Israeli Occupation Authorities Forbid Olive Picking in ‘Asira al Qibliya

Israeli Occupation Authorities Forbid Olive Picking in ‘Asira al Qibliya
Violation: Landlords were banned from reaching their lands, and the place was turned into an Israeli army camp.
Date of violation: October 10, 2009
Violators: The Israeli occupation armed forces together with settlers from Yizhar settlement.
Victims: Farmers and residents of Al-Thahra in ‘Asira al Qibliya. See Map 1

Yizhar settlers accompanied by Israeli forces banned large number of ‘Asira al Qibliya’s farmers from reaching their land in Al-Thahira, Al-Shela, and Al-Khasfa areas located south east of ‘Asira al Qibliya; they justified their act by security reasons. On October 10, 2009 the occupation forces installed an outpost in Al-Thahra in order to observe the area and prevent the farmers from reaching their lands for olive picking. Although there were promises from what is called the district coordination office to facilitate the reach of Palestinians to their lands but the poor farmers saw no facilities.
It must be pointed that the said areas (Al-Thahira, Al-Shela, and Al-Khasfa), are about 2 km2, and are located next to Yizhar settlement which was built on land used to belong to farmers from ‘Asira al Qibliya, Urif, and Burin in Nablus district. The lands there are mostly planted (70% grains, 30% olive trees).
60% of  2500 people, the population of ‘Asira al Qibliya own land in the said areas and they were not able to reach their lands since the year 2000 except by taking permissions from what is called the civil administration which gives no permissions except in certain times of the year including olive picking and wheat harvesting seasons. Nevertheless, not a year passed without recording abuse of farmers by settlers. Violations included assaulting the farmers, preventing them from reaching their lands, burning their crops, theft of the crops, and even shooting at them, and all of that done under the protection of the Israeli army.
Many complaints were delivered to the Israeli authorities through different human rights organizations, but their efforts where futile. On the contrary, settlers are creating new ways of agonizing farmers everyday.
Waterless Village:
Two thirds of’Asira al Qibliya population depend on a well near the village for their daily water supply, the well is located in Al-Thahira. Since 2004, the Israeli army has prevented the village senate of ‘Asira al Qibliya from making maintenance works necessary to re-operate the water pumping system which pumps the water to a central tank before distributing the water to the different parts of the village.
Since 2005, the Israeli army had barricaded the well and changed the water route to make it supply Yizhar settlement. The village has lost its main water supply despite the efforts made through humanitarian organizations and the Red Cross.
Currently, people of ‘Asira al Qibliya use water supply trucks to bring in the needed water to the village, it costs the villagers about 15 shekels per 1 m3. This is considered costly for the residents whom 60% of them are unemployed.
‘Asira al Qibliya village senate president stated:’ ‘Asira al Qibliya well was the main water source in the village, people took advantage of the location of the well and plantedthe surroundings of the well, the village was one of the few self sufficient villages in the west bank. However, since the occupation authorities established Yizhar, the confiscated farmers land, prevented farmers from reaching their lands, and took over the most important water source. The wretched village suffers from shortage of water, and as a result shortage of agricultural lands.

Picture 1: Yizhar settlement standing beside ‘Asira al Qibliya

General Information about ‘Asira al Qibliya:
‘Asira al Qibliyais located 12 km south of Nablus city; it is surrounded by the villages of Fer’ata, Tell, Jamma’in, and ‘Urif. Its total area is about 14 km2, 3 km2 were confiscated and used for the enlargement of Yizhar. Moreover, there are 2 km2 that are considered a military zone and the locals are not allowed to reach.
The residential area in the village is about 0.2 km2 and the rest is agricultural lands (60% olive trees, 40% grains). ‘Asira al Qibliya population is estimated to be 2500 people where 300 of them are refugees.
Picture 2: Yizhar settlement beside ‘Asira al Qibliya
Picture 3: Al-Thahira, on top of it a watch tower and an Israeli outpost.

Categories: Agriculture