On the morning of 3 October 2021, a town resident noticed settlers picking olives in a grove that belongs to another resident, Khalil Isma’il. The grove is surrounded by the fence of the settlement of Ariel, and Isma’il is required to request permission from the military to reach it. The days allotted to him by the military were scheduled for the following week. When Isma’il learned that settlers were harvesting on his land, he reported the matter to the Palestinian DCO and received permission to go to his grove with a representative of the Salfit Municipality and a representative of the Palestinian DCO. An Israel Police car was waiting for them there. When the three arrived at the grove, a settlers’ car with sacks full of olives inside drove off, without anyone stopping it. Isma’il estimates that the settlers stole about 1,700 kilograms of his olives. About an hour later, Israeli DCO representatives arrived and ordered Isma’il to leave his land and file a complaint at the Ariel police station, which he did.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 6 October 2021, Khalil Isma’il (46), a father of five, described how settlers stole his olives:
When I got to my land, I saw a car that belongs to settlers with sacks of olives they’d harvested off my land inside it. The car left the grove immediately. I told the police officer who was there that he had to stop the car because it had sacks of my olives in it, but he didn’t care and told me that the settler had nothing in there.
They only let me stay on my land for about an hour. When I checked the grove, the damage was clear. There were olives and broken branches scattered on the ground, and it was obvious the settlers had picked the olives with new devices designed for harvesting. I checked the area they’d harvested – it’s around five dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of large olive trees. I estimate they stole 1,700 to 2,000 kilograms. They probably started harvesting a few days earlier. The sight broke my heart. I’m still angry and sad.
The Israel DCO representative asked the police officer if he knew those settlers, and the officer answered that he had the names and details of the four settlers who had been in the grove.
I went home, took the land deeds and went to the Israel Police. I gave them video footage and photos clearly showing the settlers stealing the olives, and filed a complaint. Now I’m waiting to be able to go with my family to our land on the day scheduled for us, next Sunday, 10 October 2021, to harvest what’s left after the settlers stole the olives.