October 18, 2010

Israeli forces detain journalists, government employees helping harvest olives


Ma'an - NABLUS – Israeli forces on Thursday detained a group of journalists and government employees who were helping to harvest olives in a Nablus village, a Palestinian Authority ministry said.

The PA Information Ministry organized a volunteering day for approximately 40 journalists and 20 ministry employees to help villagers in Kafr Qaddum pick olives. A ministry statement said Israeli forces surrounded the volunteers and threatened to shoot them if they moved.

An Israeli military spokesman was not immediately familiar with the incident, but said he would look into it.

Israeli rights groups wrote to Israeli authorities Monday asking them to instruct security forces to protect Palestinians during the olive harvest, noting that olive-picking is "often disturbed by extremists among the settlers, who take the law to their hands and carry out crimes." The groups reminded officials of Israel's obligation under international law to protect residents of territories which it occupies.

Israeli residents of the illegal West Bank settlement of Yitzhar in Nablus have been disrupting the olive harvest in the nearby Burin village since the season began in early October.

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