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Two Days in Salim

On Friday, Oct. 16, four MPTers and other internationals traveled to the village of Salim. Many villagers have olive trees on the hillside above the village in an area blocked by a gate/checkpoint on the Israeli settler-only road. Crossing the road is not allowed on most days. Villagers were told crossing the Israeli road was permitted on this day, but before MPTers and other internationals had arrived they had all been turned back by the Israeli Occupation Forces. The MPTers and internationals then joined the villagers to travel to another olive grove on the opposite side of the village. This trip also required crossing the Israeli-only road. Crossing this road at any point was forbidden, but this area was not guarded so we had no difficulty. MPTers were welcomed and fed two delicious meals for a day’s work of harvesting for a very sociable family.

Lunch in the field - Palestinian Style

On Saturday, Oct. 17, MPTers and internationals returned to Salim arriving shortly after 6 a.m. to accompany the villagers up the hillside to the olive groves where villagers had been refused crossing the day before. They walked uphill to the gate/checkpoint where hundreds of villagers had already gathered to gain access to their fields. The gate was still locked. The long dusty rocky steep road was full of cars, trucks and tractors. Soldiers would not let anyone cross. Salim Village Council members conversed with the Israeli soldiers. As internationals approached the soldiers, they were asked to order the villagers to get organized, to line up one by one. One international responded that the Palestinians had been organized for olive picking for thousands of years and needed no advice on organizing. At about 8:00 AM Palestinians on foot were allowed to cross.

The gate is still closed for vehicles; foot traffic begins to cross.

Palestinians cross while soldiers, internationals, and the media watch.
Later the soldiers said, “Only tractors may cross – no cars or trucks.” One tractor crossed; the others were trapped in gridlock on the narrow road.

Vehicular Gridlock
Finally, all vehicles and Palestinians were allowed to cross. All internationals were denied access as the area was declared “a closed military zone.” A total of ten internationals moved through the village with some villagers crossing the restricted road at a different location. We picked without incident. Later in the day one villager, who teaches school in Nablus, reported that he and his brother were able to get to their olive trees on the hillside above the gate/control, but Israeli soldiers arrived shortly after and forced them to leave. After a short conversation, the soldiers allowed them five minutes to look at their trees. The teacher said, “We are allowed 2-3 days to plow and tend our trees earlier in the season and then a few days to harvest. We are not allowed any other access to our groves.” MPTers had heard that those with trees close to the settlement would not be allowed to pick. An MPTer asked, “Were your trees near the settlement?” He replied, “No, they are about 1.5 kilometers away on a hillside across a wadi (valley) facing the settlement.” An MPTer asked, “Why then?” He replied, “There is one settler who has a place near us. That must be the reason.” (This probably refers to an outpost.) And then he added, “They said I can pick tomorrow but I must teach school tomorrow. Maybe my sister can pick.”


Eileen said...

How incredibly frustrating it must be to live in such circumstances; ridiculous, dangerous, tragic all at once. I think if I were a Palestinian I would have died of heart failure already, because I can feel my blood pressure rising just reading the accounts shared here.

Nicole said...

Great photo with the food... someone is a wonderful photographer.

Keep up the good work!