Internationals Help in Olive Picking in Israeli-Threatened Areas

RAMALLAH, October 28, 2013 (WAFA) – More than 130 international activists from 16 countries ended Monday 10 days of helping Palestinian farmers with olive picking in West Bank areas threatened by either Israeli takeover or settler violence, according to a press release.

The YMCA-YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI), in cooperation with the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG), invited activists through Christian organizations, churches and solidarity movements from 16 American, European and Asian countries to help in picking olives with Palestinian farmers and landowners in the Bethlehem area.

The lands and farms selected are under threat of confiscation by the Israelis, continuously attacked by settlers, located beyond the apartheid wall or have Jewish colonies constructed adjacent to or on part of the land, said the JAI press release.

It said Israeli soldiers Sunday prevented the international participants from getting to the fields in Taqou village, east of Bethlehem, although the farmer has official documents of his ownership of the land.

The participants argued severely with the soldiers about the reason for this, with various unjust excuses given, said the press release.

Field trips and tours of major West Bank cities introduced the participants to the Palestinian farmers’ stories and people suffering under the Israeli occupation and the practices of its settlers.

The Olive Picking Program is one piece of the JAI’ Olive Tree Campaign (OTC), which is in its twelfth year, seeks to mobilize activists and groups around the world to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian farmer through the application of pressure on Israel to end the occupation.

In this regard, the program included introductions and discussions on main international advocacy campaigns including: the Kairos Palestine Christian Initiative, the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and others.