At a time of increasing settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to participate in the 2010 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.
The olive tree is a national symbol for Palestinians. As thousands of olive trees have been bulldozed, uprooted and burned by Israeli settlers and the military – (over half a million olive and fruit trees have been destroyed since September 2000) – harvesting has become more than a source of livelihood; it has become a form of resistance.
The olive harvest is an annual affirmation of Palestinians’ historical, spiritual and economic connection to their land, and a rejection of Israeli efforts to seize it. Despite efforts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities remain steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest
International and Israeli volunteers join Palestinians each year to harvest olives, and this makes a big difference. It has proven in the past to help limit and decrease the number and severity of attacks and harassment. The presence of activists can reduce the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army and supports Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihood. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation and this practical support enables many families to pick their olives. In addition The Olive Harvest Campaign also provides a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Palestinian families in their olive groves and homes.
The campaign will begin on the 8th or 9th of October and run for approximately 6-8 weeks, depending on the size of the harvest. We request a minimum 2 week commitment from volunteers.
In addition to the olive harvest, there will also be other opportunities to participate in grass-roots, non-violent resistance in Palestine.
In occupied East Jerusalem, ISM activists have been staying in Sheikh Jarrah, where the Hanoun and Ghawe families, evicted from their houses by Israeli police and settlers, maintain a presence, and the Al-Kurd family endure constant harassment from settlers who have occupied part of their home . We will continue to support the initiatives of families who face evictions or demolitions in all Palestinian neighborhoods in order to resist the ongoing ethnic cleansing of occupied East Jerusalem.
ISM maintains a presence in Hebron and is making regular visits to the nearby village of Al Buwayra where settlers have terrorized villagers in recent weeks with regular attacks, including the unprovoked assault of two ISM activists. Lately the Israeli army has used brutal violence to suppress the regular demonstration for the opening of Shuhada street. They have shut down local shops and made numerous arrests of Palestinians and international activists in attempts to thwart the demo, sometimes also fabricating crimes and prosecuting activists leading to fines, bans and spells in jail.
We also have an apartment in Nablus from where we work on a number of projects including resisting demolitions in the village of Izbet Tabib, documenting the rioting and olive tree-burning of settlers and attending the weekly demonstration in Iraq Burin where the military have been illegally firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters.
Other regular demonstrations ISM participate in include those in the village of Bil’in where rubber bullets have been used to disperse unarmed protestors and a campaign of legal persecution has been waged against key protest organizers in an attempt to repress the grassroots nonviolent resistance movement.
ISM activists have also been attending weekly demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall, the annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of illegal settlements in Al Ma’sara, Ni’lin, An Nabi Saleh, Al Walaja and Beit Ummar.
Come! Bear witness to the suffering, courage and generosity of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.
Experiencing the situation for yourself is vital to adequately convey the reality of life in Palestine to your home communities and to re-frame the debate in a way that will expose Israel’s apartheid policies; creeping ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem as well as collective punishment and genocidal practices in Gaza.