Haris - Protests on Fridays over settlers harassment and the cutting down of olive trees

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Micky Fischer (reports) Translator: Charles K.

A demonstration in Haris on Friday, 3.7.20, and a telephone report of settler harassment in the Salfit area.

On Friday, July 3, the weekly demonstration in Haris was held at the hour of the noon prayer.  Demonstrations have continued for six weeks since an olive grove of 200 trees near Revava had been cut down in the middle of the night.  A complaint was filed but no one has been arrested and no investigation has begun.  Residents of Haris suspect settlers because bulldozers are parked near the land in the area of Revava.  During the past four weeks, residents marched about 300 meters along the road from the village to a location adjacent to the damaged grove and conducted a protest worship service.

Activists from Engaged Dharma, Combatants for Peace, and Between Fences joined the weekly demonstration.

Last week the army prevented the march and didn’t allow people to leave the village.

This week also, on Friday, 3.7.20, the army arrived by 11:30, lowered the yellow barrier at the village entrance, and prevented the residents from leaving.  They gathered, together with the Israelis, and attempted to leave but the army threatened with tear gas so they conducted protest worship beside the yellow barrier.  Some 100 Palestinians participated, residents of the village as well as from Salfit and Deir Istiya, along with Israelis, in solidarity and to demand an investigation.  After the prayers, there were speeches and information provided about the situation and the difficulties they face.  The reinforced military units prevented people from leaving the village and photographed the demonstrators.  When the prayers ended people dispersed and the yellow barrier opened so vehicles could leave.

Three days earlier trees had been cut down in a grove between Salfit and Kifl Haris, and a week earlier, on Saturday, “hilltop youth” settlers came to a grove near Kifl Haris and beat two weekend cultivators – a lecturer from Al Najah University and a merchant with an entry permit to Israel – until they bled.  The two were taken to the Nablus hospital.  Apparently, they’ve already been discharged.

In response, seven protest worships were held this Friday afternoon in area villages – in Haris, Brukin, Kifl Haris, Deir Balut, Salfit, and two more locations whose names I don’t remember.  They plan to continue every Friday until the harassment ends.  I’m told some residents have been reluctant to join the demonstrations because they received phone calls from the Shabak warning them not to participate or they’ll be arrested.

The situation is escalating.  The “hilltop youth” and the settlers harass the farmers in broad daylight in their groves, and given the army’s behavior during the past two weeks, we can expect escalation in the reactions between the army and the weekly worship protests.