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Activists Join Palestinian Farmers' Olive Harvest

200 Peace Activists Join Palestinian Farmers In Olive Harvest

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/

Immediate Release

October 19, 2002

-Two hundred peace activists join Palestinian farmers in olive harvesting

-Too late for Hirbat Yanun: the last inhabitants flee for settlers

This morning 200 peace activists - from Gush Shalom, Peace Now, Ta'ayush and the Women's Coalition for Peace - went to several West Bank locations to protect by their presence Palestinians from settler harassment during the olive harvest.

That it is about a lot more than this years' olives may become clear from the following which appears today on the Ha'aretz website:

Ha'aretz Internet Edition

Saturday, October 19, 2002. Last update - 10:06 19/10/2002

Palestinians abandon W. Bank village, citing attacks by settlers
By The Associated Press

The Sobih family vacating their village of Hirbat Yanun on Friday. (Photo: AP) Six Palestinian families set out Friday from the village of the West Bank village of Hirbat Yanun, leaving it completely abandoned.

Once home to 25 families, members of the Sobih clan said they were fleeing after four years of worsening attacks by Jewish settlers who have set up illegal outposts on nearby hilltops. The attacks have become increasingly frequent in recent months, they said.

Groups of masked Jewish settlers have charged into the village, coming at night with dogs and horses, stealing sheep, hurling stones through windows and beating the men with fists and rifle butts, Palestinian residents told the Associated Press.

An electricity generator has been scorched by fire, knocking out power to the village. Three large water tanks were tipped over and emptied, the residents said.

Palestinians complain bitterly of land lost over the past decades of Mideast conflict. Yanun is believed to the first time in recent years that Palestinians have abandoned an entire village due to the conflict.

Confrontations between Jewish settlers and Palestinians often fall into a murky legal area, with the IDF, the police and the military's civil administration in the territories all being involved to varying degrees.

An IDF spokesman, who did not want his name used, said soldiers try to prevent conflict between settlers and Palestinians, but that forces are primarily in the area to protect Israelis from attacks by Palestinian militants.

Spokesmen for the police and the civil administration could not be reached on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish sabbath. Phone calls to the Yesha Settler's Council, an umbrella group for the settlers, also went unanswered Friday.

The nearby Jewish settlement of Itamar, about 10 kilometers (six miles) to the west, was attacked by a Palestinian gunman on June 20. Five Israelis were killed and eight were injured before the gunman was shot dead.

The residents of Yanun have not been linked to that attack or other violence.

Yanun is an isolated valley hamlet flanked by two illegal outposts on nearby hilltops. The nearest settlement approved by the Israeli government is Itamar.

In Yanun, the men cried as they got into two cars to leave for the larger nearby village of Aqraba, where they believe there will be safety in numbers. They'll live with relatives there or move into rented apartments.

"Death would be easier than leaving," Kamal Sobih said, describing his attachment to the land where generations of his family have lived. "But there is no choice." He said he often spent nights keeping watch for attackers from his windows.

Ahmed Sobih, an elderly man, sat in the back seat of the one of the cars, an Arab head scarf covering his right eye. He said he lost sight in the eye after a beating from an Israeli settler.

He had been tending sheep on the hillside when a stranger approached. Sobih,mistaking the man for someone from a neighboring Arab village, went to shake hands with the man and offer him a cigarette but was beaten with his own walking stick, he said.

The village chief, Abdelatif Sobih, was the last to go. He said he's been attacked seven times and that his wife Raideh threatened to leave him if they didn't abandon the place.

"I kept urging the people not to leave, but they did, one by one," he said, crying. "They left me without a choice. I'm blaming my people as well (as the settlers) because they left me alone."

For more information: +972-56-709603 / +972-3-5565804


---

Transcript of the war crimes panel available on the Gush site
For Hebrew http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum.html
For English http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum_eng.html
French available at request

At request, a selection of documents is also available in Spanish

Also on the site:
photo's - of action or otherwise informative
the weekly Gush Shalom ad - in Hebrew and English
the columns of Uri Avnery - in Hebrew, Arab and English
(and a lot more)
http://www.gush-shalom.org

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