Settlers clash with Palestinians during IDF-approved olive harvest
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Settlers clash with Palestinians during IDF-approved olive harvest

After scuffle, army allows Hawara residents to resume picking their trees in orchard near Yitzhar settlement

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. Israeli settlers uproot Palestinian olive trees adjacent to the village of Kalil on September 15, 2017. (Yesh Din)
Illustrative. Israeli settlers uproot Palestinian olive trees adjacent to the village of Kalil on September 15, 2017. (Yesh Din)

A group of Israelis attacked Palestinians during an IDF-approved olive harvest in orchards outside the village of Hawara in the northern West Bank on Sunday, according to a left-wing Jewish group.

“Extremist Israelis attacked Palestinians and set fire to the orchard in Hawara, next to Yizhar,” Rabbis for Human Rights said in a statement, citing eyewitness accounts of activists at the scene.

It was not immediately clear if the Israelis were from the Yitzhar settlement.

The IDF confirmed that there had been a violent clash, but would not comment on who started it.

An army spokesperson said that shortly after the fight broke out, soldiers arrived at the scene and separated the two groups.

The Palestinians were quickly allowed to continue picking olives as part of the annual harvest, the spokesperson said.

The Israel Police, which had officers at the scene, did not make any arrests. A spokesperson said “there was no attack, but rather it was an argument. The IDF broke it up.”

The olive harvest was coordinated with and approved by the Israeli army.

Israel is required, following a Supreme Court decision, to allow Palestinians to harvest their olive crops every year.

The harvest is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers that the IDF says it seeks to prevent.

Palestinian media and liberal non-governmental organizations have reported multiple cases of Israelis interfering with the annual harvest, attacking Palestinians, stealing olives and uprooting trees.

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