The Israeli army has demanded that Israelis and foreigners, who are
escorting Palestinian farmers during this year’s olive harvest to
protect them from Israeli settler attacks, not participate in this
year’s action, according to Palestinian sources in northern West Bank
city of Nablus.


Upon receiving formal complaints from illegal Israeli settlers that Israelis and foreigners are provoking them, the Israeli forces have demanded that olive farmers prevent all outside entities from participating in this year’s olive harvest, suggesting that the army is merely caving into the settlers’ demands rather than protecting farmers and their protectors.    

The Civil Administration released a memo in 2005 to Israeli forces addressing the olive-picking season: "Involvement of various entities, Israeli and foreign, is expected, as an 'aid' to the Palestinians in the harvest and as a motive for creating provocations."

In 2006 the Samaria Regional Brigade issued a contradictory report titled the “Olive Harvest Order: Key lessons from the previous year” that stated: Working axis vis-a-vis leftist organizations: During the harvest season the left appeared largely as a coordinating force and for the most part offered no provocations. The best and most effective axis for maintaining communication is between the implementers [i.e., the olive-pickers – A.H.] and the organizations."

The Israeli forces are following two but contradictory policies, which makes it difficult for farmers and activists to know what the exact rules are. The harvest season began in Nablus last week.  In the nearby village of Burin, Israeli activists were at first prevented from escorting the farmers, but were allowed to enter several days later without any stated reason. 

Last Tuesday, according to Haaretz, farmers could not access their land and were only able to enter after activists from Rabbis for Human Rights demanded that the soldiers allow them passage.

An Israeli army spokesman explained that the Israeli army’s regional command now requires previous notice of anyone planning to enter limited areas during the harvest, but added that most agricultural lands in the West Bank are fully accessible to farmers and Israeli civilians. 

Sourced from Haaretz