FARATA'A, Palestinian Territories — Thick black smoke billows from the olive grove under the gaze of Israeli soldiers as Palestinian farmers use branches to try to beat out the fires lit by Jewish settlers.It's olive harvest time in the occupied West Bank.The firebombers swooped down from Havat Gilad, a wildcat Jewish settlement unauthorised even by the Israeli government.
A few hours earlier, in the village of Azmut near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, a group of youths from the settlement of Elon Moreh, four kilometres (two and a half miles) away, dispersed Palestinian olive harvesters with shots in the air, witnesses said.The settlers said they had come under attack first."We began the harvest at 7 am. At 9 am while we were having breakfast, they turned up with these automatic weapons," said Pauline Marechal, a 57-year-old Frenchwoman."They began firing in the air. The children were screaming and crying. The settlers were chanting: 'Out. Out'," said Marechal, an activist with the Palestinian solidarity group, Darna, which helps villagers with the olive harvest each October.
And the final button:
The Israeli army says it does all it can to protect Palestinian olive growers. So far this year there have been no casualties at least. But neither have the police made any arrests.