ISM Calls on Volunteers for Olive Harvest 2019

25 Aug
9:25 PM

08/25/19 | International Solidarity Movement | Occupied Palestine

At a time of regular settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to join us for the 2019 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.

The olive tree is a national symbol for Palestinians. As thousands of olive trees have been bulldozed, uprooted and burned by Israeli settlers and the military — over half a million olive and fruit trees have been destroyed since September 2000 — harvesting has become more than a source of livelihood; it has become a form of resistance.

Despite efforts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities have remained steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest.

ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives, in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence when working their land. Your presence can make a big difference, with Palestinian communities stating that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.

We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation as practical support which enables many families to pick their olives.

The harvest will begin in early October and run until mid-November. We request a minimum 2 week commitment but we ask that if possible, volunteers could stay as long as they can. Our work is dependent on relationships with the Palestinian communities in which we work, and a long term presence is a massive help towards that end. We kindly ask volunteers to start arriving in the first week of October, so we are prepared when the harvest begins.

In addition to the harvest, there will be opportunities to participate in grass-roots, non-violent resistance in Palestine. ISM activists will receive training, normally held on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the beginning of each month with information on what to expect and how to act in what can be intense situations. Our other actions include: 

The School Year:

Sunday the 25th of August marks the beginning of the school year, and with it increased threats for Palestinian teachers and children. Therefore, in the coming months, it is vital that we have volunteers who are able to walk with the children on school runs, to document and serve as a protective presence against Israeli Occupation Forces and settler harassment, which includes checkpoint delays. It is hoped that the presence of internationals may prevent settler attacks, or at least promote intervention by the soldiers where they otherwise would not.

Beyond the school runs, ISM maintains a constant presence in Hebron (Al-Khalil), where settler harassment and violence is a regular occurrence. Lately, Israeli army violence has escalated for Palestinians living close to the illegal inner-city settlement. Israeli forces have used the Palestinian neighbourhoods for military training, and heavily repress any form of resistance, responding with collective punishment as they lob dozens of teargas canisters and stun grenades onto Al-Khalil’s population. Through documentation and non-violent resistance, ISM attempts to relieve some of the pressure placed on Al-Khalil’s residents.

Soldier standing on another soldier taking pictures into a school

Israeli soldiers take pictures inside a school playground in Khalil

Protective presence at protests and police raids:

In addition to these activities, we participate in the weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum, and others where our presence is requested and protesters face excessive force by the IOF. Recently the Jerusalem police have been targeting the East Jerusalem town of Issawiya, invading the area every night and arresting children as young as 5. Evening patrols are needed by internationals to document these human rights abuses and have a mediating effect on the notoriously brutal units that operate in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Experiencing the situation for yourself is vital to fully understand, and ultimately convey, the reality of life in Palestine to your home communities and to re-frame the debate in a way that will expose Israel’s apartheid policies; creeping ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem as well as collective punishment and genocidal practices in Gaza.

Police make arbitrary car checks outside the Palestinian neighbourhood of Issawiya

How to apply:

Please send an email to ismtraining@riseup.net outlining what dates you are able to come, any experience you have with this type of work and why you want to volunteer in Palestine.

Other options to help:

Donate — for those who cannot make it on this period and want to help, you can donate or help in fundraising money which will be used to fund ISM’s ongoing campaigns.

In Solidarity,

ISM Palestine

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