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ISM launch of the 2008 Olive Harvest Campaign

ISM launch of the 2008 Olive Harvest Campaign in the besieged Gaza

Many farmers in the Gaza Strip are being denied access to their land
by Israeli occupation forces. An arbitrary 'buffer zone' is being
imposed hundreds of metres deep long the Green Line. Agricultural land
has been destroyed in these areas and massive numbers of olive and
fruit trees have been bulldozed, devastating the livelihoods of entire
farming communities. According to the PCHR, approximately 31.503
dunums/31.5 million square metres of land in the Gaza Strip, most of
it agricultural, has been razed by the Israelis. This represents at
least 10% of the total arable land base of the Gaza Strip. This
statistic was published in 2005 but much more destruction has been
carried out since. The Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights quoted
31,845,815 square metres of agricultural land levelled by the end of
2007. This does not include lands confiscated more than once; the area
confiscated being nearly 10 million square metres.

Gazan farmers have also been impacted by the illegal Israeli siege of
the Gaza Strip. Fuel shortages have hampered their ability to power
their irrigation systems and closures have made crop exports
impossible. As food supplies are severely restricted, it is more
urgent than ever for Gaza to be as self-sufficient as possible in food
production. The Israeli attacks on farmers and their property are yet
a further escalation of the collective punishment suffered by the
population of Gaza on a daily basis under this siege. They are akin to
the atrocities endured by Gazan fishermen as they struggle to access
local food sources in the face of arrests, injuries and even killings.
The plight of these farmers and fishermen goes unnoticed by the
international community, despite blatant violations of the current
ceasefire, which would make headline news if the tables were turned.

ISM Gaza is pleased to be participating in the 2008 Olive Harvest
Campaign. We will be accompanying farmers working along the Green Line
'buffer zone' to harvest their olives. We have established
relationships with farmers in Abassan Al-Kabeera in southern Gaza and
are liaising with them regarding their olive harvest. In the meantime,
a newly formed group in Beit Hanoun, The Local Initiative, established
contact with us to join them and others to harvest olives in the
'buffer zone' in their area. The olive harvest in the Gaza Strip has
just begun and will continue for a couple more weeks. We look forward
to joining farmers in various areas of the Gaza Strip as they harvest
their olives and show Israeli Occupation Force soldiers that they will
continue to work their land.


© Scoop Media

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