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25 Oct, 2014

Jewish fanatics block Palestinians’ access to their own olive groves

JERUSALEM, October 23, 2014 (WAFA) – The ongoing Israeli settlers’ violence and the access restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians with regards to accessing their olive groves, continue to negatively impact their lives and livelihoods, said UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley on Thursday.

Community representatives and olive farmers in the towns of al-Janiya in the Ramallah governorate, and Biddu in the Jerusalem governorate described the negative impact that continued settler violence and access restrictions to their olive groves have on their lives and livelihoods.

United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) Rawly, visited two Palestinian, olive-producing communities in the central West Bank today, along with members of the diplomatic and donor community, the Ministry of Agriculture, and representatives of humanitarian organizations.

UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) briefed the delegation on the programs which are specifically dedicated to support al-Janiya and Biddu as productive olive-producing communities along others in the West Bank.

Rawly said the annual olive harvest is a vital economic, social and cultural component for the Palestinian livelihood, because “nearly half of all cultivated land in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) is planted with olive trees.”

Communities with olive groves located between the Israeli Segregation Wall and the 1967 borders, and in the vicinity of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, face serious challenges in maintaining and harvesting their olive crops. “This undermines livelihoods and increases dependency on aid,” OCHA’s statement read.

Rawly called for an immediate action to support Palestinian olive farmers to ensure protection from attacks by settlers; accountability for settler violence; the lifting of restrictions on Palestinians’ access to their agricultural land; and support to olive producing communities.”

He warned of the ongoing neglect which would lead to a severe damage to the olive sector in the West Bank.

According to OCHA statistics, the olive oil industry constitutes 25% of Palestinians agricultural income.

The statement said that in the period between 2006 to the end of September 2014, OCHA recorded over 2,300 settler-related incidents which resulted in Palestinian casualties or property damage in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In 2013 alone, there were nearly 399 incidents of settlers’ violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, reported OCHA.

Meanwhile, nearly 50,000 fruit-bearing trees, mainly olive trees, were destroyed or damaged in such incidents in the period from 2009 to the end of August 2014.

Approximately 150 Palestinian communities have land located between the Segregation Wall and the 1967 borders, with only 50% of farmers’ granted access to their land during the olive harvest season in the last four years, revealed statistics by OCHA.

On October 10, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported that an olive farmer, Mahmoud Eid along with his wife and three children were attacked by a group of Israeli extreme settlers from the illegal settlement of ‘Giv’at Ya’akov’.

The family which was present in its land near the village of Burin, south west of Nablus, was attacked by five male settlers. According to ISM, the settlers threw rocks at the vulnerable family and Eid tried to protect his family by covering them with the canvas used under trees to collect the fallen olive fruit.

The settlers physically attacked Eid and hit him in the chest, stomach and the head, and his foot was badly bruised by the stones hurled toward him and his family by the settlers.

Eid’s incident is just one of many others, in which Palestinians suffer from either severe physical injuries, loss of property and trees or financial losses.

According to WAFA correspondent, a group of Israeli settlers broke into a Palestinian private owned land near Tulkarm, in the northern West Bank, and stole 10 large sacks stuffed with olives. The farmer said he left the crop about two days ago when he was assaulted by illegal Israeli settlers.