Olive trees not only evoke images of the West Bank landscape, but they are also vital in providing a livelihood for Palestinian farmers. The olive branch is also a symbol of peace and coexistence but that does not prevent extremist Jewish settlers frequently damaging olive trees in attempts to threaten the economic survival of their neighbors.
A 20-person delegation from NIF grantee Tag Meir recently paid a solidarity visit to the West Bank village of Jabaa after Jewish extremists from the nearby settlement of Bat Ein vandalized some 300 olive trees. In a symbolic act, the villagers and Tag Meir visitors jointly planted some new olive trees.
According to a report by NIF grantee Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights in 2019 there was a 50% increase on olive tree vandalism and attacks on Palestinians during the harvest season.
Meanwhile with the olive harvest underway over the next few months, NIF grantee Rabbis for Human Rights is again operating its volunteer harvesting project by which Jewish volunteers travel to the West Bank to help Palestinian farmers in harvesting.
“This is a classic human rights project,” wrote Rabbis for Human Rights Executive Director Avi Dabush in a Haaretz blog. “In 2019, more than 600 volunteers arrived at the harvest days that we organized. This is an impressive increase and demonstrates the growing Israeli desire to get to know the Palestinians and help them. We have been blessed with people who have returned again and again and donated.”
This year there are more problems than usual to overcome in transporting volunteers to help in the harvest. In addition to the usual IDF restrictions imposed on travel in the West Bank, there are now also restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NIF grantees will continue to show up on the ground to take a stand against threats to the livelihood of Palestinian farmers.