Overview October 2021 | Olive Farming in Occupied Palestine, a Shaky Job
In the month of October 2021 Staat van Beleg documented 2,171 human rights violations and 201 reports. This month we write about the Israeli attacks against Palestinian olive farmers, the uprooting of their trees and restrictions during the olive harvesting.
In the beginning of October the Palestinian olive picking season started. In a world outside occupied Palestine an occurrence that will not be witnessed by anyone that is not involved or invited. But not for Palestine. From the first day of the harvest local news agencies reported on several violent attacks by Israeli settlers on farmers, the uprooting of their trees and the stealing of olives.
Olive trees, a symbol of Palestinian resistance and resilience
All those attacks can not take away the joy of harvesting olives. The harvesting of olives is an annual recurring activity that is being carried out in a festive atmosphere. Families are cooperating in picking their olives and they will gather under their trees to enjoy a picnic afterwards. In the eyes of a Palestinian olive farmer every tree that survived, every harvested olive and every bottle of olive oil sold over the counter is a victory in the face of the occupation. Olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any another trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land. Because the trees are draught-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.
More than 9,000 olive trees destroyed in one year time!
Under the extremely hard conditions Palestinian farmers are struggling to get hold of their lands and trees, getting access to work on their lands and being able to survive unscathed while protecting their olives seems a futile exercise. Certainly given the fact that Palestinians plant around 10,000 new olive trees in the West Bank each year and simultaneously more than 9,000 olive trees were destroyed by Israel in one year time!
Luckily there are international organisations that make up for the loss of these trees. Through one of these organisations, “Plant een Olijfboom”, almost 37,000 trees were sponsored this year. Without this support Palestinian olive farmers would loss their livelihood and because of this dependency they find themselves in a vulnerable position. This is one of the many examples in which Palestinians are being deprived of their right of self-determination.
Farming and harvesting olives, a privilege given by the goodwill of the occupier
What we see is a situation wherein something as normal as farming and harvesting olives has become a privilege given by the goodwill of the occupier. Strange enough the international community accepts the status quo. Hardly any newspaper outside Palestine is covering updates on the situation. Neither do politicians seem to care that people under occupation, lacking legal and physical protection, are being stolen from their income. While in 2008 a Dutch news paper even promoted Palestinian olives and olive oil these days the mainstream media is extremely reluctant in reporting on the violations.
While the attacks are labelled as settler violence in most of the cases the Israeli army is protecting the settlers in their crimes or is even participating. Instead of arresting the settlers and punishing them for their crimes Palestinian farmers and monitoring activists are being arrested and attacked according to different reports.
Israeli soldiers preventing access for locals and activists from olive groves during harvest season in Salfit, The West Bank on Oct. 11, 2021 Picture Matan Golan SIPA USA
It is noteworthy that there are three documented cases in October where Israeli forces operated independently, without involvement of settlers. On 16 October Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at Palestinian harvesters, who included landowners and volunteers from Al-Quds Open University, that were picking olives in Zabouba village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. On 18 October Israeli forces denied Palestinian olive harvesters access to their groves, south of Qalqiliya city. On 20 October the Israeli occupation army bulldozed about 10 dunums of land planted with olive saplings near Wadi Rahhal village in the south of Bethlehem belonging to a local resident called Ibrahim Abiyat.
The Israeli occupation authority determines when and for how long farmers can work on their lands, in many cases only a few days per year. Less and less farmers from the restricted areas behind the Barrier, the ‘Seam Zone’, get permission to enter their lands.
The different violations against olive trees and farmers
In our overview of November 2020 we already wrote extensively about the violations against olive trees and farmers. Although not much has changed we will continue to raise the issue.
All the violations since the start of the olive season are stored in our archive under settler violence. Below you will find a list of different documented violations against olive trees and farmers that took place during the month of October.
There are cases of chopping off/uprooting olive trees, stealing crops and harvesting equipment, attacking/threatening farmers, detaining activists and farmers, preventing farmers of harvesting or entering their lands, arson attacks and the bulldozing of olive groves.
Palestinian-owned car from olive harvester set on fire by Israeli settlers near the town of Turmus Ayya, Oct. 23, 2021 (Photo credit: B'Tselem)
Settlers chop off scores of olive trees in Nablus
With the start of the olive season, Palestinians say Israeli settlers steal their crops in lands near settlements
Settlers steal olive-harvesting equipment south of Nablus
Jewish settlers torch cultivated land in Burin town
Settlers steal olive crops in Nablus-area town
Palestinian farmers come under attack from Israeli settlers during their olive harvest
Settlers attack shepherds, uproot olive trees in Hebron
Israeli settlers prevent Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olive crops in northern West Bank village
Another Israeli settler attack documented against Palestinian farmers in northern West Bank
Israeli settlers attack farmers harvesting olives near Nablus
Israeli settlers steal olive harvest, uproot hundreds of saplings from Nablus farmers
Israeli settlers uproot dozens of olive trees in Masafer Yatta area
Settlers steal olive-harvesting equipment south of Nablus
Palestinian farmers pick olive groves amid settler threats
Israeli settlers uproot more than 80 olive trees in a village near Ramallah
Four Palestinians wounded in settlers’ attack on olive pickers in Salfit
Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian olive harvesters in the north of the West Bank
Palestinians attempting to reach their lands in south of West Bank attacked by Israeli settlers
Israeli settlers chop down olive trees, steal crops and harvesting equipment in northern West Bank villages
Israeli forces deny olive harvesters access to their groves south of Qalqiliya
Israeli settlers set ablaze Palestinian agricultural land in a northern West Bank town
Settlers wreck havoc on olive harvesters northwest of Nablus
Settlers steal olive harvesting tools and crops from Palestinian lands in the West Bank
Israeli army bulldozes olive grove in W. Bank village
Israeli settlers’ blitz on the olive season continues with the uprooting of more than 300 trees in a village near Ramallah
Jewish settlers attack Palestinian farmers, cars in W. Bank town
Israeli settlers, backed by the army, attack Palestinian olive pickers in Nablus area
Settlers steal olive harvesting equipment south of Nablus
Israeli settlers uproot olive saplings in village near Bethlehem
Israeli settlers assault ICRC staff in Nablus-district village, injure some