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Daily Israel Report

'Olive Harvest Time an Opportunity for Troublemakers'

Not all participants in the olive harvest in Judea and Samaria come for the olives, says an Israeli from Elon Moreh
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/16/2012, 10:02 PM

Arabs harvesting olives
Arabs harvesting olives
Flash90

It's October, which means that the olive trees are ready to give forth their fruit. And with olive harvesting an important aspect of the Palestinian Authority's economy, tens of thousands of PA farmers, wives and kids in tow, are out in the fields pulling olives off hundreds of thousands of olive trees. Olive harvesting is such an important component of PA society and so important to its economy, the IDF stations troops in many areas to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

Apparently, however, not all those joining the harvest are interested in olives, says Sharya Demsky, a resident of Elon Moreh and head of the Agricultural Committee of Samaria and Binyamin. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Demsky said that reports of disturbances during the harvest – with PA leaders often accusing Israel of encouraging unrest by instructing Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria to interfere with Arab farmers whose only activity is to pick olives – are not always accurate. “There are some people who come to the fields not to collect money, but to cause trouble and provoke Israelis living in the area, and/or IEF troops.

“The army is out in force for this, and watches the harvest closely,” said Demsky. “Everything is coordinated with and by the IDF and the local and regional councils in Judea and Samaria.” Thus, said Demsky, there was no reason for there to be any unrest or untoward incidents during the harvest.

If there are such incidents, said Demsky, it's due to Arab anti-Israel agitation, with radicals starting trouble specifically to blame loval residents of the Strip.

A recent arrest – and later release – of a group of Jews who were arrested for allegedly cutting down Arab olive trees near their town was proof of the Arab provocation, said Demsky. “The Arabs near Elon Moreh tried to destroy some trees themselves and blame in on Jews,” and fortunately they were caught. Nevertheless, there are other attempts that have succeeded, and the media immediately pumps the story up using only the Arab version. “There are many leftists and anarchists who come to allegedly “help” with the harvest, but whose real job is to start trouble that will make Israeli or Israelis look bad.

Within a few weeks the harvest will be over, and things will hopefully return to normal. “We will of course remain on alert,” said Demsky. “We need a large group to ensure that Arabs do not tear down trees, and ensure that they restrict their activities to olive harvesting,” he added.