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Palestinian man successfully harvests olives for the first time in 14 years

20th October 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Tel Rumeida, Occupied Palestine

Today in al-Khalil (Hebron) Hashem Azzeh, a Palestinian man living in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood was able to successfully harvest his olives, on a certain part of his land, for the first time in 14 years.

Hashem, and volunteers from ISM and CPT pick from his olive tree. Part of the illegal settlement can be seen in the background.

Hashem, and volunteers from ISM and CPT pick from his olive tree. Part of the illegal settlement can be seen in the background.

Hashem and his family live in H2 (the area of Hebron under full Israeli military civil and security control), right next to the illegal settlement in the heart of Tel Rumeida.

Hashem Azzeh

Hashem Azzeh

Since the year 2000, Hashem has applied for a permit from the Israeli authorities to harvest his own olive trees but has been either denied, or received “permission”, and had his olives stolen by Zionist settlers.

This year, Hashem received a permit to harvest six trees today, and along with his brother and activists from ISM and Christian Peacemakers Team – Palestine (CPT), he began to work on his land. Two colonial settlers soon arrived an attempted to convince the Israeli police and army present that Hashem´s land belonged to them and that he should not be picking olives on “their land”.

Despite the attempts to prevent Hashem from picking on his land, the group succeeded in harvesting all of Hashem´s olives in that area.

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Transcript from the interview

For how long have you and your family lived here?

Actually my family is refugees and we came here near 1950 and my grandparents and parents, so three generations lived in this area here.

How many trees do you have?

In this field I have six olive trees one of it destroyed from there and removed totally. But from up there I have another 50 olive trees.

When did you last get a permit to pick your olives from your own land?

The settlers and the Israeli army have prevented us from taking our olives since 2000. I filed applications to take my olives; they gave us permit in the year 2007. In 2007 I said to my self even though I have this permit why wouldn’t the settlers come and attack us? So I invited international activists, ISM, CPT [Christian Peacemaker Teams] too. They came here and we started to pick the olives but the settlers came and started to attack us. The Israeli solders did not do anything for that and they took all of our olives. Last year in 2013 they gave us our permit at 8th of October to harvest our olives, but the settlers came on the 3th of October and stole them. So we have not got any olives since 2000.

So this year I am so happy, this year we have the permit today 20th of October and with the coordination with ISM we have managed to harvest the olives. I am so happy that I have managed for the first time to get the olives. I am so grateful for ISM and for CPT that came to help me get the olives.