Beta, Occupied West Bank – For the first time since Israeli settlers occupied it, hundreds of Palestinians from this besieged village were able to reach their confiscated land.
As the olive harvest season begins in Palestine, Beitar residents and landowners head to the summit of Jabal Sabih (Mount Sabih) on Sunday to harvest their crops in hopes of being besieged by the Israeli army.
The area has become the site of an illegal Israeli outpost in Ivatar, where dozens of settlers set up convoys under the protection of the Israeli military earlier this year.
“We were all afraid that we would not be able to reach our land,” said Ayesha Khader, a 2-year-old woman whose family owns a plot in Jabal Sabih.
“I couldn’t sleep last night for fear. We were terrified. I was scared for my kids and their kids, for fear of any attack from the settlers [the army] Throw gas bombs at us, “Khadar told Al Jazeera.
Palestinian families reached the edge of their land – about 60 meters (200 feet) from the settlement outpost – guarded by Israeli troops.
Land under threat
Jabal Sabih, a Palestinian village on the southern outskirts of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, has been the scene of intense fighting this year after numerous attempts by Israeli settlers to occupy Palestinian territory.
In May 2021, about 50 Israeli settlers moved to Jabal Sabih, a sprawling area of about 5 acres in Israel. Their presence, including the army, for their security means Palestinians are unable to enter their territory.
After Better’s daily protests, clashes and “night distractions” prevention activities began in March, the settlers were evacuated in early July. But the army is stationed there, guarding the caravans and preventing the Palestinians from reaching their land.
Israeli occupation forces have shot dead seven Palestinians with live ammunition since the start of the conflict in Beita on September 2, the latest in a series of shootings.
The area is under threat of being formally confiscated by the Israeli military, who may declare it “state land” or turn it into a military base.
As the olive harvest season begins, Better Palestinian residents say they have decided to come together and work on their land, despite the presence of the Israeli army.
“We cannot give up any of these trees. They are like our souls and much more, ”said Khadar. “Palestinian farmers cannot survive without their oil. We depend on olive oil in all aspects of our lives. “
Linah Maouz al-Deir, another Beitar resident, told Al Jazeera that she went to Jabal Sabih to help her uncle’s family cut down olive trees, despite fears of a possible attack by the Israeli army.
“Olive harvest day is a beautiful, special and tiring day. But it has been damaged by fear of Israeli occupation,” he said.
“We cannot leave our land. My father and uncle inherited it from my grandfather and they all worked very hard at it. Many young people were martyred in this land. I hope it stays with us forever. ”
Another farmer, Hilal Ahmad Khader Budair (722), told Al Jazeera that he owned four dunams (0.5 hectares) of land in Jabal Sabih, in which he planted 655 olive trees.
“We were afraid to come because we knew it was an enemy with no mercy,” Budair said, “but we had some hope that the army would withdraw.
The retired school teacher said he inherited his land from his father and grandfather. “This land was formed with the blood of martyrs, with the sweat and tears of our family, so how can we give it up?
“We would come here and not have to worry about the Israelis in the whole area. It is our soil, our land and our olives. We are the rightful heirs of this land. ”
Although olive trees are generally the primary source of livelihood for Palestinian farmers, this reality is more specific to Beita, Budair said.
“There is not a centimeter of beta land that is not planted with olive trees. We did not plant any other trees because it is a hilly area, and in the past, it was difficult to come to this area and it was difficult to transport water here, ”he explained.
“We initially relied on this blessed tree – it doesn’t require as much care as other trees,” Budair said.
Beitar residents have vowed to continue their protests until the Israeli military leaves the outpost.
Munir Mohammad Khadair said he came “to help people choose olives and to support their presence on this land”.
Khadeer told Al Jazeera that he found the presence of many Palestinians on Sunday “very important.”
“Everyone has come to take part in the olive harvest today – an indication of the invaluable value of the land.”