The Olive Harvest

I am re-posting this by another Author who has not left their name because it is so topical

David Gibson,



Yesterday, I posted a thread regarding the migration of Jewish settlers onto Palestinian owned land. Today, I want to share the story of the Palestinian olive harvest.

The autumn months in Palestine mark the season for harvesting olives. The olive harvest is traditionally a joyful and celebrated time of the year in Palestinian communities. Since the Israeli occupation began in 1967, however, Israeli imposed restrictions on olive harvesting have severely affected Palestinian communities dependent upon olives for their livelihood. The last four years of the second Intifada have witnessed an especially harsh time for Palestinians. Since October 2000, Israeli occupying forces and militant extremist Israeli settlers have engaged in a sustained attack upon Palestinian olive farming and harvesting. As a result, Palestinians have almost lost the ability to maintain the culture and traditions that have been an integral part of their national life for centuries.

Olives are the staple crops for a Palestinian society traditionally dependent on agriculture. Olive groves constitute more than 40.3% of the cultivated area in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 79% of cultivated fruit trees. The number of olive trees planted in Palestine today exceeds 12 million, spread over 13.26% (750,000 dunums)[1] of the West Bank and 11% (11,200 dunums)[2] of the Gaza Strip.

In the last four years, however, the Israeli occupying forces have uprooted almost 400,000 olive trees with a value of over 60 million dollars (U.S.).[3] This systematic attack on the olive groves of Palestine constitutes an immense economic and environmental disaster that promises to impact Palestinian society severely for generations to come.

The Israelis take away the lively hood of the Palestinians and then wonder why the Palestinians are angry. The US Government did a similar thing to the native Americans. Here, in southeastern Pennsylvania, the adult, native Leni Lanapes were taken from their land and re-located to Oklahoma and their children were sent to “Indian school” in Carlisle, PA. As Americans moved westward, more native Americans were removed from their lands. Now the native Americans live on the least farmable land within the United States. We won and they lost. The same thing is happening in the middle east. Since the Israelis are better armed, they are winning and the Palestinians are losing.

Actions by Israeli occupying forces during the past four years have made it much more difficult for Palestinian families to harvest their olives.[11] Restrictions on Palestinian olive harvesting and assaults on Palestinian farmers are systematic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and are a matter of policy for the Israeli occupation authorities. Israeli occupation policies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Curfews: Palestinians who leave their homes and venture into their olive groves can be immediately arrested or shot on site for violating Israeli imposed curfews.
  • Permits: Israeli occupation authorities require Palestinian farmers to apply for permits to access their lands in certain areas. The application procedure for these permits is long, tedious and often impossible for Palestinian families. The permit system is used by Israeli occupying forces as an institutionalized method of discrimination and dispossession.
  • Confiscation of ID Cards: Palestinian farmers violating Israeli imposed curfews or accessing their lands without certain Israeli issued permits can have their ID cards confiscated by Israeli occupying forces. Palestinians are required to carry these Israeli issued identification cards (hawiyya) at all times. If a Palestinian is stopped by Israeli soldiers and cannot present this identification card he or she can be immediately detained and held indefinitely without charge or trial.
  • Confiscation of Equipment: Palestinian farmers harvesting olives in certain areas without an Israeli issued permit may also have their equipment confiscated by Israeli occupying forces.
  • Fines: These same farmers may also be fined excessively for ‘trespassing’ on their own lands if they attempt to cultivate their olives without the required Israeli issued permits.
  • Destruction of Crops: Israeli occupying forces have uprooted almost 400,000 Palestinian olive trees in the last four years.[12] The Israeli army has also been known to burn Palestinian crops and even drop chemical agents, such as napalm agents, on Palestinian agricultural land in certain areas.
Attacks and restrictions by the Israeli military have severely affected the ability of many Palestinian farmers to provide for their families and have jeopardized the survival of numerous Palestinian communities. However, assaults by extreme and militant Jewish Israeli settlers have been the most dangerous and problematic for Palestinian farmers and peasants.[13] Settler attacks on Palestinian olive harvesters have become an annual ritual during the olive season. Israeli settlers escalate their attacks on Palestinians during this period, militarily seizing olive groves and assaulting and even killing Palestinian farmers who attempt to pick their olives. These settlers are usually protected by the Israeli occupying forces. Israeli soldiers often allow the settlers to occupy and take control of Palestinian land, including olive groves. Settlers also often act with impunity when they attack Palestinian farmers and many murders have gone unpunished.[14]
These systematic Israeli attacks not only target the Palestinian people but also the very roots of Palestinian existence on the lands they have cultivated for generations. For example, settlers commonly steal olives from Palestinian groves before the owners are able to harvest the trees. The theft of olives is rarely, if ever, stopped by Israeli occupying forces that often intervene on behalf of the settlers.
In addition to these attacks, there have also been widespread and systematic examples of the destruction of Palestinian olive groves. In the past four years of the second Intifada, Israeli settlers and the Israeli Army have uprooted 382,695 olive trees throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[15] The market value for these uprooted trees is more than 60 million in US dollars (not including revenues lost by the sale of olive products the trees would have provided).[16] In all, since 1967 Israeli occupying forces have uprooted more than 1 million Palestinian olive trees.

Olive groves have been cleared from strategic locations in order to facilitate Israeli colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territories by opening new lands for Jewish Israeli settlements, bypass roads and, most recently, the Segregation Wall. In addition, Israeli policies of collective punishment often target entire Palestinian communities and include uprooting trees as a means of punishment and intimidation. The following graphs and table illustrate the number of olive trees uprooted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from September 2000 to June 2004.[17]

Before you pass judgment, READ the complete story here… be sure to read to the bottom of the page where the dates of the attacks are listed.

This story has a familiar ring. Sounds like just another kind of ethnic cleansing.