The olive harvest in Palestine has been abundant this year. However, farmers and their families have also endured a rising number of violent attacks from settlers as they attempt to harvest their fruit. In the face of such adversity we continue to be inspired by their resilience and steadfast response.
The olive harvest in Burin
This year, for the first time since the pandemic began, the Protective Presence team, were able to join farmers as they harvested their olives. It’s a trip that changes participants’ lives, because of the relationships they form with host families and their lands.
On her return to the UK one member of the team, Nacera, wrote: “I left Palestine with a broken heart. I wept. I left behind women and men who welcomed us with love, with gratitude, with their colourful and tasty food. I left behind those friends who shared with us their daily struggles around a cup of tea or a cup of coffee. One farmer, for example, had lost 200 olive trees burned by the settlers, another had lost 150 trees, and another 50 trees…and so on. Yet, every single day we met for helping with picking the olives, we ended up laughing for a reason or another.”
Doha Asous, pictured below, is a farmer in Burin. She has hosted volunteers with the Protective Presence team for many years. A member of The Slow Food Movement Palestine, she farms her family land in the way her ancestors have done for generations.
Some of her lands are adjacent to the illegal settlement of Giveat Ronean, and for this land she was given just 2 days to harvest her olives. International volunteers were threatened with arrest if they stayed with her. On the first of those days, she suffered harassment by inhabitants from the settlement, which interfered with her harvest. On her return for the second day, she arrived to find 30 of her trees cut down by settlers.. These trees had been planted by her grandfather.
Settler attacks like these are part of a wider pattern of rising violence and intimidation. According to Visualizing Palestine, there has been a 170% increase in settler violence between 2017 and 2022.
She told the Slow Food Movement what hosting the international volunteer team means to her “I coordinate the activity of international volunteers who come to help us with the harvest. Their presence is essential to us: as well as their practical help, they also give us courage,”
Doha will be joining an online panel at the ORFC – Oxford Real Farming Conference in January 2023, and we are delighted to announce that she has accepted our invitation to visit the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight 2023. Please sign up to our newsletter for more details.
A family visit to the olive harvest in Gaza
The siege on Gaza makes entry and exit near impossible and the toll of more than 15 years of closure has had a devastating impact. However, after a long and arduous journey, our co-founder, Heather Masoud with her husband and children, spent the half-term break with family in Gaza. They were able to enjoy the positivity of harvesting the olives from the family tree and enjoy grapes freshly cut from the vines.