The villagers simply are unable to plow their land or graze their animals or harvest their olives in many areas because of the violence and intimidation of the armed settlers should the villagers come too close to what the settlers claim is their land -- even though it’s private Palestinian land. Indeed, many villagers are scared to venture out of their village for fear of settler violence. But the threat of violence also comes from soldiers who patrol the roads, driving in and out of the settlements, and who have a close working relationship with the settlers.
In addition to losing their land, thousands of olive trees were uprooted to make room for the settlements, imposing great economic hardship on the farmers whose income is largely dependent upon olive production. In addition, the villages have had their wells poisoned by settlers as well as their springs polluted by the sewage and industrial run-off from the settlements. Their sheep and goats have been killed or stolen and arson has destroyed their crops and olive trees.
On the 23rd, because the MPTers arrived before the farmer at the olive grove they thought was his, they sat on a boulder beneath an olive tree. They had noticed a settler on the hill watching their hike to the area. Soon, three young male settlers approached them, asking who they were, what they were doing, and why they were on “their” land, although the grove was in a valley, next to the road away from the settlement, clearly not settler land. After the MPTers nonchalantly responded that it was a beautiful day for a hike, and surely there was no problem just sitting in the shade for a rest, the settlers left -- to get reinforcements, the MPTers were sure. Not wanting to endanger the possibility of the Palestinian farmer being able to plow his field, the MPTers slowly walked across the road to the grove they realized was their destination. Meanwhile, on the hill a significant number of settlers had gathered.
It was evident that this farmer had not pruned many of his trees for a couple of years. The proximity of the settlement makes his olives groves an easy target.
Moreover, the trees had not been shaped and there were several dead almond trees that had to be cut down.