IDF to Ban Jews in Certain Arab Olive Harvest Areas

Israeli and PA officials have mapped out where the Jews will be allowed to travel during the annual olive harvest season in Judea and Samaria.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Olive and other trees in South Hevron Hills
Olive and other trees in South Hevron Hills
Israel News Photo: (Hana Levi Julian)

Israeli security officials have been meeting with their counterparts in the Palestinian Authority to map out where the Jews will be allowed travel this year during the annual olive harvest season in Judea and Samaria.


Invariably, PA Arabs accuse the Jewish residents in the area who live in nearby communities each year of interfering with the olive picking and damaging the trees. Previous photographs of olive trees that allegedly were damaged often have proven to be a hoax, or the simply the result of pruning by Arab farmers.


"In general, access to most of olive growing regions in Judea and Samaria will not require coordination with the IDF and Civil Administration," said the IDF in a statement announcing the restrictions. "However, as a result of experience from recent years and due to the prevailing security conditions, entry into certain limited areas during the harvest must be coordinated with the IDF and Civil Administration.


"In addition, Israeli civilians will not be permitted to enter particular olive growing areas, in order to prevent friction. Representatives of the Civil Administration, Israel Police and IDF will be present in these areas," said the IDF statement.


Top officials from the IDF, the Civil Administration and Israel Police have been meeting with their PA counterparts to map out plans to increase security during the olive harvest, which lasts from October through December. Representatives of the various PA villages as well as officials from the PA Olive Oil Department were present at the meetings as well.


A number of accommodations were made to make life easier for PA farmers picking their olives. The IDF says it will lengthen the hours for which the gates to the olive orchards would remain open during the season. In addition, permits to harvest olives in the seam zone (the area of the former "Green Line" marking the 1947 armistice line) have been granted to some 3,000 PA workers for the duration of the harvest, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Office.


Segal: IDF Measures Meant to Bolster 'Lawless' Image

Widely respected journalist Haggai Segal charged Monday in response to the announcement that not only are the precautions unnecessary, the actual violence by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria is "miniscule" compared to that perpetrated by PA Arabs.


"The incidents of settler violence towards Palestinians are nothing compared to the many thousands of incidents in the reverse direction.  In the last (Jewish calendar) year, a relatively quiet year, eight settlers were murdered by Palestinians," said Segal.  


"Some 6,000 fruit bearing trees were uprooted this past summer in one night in a Jewish orchard in Binyamin, twice the number of olive trees that the Palestinians claimed were uprooted in the last three years, but the Leftist propaganda machine succeeded that only the few incidents in which some annoyed Jews followed suit are engraved in the public's awareness.


"All the descriptions of police ignoring settler crime are demagoguery meant to strengthen the image of Judea and Samaria as a lawless place.  Yes, the police don't always capture the criminals, but in Gush Dan (AL: Tel Aviv metropolis) the police also barely catch anyone," he noted.