Days of Palestine – Ramallah
A Jewish settler set fire to hundreds of olive trees in the Palestinian village of Safa, west of Ramallah, after throwing a Molotov cocktail on a hot and dry summer-like day at a field filled with olive trees, according to WAFA news agency.
It said when residents rushed to their land to put off the fire, which lasted for three hours, Israeli soldiers stationed in the area prevented them from crossing the apartheid barrier that separates Palestinian villagers from their farms to reach their lands and save the trees.
Israel intervened to put off the fire and used a helicopter to do that only after it threatened the nearby illegal Jewish settlement of Orlinim, built on land seized from Safa village.
Palestinians have just started the olive harvest season in the West Bank, a main source of income for thousands of Palestinian families. However, Israeli settlers regularly attack Palestinian harvesters and burn down of cut olive trees in hate crimes committed against the civilian Palestinian population under Israeli occupation.
With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45% of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families.
According to UN OCHA, the olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families and accounts for a quarter of the gross agricultural income of the occupied territories.
But, as local NGO MIFTAH notes, “olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any other trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land.”
“Because the trees are drought-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.”