Clarifications by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees
On March 31st 2016, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) organized a march in which hundreds of the Palestinian farmers, community members, representatives of Palestinian Authority ministries, staff of local and international NGOs participated; to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of “Land Day”. At the end of the event the participants planted olive seedlings in a hilly area threatened
with confiscation by the Israelis in the eastern part of Al-Bireh City.
Land Day refers to an event that occurred on 30th March 1976, when Israeli Authorities confiscated thousands of donums of land owned by Palestinians in the Galilee and Al-Mothalath , which resulted in an outbreak of peaceful protests by the indigenous Palestinians community and the owners of the confiscated land. They protest was suppressed violently by the Israeli police who used live bullets, resulting in 6 protestors being killed in cold blood.
During the UAWC event last March, participants raised the banners calling for Palestinian unity, support for Palestinian farmers and the protection of the land from the risks of confiscation and Judaization In addition, other banners called upon the Palestinian Authority to stop impeding Palestinian Civil society efforts and work, to stop imposing income tax on farmers, to resubmit the Social Welfare Law for further discussion and to raise the agricultural sector’s portion of the Palestinian Authority’s budget.
Since its establishment in 1986 UAWC has commemorated “Land Day” every year. The land is considered the core value of UAWC’s developmental work1 UAWC’s Mission is: Empower small farmers, both men and women, as well as their families, and strengthen farmers’ resilience on their lands in an agricultural and public developmental framework at the public level. and the core of the conflict with the Israelis ,who refuse to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination, as supported globally by the majority of people in the world; on the basis of the resolutions of the international community. And who even avoid fulfilling their obligations as per the Oslo agreements which they signed in 1993 with the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership.
The Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), as it’s done with other Palestinian entities, is conducting a misleading incitement campaign against UAWC, accusing them of using the donors’ resources to celebrate the “killers of the Israelis”, as per their article dated 4th of April 2016.
We at UAWC wish to clarify the following facts:
1. As per our vision and mission, our slogan at UAWC is “To protect our lands and to stand for our farmers’ rights”. We celebrate Land Day every year through planting seedlings to ensure the steadfastness of our farmers on their lands and to protect them from the Occupation. Also, we celebrate this day to call upon the Palestinian Authority to stand for the rights of farmers’ through its economic and social policies.
2. UAWC has planted the olives seedlings in an area under threat of confiscation by the Israelis, in the eastern part of Al Bireh. This is what we have been doing since our establishment in 1986, in order to protect the land from being confiscated and from the endemic Occupation which threatens our rights as Palestinians to self-determination according to the UN resolutions.
3. The Representatives of the “National Campaign for Retrieving the bodies of Martyrs” and the martyrs’ family members; decided to hang the names of the martyrs on the seedlings which they planted. For UAWC, it was not possible to stop this action for humanitarian and compassionate reasons, as well as, a way to express our refusal to the Israeli Occupiers violations of the Palestinian’s right to life.
4. We at UAWC consider the martyrs who lost their lives during the last 6 months and in many instances their execution was extrajudicial, as victims; due to the continuous occupation of our land for the past 49 years. Those martyrs such as; Fady Alloun, Abd Al Fattah Al Sharif, and Iyad Sajdiyeh who were killed in cold blood and had not been threating anyone – this has also been confirmed Be’tselem, amongst others. According to the NGO Defense of Children International’s (DCI) report dated 4/4/2016, 45 children have been killed, some of whom bodies are still detained, deprived even from a basic right to be buried in dignity.
5. At the same time, as we consider the martyrs are victims of the Israeli occupation, we also stress that we never celebrate the killing of Israelis and we categorically refuse this accusation by the Israeli organization Palestine Media Watch.
6. Finally, it is worth highlighting that the partiality with facts incitement campaign by the Israeli PMW is not only aimed at UAWC, but has and is also targeting even Israeli Institutions for Human Rights which highlight the Occupiers practices and policies against all the Palestinian population.
1 UAWC’s Mission is: Empower small farmers, both men and women, as well as their families, and strengthen farmers’ resilience on their lands in an agricultural and public developmental framework at the public level.
Ramallah – Palestine 10 April 2016