Olive oil is vital to the food security of Palestinians and one of the drivers of the country’s economy.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says Jewish settlers have destroyed more than 9,000 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since August 2020. Amid the ongoing olive harvest season, the ICRC calls on Israel to ensure safe, timely and adequate access for Palestinians to their olive groves.
“Over the years, the ICRC has observed a peak in violence by Israeli settlers living in certain settlements and outposts in the West Bank against Palestinian farmers, and their property in the period leading up to the olive harvest season, as well as during the harvest season in October and November,” said ICRC Head of Mission Els Debuf reported by Middle East Monitor, Thursday (14/10).
Debuf said Palestinian farmers were also subjected to harassment and violence aimed at preventing a successful harvest.
In addition, the Jewish settlers also carried out the destruction of agricultural equipment, as well as the uprooting and burning of olive trees.
“This is an important concern that we will share with the relevant authorities,” Debuf said.
On Wednesday (13/10), Israeli extremist settlers uprooted 900 olive and apricot trees.
They also stole olives in the village of Sebastia in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
In addition, the settlers also uprooted 70 trees in Masafer Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron.
Settlers’ violence against Palestinians and their property is a common occurrence in the West Bank, but the occupying authorities rarely take action and are even inclined to support such violence.
The ICRC helps Palestinian farmers access their olive groves located near the West Bank border or close to settlements and outposts.
This ICRC support aims to help Palestinians reach their lands safely and in a timely manner.
Every October, Palestinian farmers harvest olives. This harvest is an important source of livelihood for thousands of Palestinian families.
More than 12 million olive trees are planted on nearly half of the West Bank’s agricultural land. Olive oil is essential to Palestinian food security and can drive the economy through exports.
In addition, the olive tree is a symbol of Palestine’s attachment to their land. Olive trees are known to be drought tolerant and can grow under poor soil conditions.
Although it can grow in adverse conditions, olive trees produce fruit all year round. The olive tree represents the resistance and resilience of Palestine in the face of Israeli occupation.