According to the Israeli internal defense establishment, the current olive harvest has been the most violent of the last several years, due to fact that trees on both sides have been cut down, poisoned or torched.Despite security preparations, the current olive harvest, that was started two weeks ago in the West Bank, have ended with some 500 Palestinian trees and 100 Jewish trees vandalized. In addition, a Palestinian horse was stabbed.
In previous years, most of the friction took place during the day near settlements. But this year, most of the violence has taken place at night, when soldiers and police are not deployed in the areas.
On Monday, a group of olive trees in Luban al-Sharkiya was torched near the fence separating Luban from the settlement of Eli. While Luban residents claim the vandals were settlers, the settlers say it was a pruning fire that got out of control. In addition, a Israeli security service patrol arrested a teenage Jewish girl stoning Arab cars on Route 60.
Also, a verbal confrontation erupted near Har Bracha, between Jewish farmer Erez Ben Sa’adon and Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the head of Rabbis for Human Rights. Ascherman claimed Ben Sa’adon was harvesting olives that belonged to Palestinians from nearby Karyut. Ben Sa’adon, whose nearby vineyard had been destroyed by unidentified parties the previous night, said he had leased that plot for the past 12 years and the olives were his. Civil Administration officials were called to resolve the dispute, and they summoned the mayor of Karyut – who admitted that the trees belonged to Ben Sa’adon.
In response to this pattern of violence, the security services decided over the weekend to alter their activity: Instead of protecting Palestinian harvesters on site, they plan to conduct patrols and ambushes to try to catch the vandals.