Bruqin - Coordination and settlers' violence

It’s the first day of the olive harvest. Farah has waited for this day all year. Throughout the year she tried to remember her olive trees, the smell of the land, the sun that filters through the branches of its ancient and powerful trees at dawn. For a whole year, she hoped that her field would not be vandalized by the settlers of Bruchin, the settlement just outside her land.
They are all at work: her brother, her four children, and her husband. Sometimes Farah looks at the soldiers not so far from them. They are four, with their khaki uniforms and their M-16 held tightly. They are near the jeep, showing no interest in anything that surrounds them. Farah is not quiet. The soldiers are there to protect them from the settlers, in case of need. She knows it. But she is still not quiet. The soldiers are not on their side, they’ve never been.
While she is loading a sack on the truck, she hears voices coming from the settlement, right behind her. Shortly after, four settlers appear. They are young. They get close to the jeep, where the soldiers greet them with big smiles, shaking hands, and hugs. They start to talk altogether and then a soldier nods at Farah and her family, who in the meantime are still working, pretending nothing is happening.

They must pretend nothing, they must continue to work: they have only six days to pick olives and finish the work. One of the settlers comes near the field and starts to speak in Hebrew. The brother of Farah, who knows a little bit the language, says: “we don’t want problems, we are only collecting olives from our field. We are doing nothing bad”. The settler doesn’t answer, gazes at him straight in the eye for a few seconds, and then spits in his direction. Farah hears the laughing coming from the jeep. The soldiers don’t even pretend to refrain from laughing - so much for protection, she thinks.
After a while, the settlers approach the tractor, start to kick it. The soldiers rush, speak with the settlers who go away, and order to Farah and her family to leave, to return home because the situation could get worse and they wouldn’t be safe. A confrontation begins, the whole family takes part in it: nobody has the intention to leave; all, included her four children, claim their right to remain on their land at least for those few hours established by the agreement.
Then something happens. The husband of Farah, who is on the tractor, is surrounded by a large group of settlers. Farah hasn’t seen them arrived. They scream, block the man on the tractor and start to hit him. Farah screams. It’s a scream full of rage, of pain, of powerlessness. With a misty-eyed, but disdainful look, she looks at the soldier who repeats to leave. How can they continue to do nothing? They don’t even try to stop the settlers who are beating her husband, and the deluge of sexist and racist insults on her and her daughters. They should protect them from the settlers, shouldn't they? But the soldiers don’t do anything, and even Farah can’t do anything. She hugs one of her daughters who, full of terror, can’t hold her tears. They can’t do anything, only return the next day, and the day after and the day after that, and for all the days that shall be granted to them.

In 2019, nearly 90 Palestinian communities have asked for “prior coordination” during the olive harvest. These communities have their lands nearby, or sometimes inside, Israeli settlements, in areas where there have been attacks by settlers during the previous years. These permits are generally granted for a limited number of days, very often not enough time to get the job done. The access to the land is allowed only during the harvest and plowing seasons, hampering the farmers to carry out essential maintenance work.
The Israeli authorities declared these lands closed military areas, accessible by owners only with previous authorization – prior coordination – given by the Israeli Civil Administration (DCO) so that the military should protect from the settlers.
However, the presence of the army and the respect of the scheduled times – provided for by the coordination – to remain on the lands is not taken for granted. Rather it is still under the discretion of the soldiers themselves. Not even their presence guarantees any kind of security since they don’t always prevent or stop the aggressions coming from Israeli settlers.