I live in Far’ata. My house is in the center of the village. I live with my wife and daughter. I have four married children and each of them lives in their own home. I work as a farmer in my village and on my land. I have 50 dunams which all have olive trees on them. Part of the land – 18 dunams – is on the eastern side of the village and, and part is on the southern side.
It’s impossible to cultivate, plow, and harvest the land on the eastern side without coordinating with the army, because settlers from Havat Gilad put up a house, an encampment and a mobile home on my land. The mobile home has been there since 2006. I filed complaints and it still hasn’t been removed.
I have nearly 420 olive trees on this plot, the trees are 60 years old. I go to this plot only in coordination with the army. Sometimes, even when we go harvest after we coordinate, the settlers attack us and bother us. In 2006, they hit my son over the head with a crowbar and broke his shoulder. The army evacuated him to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.
Every year during plowing season, the DCO coordinates and we go to plow and cultivate and even spray against the weeds to prevent fires. The plot is 1- 1.5 km from the center of Far’ata.
I have another 28-dunam plot on the southern side of Far’ata, which doesn’t require coordination and I do plow and harvest there without any problems. There are about 700 olive trees on this plot, they are 14-20 years old.
On October 17, 2017, the residents of Far’ata had coordinated to go to our plots to harvest the olive trees in the area by the settlement Havat Gilad. At 7:00 am, my wife, my boys and grandchildren and I, six people, left with our tractor to go to the plot.
In the middle of the road, before you reach the plot there’s an iron gate and the army was right by the gate, along with soldiers from the Israeli DCO and police. There were around 12 soldiers, including the Israeli DCO and police officers. Together with them was a settler, who stood next to them. We know this settler, he lives in Havat Gilad. This settler tried to prevent us from going to our plots with the tractor and prevented our neighbor from going to his plot with his donkey. We stayed standing by the gate until 8 am. Then Zacharia from Rabbis for Human Rights arrived, and he spoke with the DCO and only then did the DCO let us in.
Description of the settler: height 1.70-1.80 meters, with a full beard, roughly 40. He was wearing a coat and I didn’t see whether he was armed or not. He was wearing a hat and had sidelocks. I could identify him out of 500 people.
We spoke to the Israeli DCO and asked to enter with the tractor as we do every year. The DCO allowed us to and we entered with the tractor, accompanied by the DCO and the police. The DCO went ahead and the police brought up the rear. The settler stayed by the gate because there were more farmers who wanted to pass.
We went to the plot and discovered that some of the trees had been harvested by settlers, who had stolen all the olives from them. At the plot we found iron rods, sticks and lots of olives on the ground. They harvested the olives with sticks, so many branches were broken off the trees. When I saw that, I immediately went to the DCO officer and asked him to come and see the condition the trees were in. He told us not to go back to the plot and not pick or do anything because he was calling more police officers. We waited for two hours in the field, and then one of the police officers from the squad parked by the plot took my testimony in the field and asked me to go to the DCO in Huwarah with the deeds, there’s a policeman there to whom we should give the documents.
We discovered that olives had been stolen from 250 trees, and that the branches and trees had been harmed with sticks and iron rods. The damage to the trees affects them for a several years. They asked me again not to do anything until the Israeli DCO infrastructure officer arrived. He arrived around noon and we went to the plot with him and counted the trees. He examined the damage and told me to take pictures. The officer told me he came to this area in September and had seen these trees full of olives, and now we saw that all [the fruit from] these trees had been stolen. The officer told me to stay in the field, collect the olives from the ground and harvest the olives from the remaining trees, to take as long as I needed, he would allow us to come and finish.
I had less than 200 kilos of olives left after the theft. I called the [Palestinan] ministry of agriculture that day in Qalqiliyah and they came; from what they saw, they said over 4,500 kilos of olives had been stolen. The damage is 750 liters of oil, which is roughly ILS 25,000.