AL ‘ASAKIRA, BETHLEHEM:
Bacground: Olive picking event. Biddu village, October 2014
❝We are optimistic that the legal aid will help us regain our land despite settler attacks and intimidation.❞
These were the words of Sa’ed Salameh al Asakreh, now 63 years old, when we visited him in 2014, after the olive harvest season.
Like other farmers from Al ‘Asakira village and the neighbouring communities, he was permitted in 2014 to reach his olive groves, near an Israeli settlement, for the first time in over a decade.
Land belonging to these communities was cultivated in the past with olive trees and seasonal crops such as wheat and barley and constituted the main source of income for the owners’ families.
However, since the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, these farmers were subjected to systematic violence and intimidation by Israeli settlers that reduced, and then prevented, them from accessing these areas.
Following a legal intervention in 2014 by the Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights, the Israeli Civil Administration declared a number of the affected plots as closed military areas.
This prohibited access by Israeli settlers to the area and required landowners to obtain a special authorization (known as ‘prior coordination’) to enter it.
Subsequently, two periods were allocated to the farmers for coordinated access under the protection of Israeli forces.