It was the first time Hashem Al Azzeh could harvest his olives in five years. Living directly next door to the Tel Rumeida settlement, which like all West Bank settlements is illegal under international law, he has faced years of harassment and violence from some of Israel’s most ideological settlers. But this year, having coordinated with the proper authorities, he planned to quickly and quietly harvest the few trees standing between his house and the caravans stacked on top of each other to form the Jewish enclave just up the hill.
Accompanied by a handful of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers, and later by his children as they returned home from school, they made relatively short work of the few trees there–many of the olives had already been picked by the settlers. One of the ISMers was an experienced tree pruner who used his skills to trim the neglected trees back into proper shape. Just as he was cutting a few final branches on the last and most ancient olive tree, they were interrupted by the shouts of settler men charging into the small grove.
From the ISM report:
The situation quickly escalated as settlers pushed the Palestinians in order to try and enter Hasham’s house. Within ten minutes the soldiers arrived and began to separate the Palestinian family and internationals and siding with the Israeli settlers. Arguments continued with both sides yelling “this is my land,” regardless of the fact that Hashem has the deeds to the land. The settlers were also heard shouting “This is not your land, this is the land of the Jewish people.”
At this point around ten more settlers had come down and joined in, shouting abuse at Hasham and his family. The soldiers pushed the Palestinians and internationals back towards Hasham’s house threatening to arrest anyone who did not obey. The soldiers grabbed a young Palestinian man by the name of Ahmad Al Atrash who was video taping standing behind international activists: pushed him against the wall and zip-tied his arms behind his back.
Then they went after an international activist, trying to arrest him for taking video footage. While [he was] trying to escape they grabbed another of the international activists standing by, put him in a headlock on the ground and arrested him. Jawad Abu Eisheh who had arrived in solidarity with his neighbors was also captured and arrested.
Following the arrests, other officers arriving on the scene later acknowledged that the land and trees belonged to the Al Azzeh family, but ordered them to stay off of the property for the rest of the day. The Palestinians and international volunteer were released later that evening after being taken to the police station at the nearby Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba.
The arrests were also captured on video: