Every year Ecumenical Accompaniers provide protective presence to Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest in occupied Palestine. Our protective presence helps farmers access lands near settlements or in areas cut off by the wall and also helps deter acts of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their olive trees. THIS BLOG SHARES SCENES FROM the 2015 OLIVE HARVEST and A REFLECTION from THE BETHLEHEM TEAM.
The olive harvest is an amazing opportunity to spend time with families as they all gather together for the celebration of the harvest. Meeting inspiring local farmers, working hard in the fields, singing and laughing together and sharing amazing meals in the shade of the olive trees, these are just some of the moments that have made the olive harvest a life long memory for us EAs.
Attacks from settlers, however, cast a shadow on these memories. In general the families tell us that they feel safer while EAs’ are around and that they appreciate our support, this is because they often experience verbal and physical attacks from settlers as well as harassment from soldiers when harvesting their olives. Watch video of EA providing protective presence to farmers in the South Hebron Hills here.
We documented numerous incidents of settler violence towards Palestinians and of damage to property during the harvest season. While we assisted with the harvest a Palestinian woman was injured by a stone thrown by a settler, and the farmers were often approached and intimidated by settlers. We were regularly called to respond to incidents of settler violence or to visit victims after they or their crops had been attacked by settlers. We visited families in Nahaleen who’s trees have been uprooted or burned by settlers while others families reported that settlers used pollutants to destroy their olive groves.
We felt our presence made a difference to the farmers and it meant a lot to us too, to take part in this special event – new relations were established and as one farmer family said: “Thank you for coming – you have family here now – you are our family”.
OCHAs Humanitarian Bulletin: The 2015 olive harvest season starts amidst escalating tension in the oPt, Read more on p11 here.
Video: EAPPI protective presence, Olive Harvest 2015, by EAPPI UK and Ireland
Another Voice: What Olives Mean to Palestinians by a group of Israeli and Palestinian women