PRESS RELEASE | Oct 6th 2014
As the olive harvest begins, a number of serious incidents have been reported in the Occupied Territories.
Every fall, Rabbis for Human Rights brings hundreds of volunteers to work side-by-side with Palestinian farmers during our Olive Harvest campaign. Our presence provides protection against possible settler intimidation, enables farmers to pick within the limited number of days that they can safely do so, and has also become an act of solidarity between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
Unfortunately, the start of the harvest season was marred by a number of incidents of vandalism and destruction, some on land that farmers do not visit regularly during the year, so it is difficult to know when the destruction occurred. A few dozen mature olive trees were discovered cut down in Yasuf; most where cut at the bark of the tree, causing severe harm to the tree that we have not seen for some time.
Additionally, 15 trees were cut in Burin, along with a similar number in Aqrabah, along the Detroit Road where it was reported that settlers attempted to disrupt the harvest by expelling Palestinian farmers and giving orders to soldiers.
The legal proceeding from these acts are being handled by Yesh Din, who add that:
“It is important to note that even though the Israeli army has publicly committed to having its forces ready and reinforced in the run-up to the harvest, with special focus on well known friction zones, the severe damage that was reported today occurred exactly in the most predictable spots.”
Rabbis for Human Rights also adds that there is a Biblical prohibition against the destruction of fruit trees. We continue to work against this wasteful, hateful violence.
For information on how to volunteer with RHR and assist Palestinian farmers safely harvest olives in the Occupied Territories click here.