Rabbis Day at the olive harvest: 31.10.12 in Sinjil. In the photo: Rabbi Ehud Bandel
Over the 2012 season, RHR was involved in coordinating the olive harvest in 39 Palestinian villages. In addition to bringing groups of volunteers into the field to help ensure the safety of farmers, RHR intervened with the Israeli army’s Civil Administration to guarantee access to agricultural lands, made site visits to several villages, and otherwise took actions to ensure the greatest possible realization of Palestinian farmers’ rights to livelihood and security. Through this work, RHR gathered information, either directly through our own involvement or via contacts with farmers and other villagers, on incidents in the field. The following is a brief report of our activities, along with an overview of the principal statistics we gathered through the course of the 2012 olive harvest season.
By: Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann
RHR Direct Harvest Support:
RHR was directly involved in assisting with the olive harvest in 11 villages throughout the West Bank. Overall, this work represents 37 days of labor. On any given day we had up to 25 volunteers. Taking into account the number of volunteers on each day, for the 2012 season RHR succeeded in supporting Palestinian farmers with approximately 428 days of volunteer labor.
In only one village was RHR asked not to assist with the harvest for political reasons.
Other RHR Harvest-Related Actions:
In at least 7 villages, on multiple occasions and over extended periods, RHR directly intervened with the Israeli army to ensure the access of Palestinian farmers to their lands. At times this took the form of responding to incidences of threatening behavior and making sure farmers’ physical safety would be guaranteed, at others it took the form of coordinating with the Civil Administration to ensure that access would not be denied.
On 4 separate occasions, RHR intervened to secure the release of Palestinian farmers from police custody. In addition, we reported criminal acts in 3 villages that had been discovered through our work in the field. Beyond this, we documented the vandalism and destruction of trees, liaised with the press, made site visits to nearly all of the 39 villages, supported farmers to take independent steps to secure their rights and brought groups to make solidarity visits to 2 villages that had been victims of tree destruction.
- Damage to olive trees
RHR documented damage to, or destruction altogether, of olive trees in 11 villages. This included cutting, uprooting and burning. In all, this represented the damage or destruction of more than 330 mature trees and 100 saplings.
- Stolen olives
RHR witnessed or was told of olive theft in 5 villages. In one instance, this involved 130 trees.
- Physical intimidation, threats or violence
RHR documented attempts by non-military Israelis to limit the access of Palestinian farmers to their land in 10 villages. These actions included, depending on the circumstances, the throwing of rocks, shots being fired in the air, false accusations to the police, being told to leave by settlement security personnel and other activities.
- Civil Administration responsiveness
Over the course of this season, RHR learned of 2 incidences where the Israeli Army intervened to guarantee the security of Palestinian farmers, and 1 where they did not. We also learned of one instance in which a farmer was not given enough days to access his land and complete the harvest, along with 1 incident in which a farmer was forced to wait for several hours to gain access to his land.