Jews living in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) have argued for years that many Arabs in the region use the olive harvest as a pretext to prepare the ground for attacks on Israeli communities.
The annual harvest often leads to conflict as Arabs and foreign left-wing activists insist on entering Jewish communities to pick olives – including communities where the olive harvest formerly led to fatal terrorism. The IDF provides them with security.
Now, a new video filmed by Jews in Givat Ronen, near the Samaria town of Itamar, has revealed Arab “farmers” openly threatening terrorism, while filming Jewish homes and security arrangements.
The video shows roughly 20 Arab men who have gathered near Itamar, ostensibly to harvest olives. While some collect olives, others can be seen taking the opportunity to get photos and video footage of nearby Jewish homes.
One can be seen using his machete to deliberately make a throat-cutting gesture.
The footage was particularly chilling given the community’s recent history. Three years ago, an Arab “olive farmer” near Itamar took advantage of the harvest to take note of the town’s security arrangements; he later returned with a young relative and murdered Ehud and Ruth Fogel and three of their six children as they lay sleeping in their beds.
“Two months before the murder of the members of the Fogel family, there was an olive harvest just like this one. Dozens of Arabs came to the town, ostensibly to harvest olives, and among them were the murderers, who filmed residents’ homes,” recalled the head of the community’s security apparatus, Shauli Hayoun.
“I warned the soldiers not to let them film, and in the end there was a terrorist attack here. Their response was ‘there’s nothing we can do,’” he accused.
“Today things continue as they were. The army keeps letting them come in. The next terrorist attack will take place under the auspices of the IDF,” he charged, adding, “Arabs infiltrated the town just yesterday.”
“Today they’re here to ‘pick olives’ and gather information, in the past they came to attack. I don’t understand why the army keeps letting them come so close to [Israeli] communities,” he concluded.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika has proposed that the olive harvest undergo a radical change. In a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, he suggested that instead of Arabs harvesting olives, “a mutually agreed-upon third party be brought in to conduct the harvest.”
Mesika also proposed that Israel block Arabs from harvesting olives within Israeli communities, and pay them compensation for the lost produce. The compensation will be much cheaper than the long-term cost in military resources spent bringing Arabs and foreign leftists into Israeli towns, he said.