Olive Harvest

Palestinian farmers pick olives during a harvest season in the West Bank city of Salfit near the Ariel settlement on October 10, 2018. (Photo: Shadi Jarar’ah/APAImages)

Rada Daniell reports from an IWPS trip to Palestine during the last olive harvest, “Every year there is another line of catalog-style settlement buildings spilled over the hills, another patch of land cleared out.” International volunteers help Palestinians under occupation harvest olives, then go home to break a de facto information embargo on the reality in Palestine.

Israeli settlers attack farmers in the Nablus area village of Burin, October 2019 (Photo: Facebook)

Every year, without fail, Palestinians mark the beginning of autumn with the olive harvest. A sacred cultural event, families from across the country leave their towns and cities and head for their olive groves, passed down to them from the generations before.

And every year, without fail, much of the harvest is characterized by attacks on Palestinian farmers and families by Israeli settlers and armed soldiers. This year is no different.

Israeli authorities only give the residents of Turmusayya, a lush Palestinian village nestled in a valley between Ramallah and Nablus, two days in the fall to harvest their olives. When time finally came this year they were devastated to find dozens of trees chopped down, uprooted, and rotting. “Some of these trees are 40, 50, 60, and 70 years old,” 78-year-old Palestinian Mahmoud al-Araj told Mondoweiss, “I have been cultivating these trees, this land, since I was a boy.” Pointing to the illegal Israeli outpost of Adei Ad, which was built on lands of Turmusayya, al-Araj’s voice intensified. “We give everything we have to our land and to these trees, and then the settlers come and destroy it all.”