How many Israeli soldiers does it take to keep an elderly Palestinian woman from harvesting her olives?

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The headline sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but it is an unfortunate reality of life in the West Bank. We are in the middle of the olive harvest season and with it comes episodes of violence as well the harsh face of Israeli occupation. The above video taken last Saturday by a group of Ta’ayush activists is a small window into the strange reality of the Kafkaesque occupation where every detail of Palestinian life requires a permit which is unattainable. The video does not include subtitles from Hebrew but the basic plot is clear: Israeli activists assist Palestinian farmers harvest olives. The army arrives and informs everyone that they do not have the proper permit to be there. The permit is virtually impossible to obtain because of the nature of Israeli settlement security procedure and the unwillingness of the Israeli government to grant Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills basic civil privileges such as building additions to their homes, digging a well or harvesting olives.  The army arrests those Israelis (such as Ezra Nawi) who engage in non-violent civil disobedience.

The image of ten Israeli soldiers escorting an elderly Palestinian woman away from her olive groves seems to encapsulate so much of what the Israeli occupation has become (that portion of the video begins at 4:00); poorly educated and nationalistic young men forced to escort, humiliate and occupy elderly Palestinians who are simply trying to pursue their humble livelihood.

A version of this post originally appeared on Joseph Dana’s blog.

About Joseph Dana

Joseph Dana is a writer and journalist based in the West Bank. His work has appeared in The Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, London Review of Books, The National (UAE), Monocle, Al Jazeera English, The Forward, and The Mail & Guardian among other international publications. Dana is an associate producer of Just Vision's new documentary Home Front: Portraits from Shiekh Jarrah. Before devoting himself full time to journalism, Dana studied Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Central European University in Budapest.

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