Under the surveillance of dozens of Israeli soldiers the opening event of the Olive Harvest program was in Wadi Fukin village. Activists from Palestine, Norway, Sweden, Spain, USA and Germany gathered in a field threatened by the nearby Israeli settlement Beitar Illit, to pick olives. A good amount of cameras covered the harvesting, among them Palestinian press. Wadi Fukin village is surrounded by three Israeli settlements Tsur Hadassah, Beitar Illit and Hadar Beitar.
On Wednesday the 8 of October settlers torched 30 olive trees in the village of Nahalin, west off Bethlehem. Residents from the village say that it was a group of settlers from Beitar Illit. The residents say that this is not the first time, but one of several attempts to seize land for the settlements.
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The Olive Harvest program opening campaign in Wadi Fukin Friday, 10.10.14
Monday 6.10: Israeli settlers cut down around 100 olive trees nearby the village of Yassouf, which is located about 7 km north of the town of Salfit. Farmers from this area have reported that settlers from Tuffah were behind. It has also been reported about vandalism in Burin and in Awarta.
Since the Israeli occupation of the West bank in 1967, more than 800 000 olive trees have been destroyed by Israeli forces or settlers, according to human rights organizations.
The Land Defense Coalition, a coordinating body of grassroots movements and organizations, announces the program of collective efforts to safeguard the annual olive harvest and are calling on volunteers to stand in solidarity with Palestinian communities and join in the harvest on October 10 until October 25, 2014.
This year’s harvest was weaker than years’ prior, and alongside the low level of rainfall and hot weather, Occupation policy was a key factor. The olive trees bear less fruit after farmers have been expelled from the land and are prohibited from plowing and maintaining it. Settlers, who light fires, bulldoze groves, and allow pollution from hilltop settlements to run down onto agricultural areas, also contribute to the debilitation.
The olive harvest in Palestine is an age‐old tradition that reaffirms Palestinian ties to the land and serves as a vital element of Palestinian economic, social and cultural life. Each year, however, the harvest becomes a bigger challenge for the farmers who face a tightening siege from the Wall, expanding settlements, settler attacks, and permit restrictions, all of which serve to force Palestinians from their land.
As has been the tradition for generations, the month of October signalled the beginning of the olive harvest for hundreds of Palestinian villages across the West Bank. Each year, the harvest becomes a bigger challenge for the farmers who face a tightening siege from the Wall, expanding settlements, settler attacks and permit restrictions, all of which serve to force Palestinians from their land.