Palestinian farmers are once again at risk of losing their livelihoods around the occupied West Bank, and some other areas as they face "acts of harassment and violence" by Israeli settlers, International Committee of the Red Cross said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on Israel to ensure safe and adequate access for Palestinians to their olive groves in the occupied West Bank during the yearly olive harvest season.
“For years, the ICRC has observed a seasonal peak in violence by Israeli settlers residing in certain settlements and outposts in the West Bank towards Palestinian farmers and their property in the period leading up to the olive harvest season, as well as during the harvest season itself in October and November,” said Els Debuf, head of the ICRC's mission in Jerusalem.
“Farmers also experience acts of harassment and violence that aim at preventing a successful harvest, not to mention the destruction of farming equipment, or the uprooting and burning of olive trees. This is an important concern that we continue to share with the authorities in charge,” she added.
Olive harvest is never easy for Palestinian families living near the West Bank barrier or close to the settlements.— ICRC in Israel & OT (@ICRC_ilot) October 7, 2021
We ask for efficient coordination and protection to be put in place to enable free and safe access for the farmers to their olive groves.🫒🫒 pic.twitter.com/OcX9myShht
Olive harvest is among the main sources of livelihood for over 100,000 Palestinian families. However, according to the ICRC, over nine thousand olive trees have been destroyed in the West Bank since August 2020.
More than a thousand of those trees had been burned or damaged within the first three weeks of the harvest.
In addition, nineteen disruptions were reportedly caused by Israelis, with twenty three farmers injured.
While Palestinian farmers report such assaults each year, Israeli settlers tend to dispute their claims.
The West Bank, a landlocked area under Israeli occupation since 1967, is now a home to about 2.5 million Palestinians, some of whom are living under limited self-rule, while some regions are under strict Israeli military control.
Nearly 500,000 illegal Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 war.
In addition to more than 120 authorised settlements, more radical settlers have established dozens of outposts in rural parts of the West Bank.
All Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are regarded as illegal by most of the international community.