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Olives are the most important agricultural season in the agricultural economy for the Palestinians. It is a season that Palestinians usually await with interest because of the source of income it represents. Economist Nael Dweikat from An-Najah National University in Nablus points out that the olive season represents 25% of the national economy in Palestine. There are also about 11 million fruit-bearing olive trees in Palestine, constituting 45% of agricultural land.

Usually, in recent years, this season has become fraught with danger, as farmers are targeted by settlers in an organized and systematic manner, especially in areas and fields close to settlements spread throughout the West Bank. These violations by settlers include preventing farmers, at gunpoint, from reaching the fields, or confiscating olives after the farmers have picked them. These violations against farmers by settlers are usually witnessed by Israeli soldiers who do not work to protect farmers in accordance with the obligations of the occupying power towards civilians stipulated in the Geneva Conventions. Not only that, but sometimes soldiers help settlers in these violations.

This season came in light of the Palestinian war against the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where the occupation authorities in the West Bank isolated and besieged villages and cities and prevented movement between them. Roads in the West Bank were closed either by military checkpoints or blocked by large rocks and dust. This, in addition to the prevention of movement and the cessation of economic life and work, also constituted a barrier to farmers’ access to their lands and farms, especially those planted with olives, in order to reap the crop.

The violation against farmers and preventing them from picking olives this year took an organized and declared form by settlers and many Israeli government officials, which came in the form of warnings to farmers not to pick olives. Soldiers also prevented farmers from reaching their fields and were assaulted by soldiers at checkpoints as well. It happened in the areas of Masafer Yatta a few days ago, or the Taqoua area, south-east of Bethlehem, and many cases in the northern West Bank, especially in Qalqilya Governorate, where farmers from many villages were prevented from reaching their fields, as happened in the villages of Kafr Qaddum and Fart’a, based on the follow-up and documentation of many Agricultural institutions, including the Agricultural Relief Foundation, warned of the loss of the season.

Settlers in this governorate not only prevented farmers from reaching their farms, but also uprooted 650 olive trees in these villages. In the villages of southern Hebron, especially Masafer Yatta, a few days ago, settlers attacked farmers and expelled them from their lands at gunpoint. This was in the presence and in full view of the soldiers, who also asked the farmers to leave, as happened in the village of Litwana. The settlers also destroyed the water network that supplied the village and other villages.

The loss of the olive season this year has become almost certain, and it seems that the occupation authorities and settlers have decided on this matter. If the checkpoints are not opened and the closure on the villages is lifted, movement becomes permitted, and farmers can go to the their olive trees fields to pick the olive crop, and the settlers’ attacks on them will stop. The loss of this decision is certain.

We are at the Alternative Information Center Association- Palestine, and by following up on this important issue, and as we see that international attention, human rights institutions and the international community are drawn to the genocidal war taking place against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and this is important and necessary, we also call for attention and intervention to what is happening in The West Bank suffers from a daily war on cities and villages, and in particular we call for intervention by the occupation authorities to lift the siege on cities and villages and allow farmers to enter their fields to pick olives freely and without harassment or measures to prevent this, and to stop the violations practiced by settlers in most areas of the West Bank against farmers. We warn against the continued prevention of farmers from harvesting olives and the loss of the agricultural season, as this constitutes their loss of the most important source of livelihood for their families and a source of national income at the general level in Palestine. We stress that the days are passing quickly and there must be rapid and effective intervention, and the occupation authorities must be obligated to respect international conventions and the Charter of Human Rights and to carry out their duties as an occupying force towards Palestinian civilians.

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