The olive harvest has for the first time coincided with the National and International Week against the Apartheid Wall. The coincidence has given this yearâs week a particular focus: The olive harvest activities serve to highlight the Palestinian farmersâ steadfast refusal to relinquish their land, as well as to remind the world about the fate of the farmers who have lost their land to Zionist expansionism.
***image2***The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign organized activities all over the West Bank supporting both the struggle of the farmers for their olive harvest and their claims to lands isolated by the Wall and encroached upon by settlements. Every year an intricate system of military rules, the Apartheid Wall and settlement infrastructure, as well as attacks by Occupation forces and settlers continues to bar Palestinians from an ever-increasing amount of land.
This year, the olive harvest efforts were coordinated by the Campaign together with a series of civil society organizations, universities and national institutions. The activities, geared toward helping the farmers reach their lands, began in all districts on the 25th of October 2006.
Hundreds of Palestinian volunteers and international supporters went together with the farmers to the olive groves located behind the wall and near the Zionist settlements. This was carried out in defiance of Occupation obstacles and restrictions, set up to cripple the olive harvest campaign.
Many volunteers were prohibited from crossing the gates in the Apartheid Wall, while other farmers and volunteers were subjected to endless delays at the gates. This harassment was an effort to block the Palestinian people from reaching the land or to make them arrive so late in the day that they would be unable to engage in serious harvesting. The farmers were also threatened by settlers that blocked their way and sometimes attacked and beat them.
The olive harvest campaign will culminate in the â1st National Olive Festivalâ organized in Salfit on the 10th of December.
In the Jerusalem district the Campaign, in coordination with 100 farmers, Palestinian volunteers and international supporters, organized two days of resistance in Beit Hanan (West Jerusalem). They went to the west part of the village in an area called Breij where the Wall isolates large parts of the village land. When they tried to pass through the prison gates of the wall the Occupation forces blocked their passage. When the farmers persisted in their effort to reach their land, the military started to pump tear gas into the crowd, following them back to the village. But in spite of Occupation repression and violence, the volunteers and farmers continued their work on the land near the Wall.
In Salfit district the Campaign, together with farmers, Palestinian and international volunteers, organized activities for 21 days. Collective olive harvesting was supported in Iskaka, Deir Istiya, Eizawiye, Marda, Kufr Diek, Hares and Kifl Hares. In Masâha, on the 9th of November, a delegation composed of Campaign representatives, local representatives and international supporters went to Hani Amerâs house to highlight his case as a symbol of Zionist ruthlessness and Palestinian resistance. Hani Amer`s home is completely isolated between Elkana settlement and the Wall and only accessible through an iron gate.
The Palestinian and international volunteers supported the farmers in the district from the 25th of October to the 14th of November. Their persistence allowed them to enter many places behind the Wall and near the settlements. The farmers were able to reach their lands again after almost one year and in some places for the first time in 5 years.
In Hebron local farmers, Palestinian volunteers and international supporters started the activities on the 29th of October. They reached the villages of al-Karmeh, Shiyukh, Im Shaqhan, Qawawis, as-Sikkeh, Deir Samet, Surif, Id-Deir, Tarqumiya, Bani Naâim and Beit Kahel. Some of the lands are located behind the Wall while others have been wrecked by continuous settlement expansion and settlers` attacks. The Zionist expansionism has been especially active in this area. Expansionism, as well as attacks by settlers, has barred the farmers from their land for five years.
***image3***In the Ramallah district, some 70 Palestinian volunteers were engaged in volunteer work in Saffa, West Ramallah. The local farmers and volunteers were focusing on finding ways to pass the gates in the Apartheid Wall that isolate 4000 dunums of farm land. As the Occupation forces have repeatedly stopped them from passing, efforts have been diverted to the lands along the Wall towards the village.
From Saffa, the action was moved to Kobar village in south Ramallah. Volunteers helped Palestinian farmers whose land is surrounded by Nahaâel settlement.
In Qalqiliya district, the efforts focused on the village of Azzun Atme, where new Wall construction is under way.
To mark the last day of the Week against the Apartheid Wall and to highlight that the struggle will continue until the Wall falls and our land is liberated, four hundred Palestinians from Azzun Atme, south of Qalqiliya, marched on the 16th of November in protest against the new parts of the Wall.
At the beginning of November, the bulldozers of the Occupation began work on the new parts of the Wall that will run West of the village and completely encircle it. The demonstration has been followed by a chain of daily protest activities which where called for by the local committee against the Apartheid Wall. Protestors delay work with their attempts to fill in the holes dug by the Occupation forces that will serve as a foundation for the Wall.
Other dozens of volunteers went to Quffin, Kufr Qaddum, Deir Sharaf, Huwwara and al-Khadar villages to assist the farmers with the olive harvest and to support our rightful claim to every single inch of our land.
1st National Olive Festival
The Olive Harvest Campaign will end with a huge popular festival in Salfit on the 10th of December. Under the title â1st National Olive Festivalâ farmers, along with local and national representatives from all over the West Bank, will gather to celebrate resistance as well as a successful olive harvest in the face of the siege and repression. It is organized by the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in cooperation with the Salfit Governorate and is expected to attract some 500 people.
The festival will feature speeches and cultural performances, such as theatre, music and the traditional Zajjel â where two performers exchange songs – to highlight the needs and struggles of the Palestinian people.
An exhibition of olives, olive oil and other products will promote Palestinian products and push forward the growing campaign for boycott at a national level.
Finally, the location of the festival is chosen to be the once lively entrance of Salfit in the north. Today, the road is closed to make space for the Wall around Ariel settlement. A demonstration will march from the premises to the Wall. We will never forget a dunum of our land.