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Illegal Israeli Settlers Steal Olive Harvest

MPT was asked to accompany a family that lives in Awarta to harvest olives in their grove near the three illegal Israeli settlements of Itamar, Yitzah and Bracha. The Palestinian farmers feared the harvest would be disrupted by the settlers. When MPT and the Palestinian family arrived at their trees, it was soon evident that all of the trees had already been picked. Since 2007, the Awwad family have had their olives stolen. Five Awwad families have 200 olive trees which normally yield 300 kilos of olives. This year they gave up after we helped them harvest only 5 kilos of olives. Five kilos of olives would fill a 2 ½ gallon bucket; 300 kilos would fill approximately 12 bushels.

The two brothers & another relative were resigned as they explained with a smattering of English, that this has happened several years in a row. They did not seem angry, they did not yell. They were gracious to MPT members, shared their breakfast with us & took us to help another family with their olive harvest. This family spoke almost no English and we speak only a few words of Arabic. From what we were able to understand this family was under no threat but we did see some Israeli military vehicles pass by as we worked. They were apparently in route to their base in the valley, there to protect the three settlements built up on the hilltops. From what? Perhaps from the Palestinian farmers harvesting their own crops before the settlers are able to steal them?!

As we waited in Awarta we observed several posters & paintings on the building of one young man. When we asked about them, we were told that he was killed by the Israeli military, a year ago, Oct 23, 2009. International Solidarity Movement published an article about the murder of this 29 year old father last year.

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