How settler violence and access restrictions jeopardized the Palestinian olive harvest in 2021

Première Urgence Internationale, the West Bank Protection Consortium and OXFAM have produced the infographic below on How settler violence and access restrictions jeopardized the Palestinian olive harvest in 2021.

Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive trees, dating back to 4,000 years, making the olive harvest an integral part of Palestinian cultural heritage. Palestinian olive cultivation represents the steadfastness and resilience of communities that are engaged in a daily struggle to remain on their lands.

The yearly spike in settler violence during the harvest and the inability of farmers to access their olive trees therefore endangers not only the livelihoods and economic sustainability of Palestinians, but also Palestinians’ cultural and physical connection to the land.

The root causes of these issues can be traced to Israel’s twin policies of land appropriation and settlement construction. Until these policies are ceased and reversed, settler violence and associated loss of property and sources of livelihood, restricted access to services, and protection threats will keep triggering demand for assistance and protection measures by the humanitarian community in the long term preventing development and economic growth.

This year, during the olive harvest there were at least 39 incidents of settler violence targeting farmers and their livelihood assets. This is more than one incident every two days. Of these attacks, 92% resulted in casualties, property damage, or the stealing of crops and harvesting tools.

Of note, 53.8% per cent of this year’s incidents (21) took place in prior coordination areas next to settlements, where Palestinians access is heavily restricted. In most of these cases, farmers found that their trees had been damaged or burnt, or that the fruit had already been harvested.

Already in September 2021, prior to – and impacting- the Olive Harvest, 338 olive trees were set on fire by settlers, 142 olive trees were cut down and vandalized, 7 olive trees were uprooted , and the harvest of 26 trees was stolen.

We call for third States to require Israeli authorities to comply with its binding obligations as the Occupying Power under international law, and to urgently raise the issues of settler violence and access restrictions. Specifically, Israeli authorities must be called upon to:

  •  Immediately cease all settlement-related construction activity.
  •  Take all necessary measures to ensure the prevention of—and protection against—all acts of settler violence; the effective investigation, prosecution and sanction of those responsible, and access to remedy for victims of settler-related violence.
  •  Ensure that the fundamental right of Palestinians to freedom of movement in the oPt, including safe access to agricultural lands and natural resources, is fully respected.

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