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Call to action: Olive Harvest 2017

10th July 2017 | International Solidarity Movement | Ramallah, occupied Palestine

At a time of regular settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to join us for the 2017 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.

Despite efforts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities have remained steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest.

Palestinian woman protests the destruction of the olive trees

ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives, in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence when working their land. Your presence can make a big difference, with Palestinian communities stating that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.

We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation, practical support which enables many families to pick their olives. In addition, The olive harvest also provides a wonderful opportunity to spend time with Palestinian families in their olive groves and homes, there is nothing like sipping tea under a olive tree after a long days work.

The harvest will begin in start-October and run until  mid-November.  We request a minimum 2 week commitment from volunteers but stress that long-termers are needed as well.  We kindly ask that volunteers start arriving in the first week of October, so we are prepared when the harvest begins.

Israeli soldier stands next to Palestinian farmers harvesting their olives

Training

The ISM will be holding mandatory two day training sessions which will run weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please contact palreports@gmail.com for further information.

Ongoing campaigns

In addition to the olive harvest, there will be opportunities to participate in grass-roots, non-violent resistance in Palestine.

ISM maintains a constant presence in Hebron, where settler harassment and violence is a regular occurrence. Lately, Israeli army violence has escalated for Palestinians living in proximity to the illegal inner-city settlement. Israeli forces have used the Palestinian neighborhoods for military training. Harassment, humiliations and violence is an almost daily occurrence. A valuable part of the ISM’s work in Hebron is to monitor checkpoints near Palestinian schools. In the morning and afternoon schoolchildren have to pass through the checkpoints, which often lead to violent situations. From time to time young Palestinian boys throw stones at the occupying forces, which leads to collective punishment by the Israeli Forces as they lob dozens of teargas canisters and stun grenades, onto the schoolchildren. ISM is present at these checkpoints to document these extremely violent responses to boys throwing rocks, and to serve as a protective presence.

In addition to these activities, we participate in the weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin and others where our presence is requested and protesters face excessive force by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

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.

In Solidarity,

ISM Palestine