The olive harvest season starts this week – a time of great cultural and economic significance for Palestinian society – and HaMoked is hard at work to ensure it can take place as freely as possible, despite Israel's restrictions on movement and access.
This year’s harvest is set to be even more challenging than usual, due to Coronavirus restrictions and the freeze in coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The PA typically facilitates permit applications for Palestinians whose lands are trapped behind the Separation Barrier, and coordinates access to olive groves in restricted areas near Israeli settlements. As a result of the PA's halt in coordination, Palestinians must now go to Israeli military coordination offices (DCOs) to request permits directly. This sudden change has led to such severe overcrowding and chaos at the DCOs, that many farmers have to return several times before they even manage to submit their permit request.
HaMoked has written to the military several times ahead of the harvest, demanding that it grant increased access during the harvest to Palestinians whose lands are trapped behind the Separation Barrier; that it respond to the overcrowding in the DCOs and ensure that all farmers receive the permits to which they are entitled without having to endanger their health; and that it ensure that Palestinian communities are able to harvest groves that are adjacent to settlements.
For the duration of the harvest season, HaMoked is expanding its freedom of movement team who will receive calls from individuals and communities, advocate directly with the Israeli military, and petition the courts to ensure Palestinian farmers can access their groves. We will maintain an emergency hotline with expanded working hours to provide real-time assistance, challenging access restrictions and ensuring that agricultural gates are opened as scheduled and that the Israeli military fulfills its obligation to respect the safety and welfare of the Palestinian population.
This assistance is vital for the thousands of Palestinians who depend on income from the harvest, and who are at risk of losing an entire year’s yield. HaMoked's already limited resources are under additional strain due to the Coronavirus crisis: please help us provide this much-needed assistance by making a donation to HaMoked.
Executive Director of HaMoked