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UAWC advocates for the Palestinian farmers’ rights

UAWC advocates for the Palestinian farmers’ rights

  Via Creating Relations between Palestinian Farmers and Japanese People


In the Palestinian situation, it is important to always feel that we are not alone especially the farmers. Accordingly, a Skype meeting on the 6th of October was held between Palestinian farmers in Ni’lin and a group of Japanese supporters and activists in Japan. The meeting focused on the difficulties that Palestinian farmers’ daily face as a result of the policies of the Israeli occupation.

During the meeting, the farmer Munir Orabi expressed the situation he lives in pointing that his village is surrounded by the wall and Israeli settlements which create difficulties for reaching his own land.  He also explained how olive and olive oil are essential elements in their lives for they use them for cooking and also for medical treatment (they put olive oil on their bodies in order to ease the physical pain). According to the United Nation’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian Territories (OCHA), the olive industry makes up 14% of the agricultural income for the occupied Palestinian territories and supports the livelihoods of approximately 80,000 families. 

Due to the Israeli Occupation and its racist policies the annual olive harvest has become extremely difficult as a result of barriers, checkpoints, wall and the system of permits that all stand between the peasants and their land. The number of barrier gates, according to OCHA, increased to 73 in 2012 but the majority (52) is closed year round, except for the olive harvest period and only then for limited hours. Regarding the permits system, in 2011 42% of applications for permits to access olive groves behind the Barrier submitted prior to the harvest season were rejected, compared to 39% in 2010.

Reaching the land to harvest is not the only problem that Palestinian peasants face. The Israeli settlers and Israeli army commit violations towards the people and the land. In the West Bank, over 7,500 olive trees belonging to the Palestinians were damaged by the Israeli settlers between January and mid October 2012. In the Gaza strip, 7,300 dunums of land along the perimeter fence with Israel that were previously planted with olive trees have been leveled during Israeli military operations.

It is important to highlight that UAWC organizes an annual olive harvest campaign to help the Palestinian farmers by gathering local and international groups of volunteers. This years’ campaign was under the slogan” Sovereignty on Our Land,” and it is within Defending Our Rights project which is funded by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). This year’s slogan is derived from the circumstances surrounding the Palestinians and affecting their lives directly. To elaborate, the Israeli occupation deprived the Palestinians from controlling their water resources and allowed them to use only 20% of it, this constitutes only 10% of their human needs not mentioning the negative implications on the agricultural sector as a whole, and this is only an example of how the Palestinians lack sovereignty on their land and its resources. Since food sovereignty is directly connected to land sovereignty, the UAWC this year raises this slogan to stand next to the peasants, help and support them to protect their right in land and food sovereignty.

At the end of the Skype meeting, an activist from the Japanese audience asked him what does olive land means to him, without hesitation he answered: “ It is an important part of life that Palestinian’s can’t live without.” Finally, the farmer Orabi stressed on his appreciation towards the support of the Japanese people to the Palestinian farmers and the Palestinian olive products.