Palestinian farmers call for solidarity

August 23, 2015

Israeli bulldozers uproot olive trees on Palestinian lands to make way for a separation wall in Beit Jala.

Palestinian farmers have called for international solidarity against ongoing Israeli destruction of their olive groves and livelihoods.

The farmers have announced a campaign under the banner “Like Olive Trees’ Roots We Resist” to raise awareness about the plight of those living in occupied territories, especially farmers.

“It is of no news that the Israeli Occupation continues its violations against Palestinian farmers and their resources,” said Palestine’s Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in a statement on August 18.

The campaign comes as Israeli authorities uprooted another huge swath of more than 1500 Palestinian-owned olive trees near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on August 18 to make way for a controversial border wall to be built.

The UAWC said Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers uprooted more than 9910 trees in the first half of this year alone, surpassing last year's total of trees destroyed by Israeli forces. Most of the lost trees have been olive trees.

But Palestinian growers continue to replant their trees, an act of resistance behind the farmers’ new campaign.

Some 80,000 Palestinian families rely on olive oil production for their livelihoods. The industry makes up about 14% of agricultural revenue in occupied Palestinian territories, where almost half of all agricultural land is used to cultivate eight million olive trees, the UAWC said.

“Despite the continuous Israeli uprooting and damaging of Palestinian trees especially olive trees, Palestinians replant more and more trees and become more attached to their land,” said UAWC.

As the olive harvesting season approaches, Palestinian farmers are calling for international solidarity with their resistance against the threat Israeli forces pose to their lives and livelihood.

As part of the campaign, Palestinian farmers call for international human rights accompaniment to help increase protections for Palestinians in the face of threats of violence by Israeli security forces and Israeli settlers in occupied territories.

Farmers’ resilience to continue tending their olive groves despite destruction is an act of resistance that reaffirms Palestinians’ right to access their land, said UAWC.

The campaign will be most active throughout the month of October, when farmers are harvesting their olive crops.

Aside from the widespread destruction of olive trees, Palestinians have also suffered the demolition of at least 280 structures in the West Bank and at least 95 incidents of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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