Fair trade organizations protest Israeli orders to uproot 1,400 olive trees (PHOTOS)

Israel claims that olive trees in Wadi Qana must be uprooted for a nature reserve, but the move is about controlling the land and destroying the Palestinian economy.

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Israeli civil administration document orders Palestinian farmers from Deir Istiya to uproot 1,400 olive trees in Wadi Qana by 1 May 2012.

Keren Manor ActiveStills

Settlers from the eight colonies near Deir Istiya village have attacked Palestinian property and harassed residents.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

Palestinians, internationals and Israeli activists spend the night in Wadi Qana to support the Palestinians farmers and try to prevent the Israeli army from uprooting the olive trees.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

Fair trade organizations, including the North American group Zatoun and its UK sister organization Zaytoun, and the UK-based Fairtrade Foundation are circulating a petition initiated by International Women’s Peace Service after Israel ordered nine Palestinian farmers from Deir Istiya village to uproot 1,400 trees by 1 May in the Wadi Qana valley in the occupied West Bank. The petition is directed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

According to a 1 May post on the Fairtrade Foundation website:

Taysir Arbasi, from Zaytoun [organization] in Palestine, described the destruction: ‘the age of the trees is between 3 to 15 years, belonging to farmers from Deir Istiya. The capacity of production of these trees is around 5,000 kg of olives’. For farmers in this district olives are the primary source of income.

This is the largest order to uproot trees that the farmers of Wadi Qana have ever been given. Most of the trees were planted about five years ago on privately owned Palestinian property. The orders, placed on retaining terraces, rocks and fences in the vicinity of the trees, state that if the farmers do not uproot their trees they will face punishment which could, according to Deir Istiya mayor Nazmi Salman, include large fines and imprisonment.

As of publication, the demolition orders had not been carried out and residents and activists have been keeping vigil in Wadi Qana in an attempt to prevent the Israeli military from uprooting the olive trees. The Israeli government says that the land in question is a “protected natural area” — a designation Israel gives to privately-owned Palestinian land in order to colonize it and push Palestinians off of it.

Greenpeace unconcerned

International Women’s Peace Service notes on the petition site: “The IWPS team made contact with Greenpeace as surely this is an issue that would concern such an organisation. However Greenpeace UK have responded to say they will only get involved on the request of Greenpeace Israel. IWPS has also received a response from Greenpeace Canada who have simply wished us best of luck with our petition.”

This is not the first time that Deir Istiya farmers have been affected by the occupation. As Allison Deger writes for Mondoweiss, the economy of Dear Istiya, “one of the largest olive-producing regions in the West Bank,” has been hampered by the eight nearby Israeli settlement colonies. Settlers have attacked farmers, threatened children from the village and damaged property. Deger also notes that the order to uproot 1,400 trees “is 400 more trees than the total number uprooted in all of 2011.”

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Thanks for covering this very important story and helping us to circulate the petition and raise awareness of the continual theft of Palestinian land by the Israeli government. BTW, a new order was found by a farmer for his field, with an order to uproot another 600 trees, bringing the total number to around 2000.The Wadi Qana has been a natural preserve for hundreds of years. The Palestinians have kept so. A hike in the valley, with its many natural springs, citrus and olive groves, and wild flora and fauna, is a hike through natural beauty. The only eyesore are the illegal settlement that ring the valley and dump their raw sewage into the Wadi Qana. For updated information, please visit International Women's Peace Service ( info.iwps ) website. We are based in Deir Istyia and keeping presence with the Wadi Qana farmers and other internationals and Israeli activists. Thanks again Electric
Intifada!

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Thank you Marie for the further information, it is much appreciated — please do send future updates to info A T  electronicintifada D O T net

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Olive trees don't produce anything for 50-100 years after planting, so this action is not depriving any living farmers of anything. One plants olive trees for one's great grandchildren. That being said, the Israelis are showing thier long term plans for that land. They have no intention of ever giving up that land. I can see no other option, unless someone thinks that Israel can be defeated in a war, and that has been tried many times, with absolutely no success. I am not pro-Israel, but I am a realist, and I have no desire to die in WWIII.

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What is absolutely telling is the sum of these individual acts. One at a time they are excused by Israel, but view the "forest" instead of the olive tree, and you get the big picture.

The previous poster Lucente worries about WWIII. I WORRY IF WE DO NOT STOP ISRAEL WE ARE GUARANTEED WWIII.

Israel is not as all-powerful politically as they would have us believe. More and more of us see the truth.

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Why is there virtually no discussion in the USA about Israel's illegal activities in the West Bank. Israel's settlements and infrastructure serving them, plus security positions, now occupy 42% of the West Bank. By international law this is all illegal.

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The apartheid rulers in South Africa were also thought to be invincible with many powerful allies, including Israel who wanted it to be armed with nuclear weapons.

As they were brought down, so too will the zionist apartheid regime.

Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.