Israeli Settler Shoots Bilal While Harvesting Olives in Occupied West Bank

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Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, was the site of a tragic incident on Saturday morning. Bilal Mohammad Saleh, a hardworking 40-year-old, was shot and killed by an Israeli settler while harvesting olives on his family’s inherited land. Bilal’s uncle, Yasir Shaheen, describes him as a man who had struggled his whole life after being orphaned at a young age. According to Yasir, the Israeli army had warned the family to leave their land, as they knew an attack by settlers was imminent, but did nothing to prevent it.

Bilal was not only a farmer but also a familiar face in downtown Ramallah, where he used to sell herbs and wild plants that he collected from the hills near his village. He dropped out of school and worked as a tiler before turning to herb selling. Apart from herbs, Bilal also sold figs and prickly pears in their respective seasons, and he also harvested olives when the time came. Hazem Shaheen, Bilal’s brother-in-law, reveals that the family had been attacked by settlers from Rahalim in the past while harvesting olives, with the Israeli army providing protection to the settlers.

The villagers of al-Sawiya, where Bilal lived, face constant harassment and attacks from settlers living in nearby illegal Israeli settlements. Al-Sawiya’s residents, numbering 3,500, own 12,000 dunums of land, but due to Israeli restrictions, they can only build or work on 600 dunums. This lack of control over their own land greatly affects their everyday lives. Nihad Arar, the village council head, explains that every aspect of life, from picking olives to construction, requires approval from the Israeli occupation.

Bilal’s tragic death has left his family devastated. His wife and children, the youngest only nine years old, are in shock and unable to stop crying. Bilal’s wife, Ikhlas, reveals that he had confronted the settlers in an effort to protect his family when they approached too closely. None of them expected the situation to escalate to the point where Bilal would lose his life.

The incident has sparked outrage and mourning among the local community, with hundreds attending Bilal’s funeral procession to pay their respects. This tragedy highlights the ongoing struggles faced by Palestinians living under occupation, as they fight for control over their own land and strive for a better, safer life.

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