Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Palestinian Olive Harvest Begins

Photoblog by Dylan Collins

Sprinkling the rolling, and at this time of year rather arid, hills of the West Bank are olive trees, everywhere. They and their succulent little fruit are the lifeblood of the Palestinian people.

At the beginning of each October – in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron, and in every tiny village in between – Palestinians of all walks of life set aside their daily occupations and tend to their trees. Off go the suits and out come the tarps and the ladders, the pick-up trucks and the donkeys.

The olive tree is a symbol of Palestinian culture and the people’s historic and resilient connection to the land. “They are our children,” says Abu Alaa of Makhmash, a small village on the outskirts of Ramallah.

Unfortunately, this joyous and culturally significant occasion is, time and time again, marred with violence stemming from members of Israel’s illegal settler population.

This year is no different. The annual harvest season kicked off earlier this month and hundreds of trees have already been burned, uprooted, or cut down by extremist Israeli settlers.

According to a report by the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli settlers vandalized more than 870 olive trees in the first week of this year's harvest alone. Moreover, since the beginning of 2012, approximately 7,180 Palestinian-owned olive trees have been damaged due to settler vandalism.

Despite the violence, and despite continuous land annexations, Palestinian families, farmers, and businessmen alike carry on harvesting their trees.


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