TULKARM, Wednesday, October 19, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli forces today prevented farmers from harvesting their olive groves near Deir al-Ghusun town, northeast of Tulkarm city, according to WAFA correspondent.
She reported some farmers from the northern West Bank town saying they were shocked to find out that Israeli soldiers sealed off the gates in the section of Israel’s apartheid wall in the early morning hours, denying them access to their olive groves isolated by the wall.
The soldiers forced the farmers to go back citing the closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the pretext of the Jewish holidays.
The town mayor, Yazid al-Qab, elaborated that the soldiers hermetically sealed the three agricultural gates along the wall, west of the town, inflicting heavy material losses on the farmers who depend on olive oil for their livelihoods.
He added that the wall effectively isolates 2,400 donums of fertile Palestinian-owned land planted with olive trees while pointing that the soldiers procrastinate on opening the gates, restricting entry for limited hours.
Settlers have recently stepped up their attacks against olive harvesters across the occupied West Bank, mainly in Nablus and Salfit districts, attacking farmers and preventing them from picking their olives.
Over 9,000 olive trees have been destroyed in the West Bank since August 2020, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which called on Israel to ensure safe, timely, and adequate access for Palestinians to their olive groves in the occupied West Bank.
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.”