Due to Israel's ongoing war on Gaza and the West Bank, we have had no choice but to suspend our annual Olive Harvest campaign. When the situation is calm, we'll once again accept volunteers to come join us on the ground.
Every year we invite our supporters to come join local Palestinian families in the ancient tradition of the Olive Harvest. Come help help families pick olives from trees that are hundreds of years old!
You will stay in our community center or with families and participate in the harvesting of the olives. As a volunteer, you will work side by side with Palestinian families in a practice handed down from generation to generation. You will learn about the history and current situation of Hebron city and explore what Palestine has to offer.
Let us know your interest in volunteering when applications open.
The Important of the Olive Harvest
The olive harvest is an ancient practice for Palestinian families, passed down through the generations. Hebron’s olive trees are some of the oldest in Palestine, dating back to the Roman period. Olive oil is a vital part of Palestinian cuisine, and many families make it for their own consumption and can provide themselves until the next year. The olive tree itself is a symbol of somoud, which means “steadfastness” in Arabic, and is an important part of the Palestinian people's connection to the land.
Each of the ancient trees in Hebron can take days to be picked if the harvest is not carried out with several people. With hundreds of years on their backs, these olive trees have seen the changing times, and thousands have walked through the olive grove and rested in their shadow. The harvest is usually carried out during the months of October and November, before the rainy season and the cold winter. Now this tradition is threatened by the Israeli military occupation.
A Tradition Threatened by Military Occupation
Although this tradition spans hundreds of years, this basic activity has been inhibited by the Israeli occupation. In Hebron, Palestinian families and their ancient olive trees are now surrounded by ideologically extreme Israeli settlers and soldiers who seek to take control of the land. Ever since the Hebron Protocol, the olive grove in Tel Rumeida and the trees in all of H2 has been under Israeli military control.
Palestinian families often need to ask for special permission from the Israeli Civil Administration to carry out the harvest. Many of these permits expire after 30 days, although a normal harvest lasts nearly two months. In addition, Israeli settlers frequently burn the ancient trees or throw stones toward the olive pickers. This is part of an attempt by the Israeli settlement project to pressure Palestinian families out of their homes. Many of the family members are elderly, and each tree can take days to pick if several people are not involved in the harvesting.
Supporting the olive harvest is a way to strengthen Palestinian families' ability to remain in their home by supporting their financial independence, their identity and tradition.
For these reasons, we call upon our international supporters to come join us for our Olive Harvest Campaign 2023. It will run from October 20th to November 10th in Tel Rumeida and in the olive fields close to the Kiryat Arba settlement. To volunteer, please sign up when applications open. If you cannot volunteer, please consider donating to this important cause!