` A Palestinian Man's Long-Awaited Olive Harvest

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A Palestinian Man's Long-Awaited Olive Harvest

Nov. 4, 2014
By Cam Waller

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Hashem Azzeh (Photo: O Ter­ritório)

As a pri­mary crop and source of income for many through­out Pales­tine, the olive har­vest is a crit­i­cal time for Pales­tini­ans. Unfor­tu­nately, har­vest­ing has been dan­ger­ously dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble for many farm­ers as a result of Israeli mil­i­tary con­trol and oppos­ing set­tlers.

One such man is Hashem Azzeh, who said he had been unable to har­vest his olive trees since 2000. Azzeh lives on Tel Rumeida — a street in the H2 part of Hebron — and set­tlers live mere meters from his home.

For those who live in H2, which is under Israeli mil­i­tary con­trol, a per­mit from the Israeli Army is required before olives can be picked. If the per­mit is granted, the farmer gets one day to har­vest all of his olives, but the army can turn down per­mit appli­ca­tions with­out pro­vid­ing any rea­son. For the next six years, Azzeh was unable to obtain a per­mit.

Azzeh was finally granted a per­mit in 2007, but he had watched as his olives were stolen and destroyed year after year, so he knew that hav­ing per­mis­sion was no guar­an­tee that things would go well. Even with the help of two activist orga­ni­za­tions — The Inter­na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment (ISM) and Chris­t­ian Peace­maker Teams (CPT) — Azzeh said he was attacked dur­ing the har­vest, bring­ing it to an end.

Azzeh did­n’t get another per­mit until 2013. He was sched­uled to har­vest on Octo­ber 8, but his olives were again stolen five days before­hand. This year, his per­mit allowed him to har­vest six of the more than 50 trees he owns on Octo­ber 20.

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ISM and CPT helped Azzeh this year too, and though there were protests by set­tlers, all six trees were suc­cess­fully har­vested.

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