts that affect the livelihood of Palestinian villagers.

This group attempted to negotiate an entrance to their olive grove, but the soldiers sent them back to the village. Their entire olive crop has been lost.

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