The Palestinian people are rooted as the Olive Trees in Palestine for thousands of years

In an alarming escalation of settlers’ violence, the olive harvest in Palestine is threatened to access and to protection concerns. The Israeli settlers supported by the Israeli military target the olive harvest in the most brute way, a systematic practice of targeting the land, the people and the environment.

Israeli offensive forces and settlers are plundering the olive harvest with every possible mean. This week, in Mughayyir 90 trees were chopped, and in Fara’ata 60 trees were uprooted and 30 others were stolen. Furthermore, in Tell 30 trees were damaged and 20 others stolen, and in Turmusaya 60 trees were uprooted. This act of vandalism was accompanied by physical assaults on farmers during the harvest in a deliberate and systematic way. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that “settler violence and vandalism take place with full backing by the Israeli authorities. Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault; at other times, they stand idle. The police makes no substantial effort to investigate the incidents, nor takes measures to prevent them or stop them in real time.”

Farmers are encountering steep challenges during the harvest process especially in accessing their farms. Farmers located in Area C (60% of the West Bank, under full Israeli control) or the seam zone (between the Green Line and the Separation Wall), need permits from the Israeli authorities for accessibility. These permits are difficult to obtain and needs multiple security checks and if granted it is only for a limited period of time. This impedes the time of the harvest and gives the opportunity for settlers to act with impunity when farmers are not there, and curbs the possibility for the Palestinians to complain or have any evidence of the assaults.

The annual olive harvest symbolizes significant economic, cultural and social event in Palestinian life. For example, 100,000 Palestinian families rely on the nearly 11 million olive trees for their livelihood. The olive industry forms 20 percent of the Palestinian economy and the olive harvest is considered to be a cultural and social event. Moreover, it is considered a season where all Palestinians gather to pick the olives; a cultural event that bolsters our national Identity. By and large, the olive trees are symbolic of Palestinian resilience, steadfastness and resistance, and olive trees have been there for thousands of years nurtured by the Palestinian farmers.

It is evident that Israel’s systematic assault during the olive harvest is to destroy the Palestinian economy, its culture, and identity; which ultimately dashes hopes for peace and security, let alone the two-state solution.