The olive trees of Palestinian farmer Mohammed Assi and his cousin Samih wiped out after they were overwhelmed by the Israeli occupation and its forces machine and uprooted more than 500 trees in the middle of this month, wreaking considerable destruction and ruin on the ground, depriving it of its annual production of about a ton of oil.
This was not the only attack targeting the trees of the citizen Assi along with hundreds of farmers in his town “Qarwa Bani Hassan” near Salfit and various Palestinian areas in the West Bank. Israeli violations have affected more than 13 thousand trees since the beginning of this year, according to a report prepared by the Land Research Centre to mark World Olive Tree Day.
On 14 November last, Mohammed returned us to tell us that large forces of the occupation force including dozens of workers in civilian uniform had invaded his land at dawn after they had surrounded the area militarily and blocked access to it, even when the soldiers had detained him for about two hours when he tried to enter and assure them that it was his land and that he had paperwork proved this
How is the cutting done?
This “disaster” did not occur, as Assi describes it, to him alone, even if he was affected more than others, but it targeted about two thousand trees, and targeted lands of more than 150 dunams (a dunam equals a thousand square meters), and he tells Al Jazeera Net that the occupation uprooted 500 trees from their land, claiming It is a “nature reserve” and within the “C” areas under its security control.
In 2012, Assi, like others, received an Israeli notification targeting the land and its trees, but he appealed the occupation procedure by a decision of the Israeli court that he has the right to work on his land and re-register it in his name to confirm his ownership of it, in addition to notifying him of any step of the occupation a month before implementation.
About a ton of oil, amounting to $ 6 thousand generates the trees of an estimated quarter-century-old citizen of Assi, weakened by the rest of the trees targeted by the occupation in its last campaign.
This explains what the occupying Power has done in a dangerous precedent by invading the village, Military encirclement and directly cutting down trees with chainsaws, taking them off with bulldozers, pouring chemicals on their roots to kill them permanently, and destroying farmer’s tools altogether.
The mayor of Qarwa Bani Hassan, Ibrahim Assi, says that the most dangerous thing to target the tree publicly and without warning is to target the entire land as being located in the “C” area.
The occupation classifies 92% of the estimated 9,500 dunums of village land in C areas and wants to empty the land from humans, stone, and trees “to satisfy the settlers who blockade the village through 7 settlements, one of which confiscates 200 dunums of the village.”
How many olives do the Palestinians plant? What does the tree mean to them physically and morally?
The olive tree is the oldest in Palestine, and the ancient Palestinians were the first to develop its cultivation, extraction and investment of its oil. Palestine has the oldest olive tree in the world in the village of Al-Walaja, south of Jerusalem, which experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimated to be about 5,500 years old. Greater than all the occupations that passed on Palestine.
According to the statistics of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, olives are the largest agricultural crops in Palestine, constituting 45% of the total agricultural area and more than 85% of the area of horticultural trees planted in Palestine.
About 100,000 Palestinian families (more than 600,000 people) work and benefit from this sector, while the area of olives is about 907 thousand dunums (a dunum = one thousand square meters) with 13.6 million trees, of which about 11 million are fruitful and about 2.6 million are non-fruit trees.
Olives are a main source of food and income for the Palestinian citizen, in addition to being a factor of stability and steadfastness for him, and constitutes an impenetrable bulwark by defending and protecting the land, and the Palestinian is linked to olives religiously, politically, culturally, historically and emotionally.
Successive occupation governments have targeted the olive tree in their schemes since 1967, “considering it as an enemy at least as dangerous as any resistance, and planning to target it as they plan any military action”, according to Mahmoud Al-Saifi, director of the North West Bank Land Research Centre.
How does the occupation target Palestinian olives
Since its occupation of Palestine in 1948 and then the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has been wreaking havoc with the olive tree, targeting it by uprooting, cutting, and extermination through pollution and poisoning. Since the beginning of the occupation, more than 2 million olive trees have been uprooted, the latest of which is 13,130 trees this year, according to the Land Research Center.
With arguments advanced by the occupation, such as public parks, natural reserves, military and archaeological areas, and by classifying it as “C” areas, amounting to 62% of the West Bank, the occupation targets the Palestinian land and uproots its olive trees.
It uses military force across the army to achieve its objectives, while settlers, in addition to their aggression, monitor Palestinians and report any move they make, such as the cultivation, reclamation, or construction of their land with olives, as does the settlement association “Regafim.
Why is the occupation targeting Palestinian olives?
The Israeli occupation practiced a fully fledged crime against the olive tree, attempting to falsify history by stealing large and perennial trees, then targeting olive lands, exploiting the vast majority of them in the “C” areas, while its settlers resorted to stealing olive fruits and attacking farmers while working on their land.
The occupation tried to uproot trees to facilitate their seizure, in accordance with its unjust laws, of the land after it had been converted to the wasteland (the Land Law exploits Birr and Non-Perennial for 10 years), according to Mahmoud al-Saifi over the past four years, the northern West Bank Land Research Center has documented the uprooting of more than 50 thousand olive trees by the occupation army.
How much did the Palestinian lose from uprooting olive trees?
Overall, violations of the occupation and its settlers against some 9 thousand olive trees caused a loss of more than $ 6 million this year, but the most dangerous – according to Ramez Obeid, head of the island’s olive department, to Jazeera Net is to isolate and confiscate the occupation of tens of thousands of olive trees.
There is 7% of the olive area in Palestine located near and within the annexation wall, racial expansion and settlements, and it is estimated at about 70 thousand dunums, and it increases annually by more than 750 thousand settlers and because of more than 310 settlements and outposts, of which 107 settlements extend along the separation wall.
The owners of the land are prevented from accessing it except through permits and for limited and short times during the year and amid many obstacles and attacks, and this causes a loss of 5% of the annual production amount, which is estimated at 22 thousand tons annually.
How does the Palestinian respond to the occupation’s violations against his land and olive trees?
Alone and through various institutions, the Palestinian resists until his last breath in defending his land and olives, which are spoiled by the Israel occupation and its settlers, so he replants trees or restores the damaged ones, especially if the they prevents them from being replanted again.
There are official and civil institutions that support the farms, including the Ministry of Agriculture, which documents the occupation’s attacks and provides about 200,000 olive seedlings annually in support of farmers, and contributes to the construction of roads and the reconstruction of the land. The Land Research Center has also been working on reclaiming 10,000 dunams since 2000 and planting them with more than 100,000 olive trees and tens of thousands of other trees.
As part of its campaign “Planting a Million Trees in Palestine”, which has been running since 2001, the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature in Jordan reclaimed about 132 thousand dunums and planted them with more than two and a half million trees for more than 30 thousand farmers, including more than one million and 300 thousand olive trees. On the ground, the farmer is considered the first line of defense for his land and olives, and he receives annual support implemented by some different associations, such as the “We are with you” campaign launched by the Agricultural Relief and “Fazaa” carried out by activists against settlements and aims to help and protect farmers whose lands are close to the wall and settlements, and provide them with agricultural tools.