19th century illustration | cc: wikipedia
The official olive harvest season begins on Friday and throughout the West Bank.
Jerusalem: The official olive harvest season begins on Friday, October 5th. The joint Palestinian-Israeli olive harvest will be led by “the Olive Harvest Coalition” – a wide coalition of organizations which have united to carry out a joint Palestinian-Israeli harvest, dividing between themselves the areas of olive harvesting and the days of the activity. The olive harvest will take place in tens of Palestinian villages throughout the West Bank. The event on Facebook.
This season will be a test case of the Israeli security forces’ commitment to protect the safety and rights of the Palestinian farmers. The joint Palestinian-Israeli olive harvest will take place in tens of Palestinian villages near settlements and whose lands are on the other side of the separation fence, amid concerns about conflicts with settler extremists.
This season a good crop is expected and the season will continue for about two months. The harvest will be carried out in Areas B and C. Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann from Rabbis for Human Rights: ”I call on the security forces and the police on the West Bank to make every effort to protect the Palestinian olive groves even before the harvest as, traditionally, every year before the harvest, there is a wave of thefts and vandalism against the olive groves. It is hard to imagine how important the olive tree is, both economically and emotionally, in Palestinian village society. Protecting the rights of the stranger, and also protecting fruit trees, is a religious command in the Torah of Israel.”
In the past, the olive harvest has been met with violence on the part of Jewish extremists on the West Bank, and by indifference and bureaucratic harassment on the part of the army, which has several times limited the rights of the Palestinians to harvest their olives, sometimes by means of a “closed army area order” as a way of avoiding having to deal with the violence of settler extremists or through a miserly policy of granting entry permits to the border area and of raising obstacles at the border posts to the West Bank.
The olive-harvesting is characterized by the wide participation of Israeli activists from all sections of society, in particular the religious, and international volunteers, showing a different face from that of the occupation.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman summarizing a decade of the joint olive harvest:
A decade of the participation and assistance of Jewish activists in the Palestinian olive harvest – a summary of the period by Rabbi Arik Ascherman: ” A decade has passed since Israeli human rights’ activists began participating in the Palestinian olive harvest, and the trend has been mixed and problematic. Ten years’ ago, there were shootings and attacks against the Palestinians and the Israeli volunteers by settler extremists. Then there were large areas that the army closed to Palestinians, there were thefts, the practice of arbitrarily declaring a closed military area whenever settlers attacked (to “protect” the Palestinians) and difficulty in obtaining permits for the area between the separation fence and the Green Line. Today, on the one hand, there is a ruling of the Supreme Court that Palestinians must be allowed access to their lands and the army has a duty to protect them. On the other hand, there are areas where there are now no trees as a result of the accumulating damage which the army has not stopped, in spite of its obligation according to the Supreme Court. There are areas where the army protects the Palestinian farmers, but prevents us activists from entering. From year to year, there are more attempts by the army to persuade the Palestinian villages not to work with us, and to allow entry into private agricultural land only according to the army’s schedule, in spite of the fact that, according to the Supreme Court, there is no need to coordinate entry beforehand. Last year, there was a sharp increase in the number of places where the army refused to allow completion of the olive harvest.”
Watch: Illegal “closed military zone” order, used to expel Palestinian from their privet land. Rechiya, south Hebron hills 6.10.2012
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