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Israeli troops protect Palestinians

  1. demon7

    258 Posts.

    ISRAELI troops in the West Bank were yesterday taking the unusual step of protecting Palestinian olive farmers from Israeli settlers.

    The turnaround followed the harassment of Palestinian villagers by armed Israeli settlers who have refused, ostensibly for security reasons, to let the farmers pick olives from their trees near the settlements.

    One Palestinian was shot dead by settlers last week and in some cases the settlers have confiscated crops, saying they want to discourage the farmers from returning.

    After the olive picking season began last week, Israelis from a peace camp joined Palestinian farmers at the olive groves and have been involved in confrontations with hardline settlers.

    Army reaction was initially confused, with some local commanders saying the police should handle the situation.

    Other commanders gave villagers their telephone numbers and asked them to call if approached by settlers. Many of them did subsequently intercede with their troops.

    Israeli chief of staff General Moshe Yaalon told the Knesset yesterday the army would continue to provide security for the Palestinian farmers, implying that successive Israeli governments had been lax in their attitudes toward the settlers.

    "I have been dissatisfied with the level of law enforcement in the territories for many years. The reasons for this lack of enforcement are complex but they do not lie solely in the military sphere," General Yaalon said.

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