+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

WATCH: Israelis lend a hand in the West Bank olive harvest

Since the start of this year’s olive harvest, Israeli activists have been consistently responding to requests for additional hands from Palestinian farmers from the West Bank. In some of the orchards, the harvest takes place without incident. In others, friction with the army is constant. Instead of protecting the farmers, in accordance with a High Court order to do so, the army often fires tear gas on farmers and orders them out of their fields. Watch for more information on the most challenging harvest season yet, thanks to settler vandalism and army obstruction.

Israel Social TV is an independent media NGO working to promote social change, human rights, social justice and equality, and to mobilize its viewers towards activism.

The war on the Palestinian olive harvest

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. nice
      thank you

      Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      The truth is that these trees are rather worthless.

      These olive trees yield about 3-4 kilograms of olives which gives less that 1 liter of olive oil per tree.

      Figure is taken from http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/fair-trade-organizations-protest-israeli-orders-uproot-1400-olive-trees

      5000 kg divided by 1400 trees is 3.6 kg from tree.

      1 kg. of olives is sold for about $1, depending on quality etc.

      Minimal wages in WB is $377 per month.

      It takes about 2 man/hours to harvest a tree (including primary sorting etc.)

      450 olive trees would produce $500 worth crops per year MAX.

      900 man/hours – to harvest these crops cost min – TWO MONTHS – would cost $754

      254 US dollars more than these crops could possibly produce.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Maybe if Israel actually allowed the farmers to access their own fields to care for the trees properly, they’d produce a better crop.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Maybe not.

          This problem is not specific to Israel – small farmers are not able to compete with corporations with top-notch agricultural technologies.


          26 kg. per tree is about 5 liters of oil.

          Palestinians currently produce 0.5 – 3.4 liters per tree, depending on year.


          To actually doubling production and achieving steady mean 3.4 l/tree (which is almost 4 times more than the EI anticipation) would mean to to “allow farmers to access their own fields” but to build a new and efficient irrigation system and apply modern growing technologies.

          Basically what activists should be doing is pushing towards nation-wide project of implementing new irrigation technologies.

          However what people are interested in is kicking Israel, not making positive changes.

          Stripped car body in water cistern from neighbor topic is exactly the same phenomena.

          Reply to Comment
          • Aristeides’ point, Trespasser, is that, by denying access to their trees for upkeep, you are reducing their livelihood value to their owners; it is not for the IDF to perform market elimination–the market does that quite well itself, thank you.

            Trespasser, you are well named.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            With all due respect
            Aristeides has no point.

            There are 10 000 000 (ten millions) of olive trees in Palestine, all of which produce equally poor.

            Making a lot of noise about 450 uprooted trees instead of taking proper care of 10 000 000 is the preferred course of action as usual, which is why Palestine won’t ever be prospering. Not that anyone cares.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Palestine will never prosper because Israeli policy is to ensure it, to drive the people off the land.

            Talking about advanced agronomical practices is only excess cruelty, as Israel would certainly make any such improvements a priority for destruction.

            In the meantime, apologists sit back and blame the victims.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            One small yet very symptomatic example:
            There is an old car body, stripped of engine and everything else, which is slowly rusting inside water cistern somewhere near Susya.

            Despite Palestinian claims that the car is contaminating water no-one ever tried to remove it, albeit it would only take efforts of just 10 man to lift it by raw physical strength.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Or so trespasser imagines, not actually being in possession of the facts in the case.

            Although trespasser is in general denial of the facts when they cast a shadow of guilt on Israel.

            He drags out this example repeatedly to prove some point that he imagines, but in fact to deny that the car was dumped there by Israeli criminals to contaminate the Palestinians’ water supply.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Whoever dumped the car is irrelevant at the point, anyway you have no proof that Israelis have done it.

            What is relevant is fact that nothing was done to remove it.

            You’ll have hard time coming up with a plausible excuse for that.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            If nothing was done to remove the rusting chassis it means that it could not be removed from the bottom of a well by 10 men. No doubt attempts will be made to take it out piecemeal, but it’ll take awhile, whereas an Israeli mechanical lifter aided by the force of gravity dropped it where it lies in a couple of seconds. Thus, for the victim, is time that could be spent on a livelihood wasted on obstacles.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser


            Yet more nonsense again. Why am I not surprised?

            If nothing was done to remove the rusting chassis it means that nothing was done, nothing else.

            Now you’ve made up a power lifter. In Hebron hills. Right.

            Well, if Israelis were able to get power lifter there, than Palestinians would be too as well. Even if they do not have access to such vehicles (although they do) I’m certain that it’s really not a big deal of Israeli left to hire such lifter for a few hours. That would be such a great report for the blog by the way…

            Yet nothing was done. Which is precisely why Palestine will never prosper.

            Reply to Comment
          • rauna

            trespasser, you have no proof that no effort has been made to remove the rusting chassis but the blame fall squarely on the palestinians.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Tim

      Strange that the figures for Palestinians being found guilty by IDF courts is 99.7% yet those who commit crimes against the Palestinians do so with impunity…

      Reply to Comment
    4. Piotr Berman

      Tressapsser suggests that the savages cultivate worthless trees, unlike the civilized man. In a struggle between the savage (3 kg per tree) and the civilized man (25 kg per tree) side with the civilization. Support Israel.

      What is the secret of civilization? From the link graciously provided by Tresspasser: “Under such schemes optimizing the water regime is essential for best tree growth and oil production while ensuring efficient water use by the crop. Irrigation affects the olive yield, …”

      There is nothing particularly “efficient” in efficient agriculture if it is based on huge increase of heavily subsided inputs which devastate other parts of the environment. Water is the limiting factor in the region. Israel is using unsustainable amount of water, stealing from the neighboring countries, from Palestinians and from nature: Dead Sea is drying out. The described Israeli farm is in a region with relatively high precipitation and yet additionally irrigated, and surprise! has a higher yield then a farm from a drier region where farmers are forbidden by the military to use any irrigation.

      Not only that, but Palestinian farmers are often forbidden access to their land that may be needed to make useful improvements and extracting additional uses or crops from the land (for example, in south France and Spain farmers obtain truffles from olive groves).

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        “There is nothing particularly “efficient” in efficient agriculture if it is based on huge increase of heavily subsided inputs which devastate other parts of the environment.”
        Nonsense. You did not read provided articles carefully enough. Too typical of “progressive leftist” tho.

        ” Israel is using unsustainable amount of water, stealing from the neighboring countries, from Palestinians and from nature: Dead Sea is drying out.”
        Lie, just lie.
        Yeah, nice headline.

        ” The described Israeli farm is in a region with relatively high precipitation”

        “where farmers are forbidden by the military to use any irrigation.”

        “Not only that, but Palestinian farmers are often forbidden access to their land that may be needed to make useful improvements and extracting additional uses or crops from the land (for example, in south France and Spain farmers obtain truffles from olive groves).”
        Lies and nonsense.

        10 000 000 trees grow unobstructed by IDF.
        Truffles won’t grow in this soil.
        Useful improvements = modern irrigation system, which is nation-wide project.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          For the past five decades of Israeli occupation, water management in the West Bank and Gaza has been constrained by several political, technical and economic factors. Management of public resources, including water, has been completely within Israeli hands; decisions were made with little or no regard for Palestinian interests and needs. Even before the occupation, civic regulations were frequently over-ruled by military orders that confiscated water sources and banned public works to improve water and sanitation services to Palestinian communities. Israel’s strict restrictions on the quantity of water supplied to Palestinians and the lack of investments in the infrastructures (physical water losses reach 50% in some areas), have created a distrustful, antagonistic relationship between the public and the authorities Furthermore, it has distorted public perception of management and protection of public goods and properties. Getting involved in public decision making became increasingly controversial as it was seen as implicit acceptance of the Israeli occupation.

          This has adversely affected the performance of the water sector and has resulted in a large gap between the services provided and those demanded. It has also created a fragmented and uncoordinated water supply management structure. The main characteristic of this is a top down approach with little or no room for public participation. It has also kept water use levels in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) at their lowest minimum with a decreasing mode, without considering the growth and development needs of the growing population. Despite all of that, there were few successful public water management models, which was a de facto operating bodies prior to the occupation. They managed to continue their operation with relative success under such harsh conditions.

          However, the shift from the era of full occupation by the Israelis to an era of partial occupation during the Oslo process in the early 90s, has resulted in further complication and confusion for the public. On the one hand, the values about managing public goods and properties which people internalised as a result of a long-term occupation were not easily discarded. On the other hand, Israel remained in full control of the process of water management. Despite acknowledging the Palestinian Water Rights, Israel never agreed to quantify such rights. Nor did Israel agree to develop an independent mechanism for the Palestinians to manage their own water resources.”

          Read the rest here: http://www.tni.org/archives/act/18926

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            The rest is of little interest.

            “Israel’s strict restrictions on the quantity of water supplied to Palestinians and the lack of investments in the infrastructures (physical water losses reach 50% in some areas)”

            So Palestinians are wasting about 50% of what is given and instead of improving infrastructure are asking for more.

            Typical approach – maintain the problem to blame the occupant. Exactly as in rusty car case.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Piotr Berman

      Dead Sea drying out: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090304091514.htm

      The level is dropping about 2 ft each year. You can simply compare the reported level of the surface from various years. This is by definition not sustainable,

      Is Israel stealing water? Number one, it makes most of the water withdrawal from Jordan without any international agreement. Number two, it is outright stealing from the aquifiers in occupied West Bank.

      Are Palestinians allowed to use water for irrigation? Yes and no. Since 1970, Israel diverted water from conquered aquifiers for its use while freezing the amount of water available to Palestinians. http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=716 The increase in the irrigation in Israel correlates with the water deficit of Dead Sea watershed.

      The link to the Israeli “progressive farm” contains info on the precipitation level there, more than 500 mm/year, which is much higher than Hebron area etc. Palestinians who do have access to irrigation water use it mostly for vegetables which I assume gives most dollars per unit of water. Israeli farms use heavily subsidized water and can use them for “Biblically correct” crops regardless of cash efficiency.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Your ignorance is really boring.
        Why won’t you make at least some research before uttering nonsense?



        As of the Dead Sea – you are probably are not even aware that Arab Potash factories on the Dead Sea produce more potash and other minerals than Israeli factories and due to lower technologies they have to evaporate more water to get the same amount of minerals.


        Basically you are only concerned by Israel’s contribution while whatever others are doing is just fine, even if they have no international agreements as well.
        Why is that so?
        You are not that Jewish Rabbi, are you?

        Reply to Comment
    6. Let’s keep to the question at hand. These Palestinians are being obstructed in their livelihood for no good cause. This is a denial of their labor. They may be silly in trying to harvest, but that is not for the State to say. If they are being silly, they will vanish of their own accord later; that is how the market works.

      What Trespasser is doing is aggregating events unrelated to the present case, claiming that this absolves the IDF here. It does not. Free labor is about the labor before you, nothing else. If the labor offers no direct harm to others, on their own land, it must be allowed. If you think in terms of aggregate entities, “Jewish Nation” vs “Other Race,” then the harm being done here is defined into oblivion. And this is exactly why right national Torah ideology is dangerous.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser


        These plantations have no economic value and have no other purpose than diverting attention from whatever good has been done.

        Again – there are 10 000 000 trees which demand new irrigation system which would allow much efficient use of current water supply, however there is nearly zero effort done.
        The only example I know is joint Israeli-Palestinian company which produces and bottles olive oil.
        No “progressives” were spotted on site – pure Zionism.

        Reply to Comment
        • It’s their land, their trees, their free labor. Let them make failures of themselves; you do not do it for them.

          And harvesting their trees NOW has absolutely no effect on the 10,000,000 trees you mention. Your logic is spurious on its own terms.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser


            When someone would finally explain to me on what basis Arab invaders got sole ownership of the land I’ll burn my computer and move to Edom desert.

            Harvesting their trees now have absolutely no effect on anything. It’s as unimportant as bull’s tail swing.

            However 10 000 000 still remain unattended.

            My logic is flawless.

            Attention of hundreds of thousands is diverted towards few hundred worthless trees while (supposedly) serious issues, such as irrigation system (or that g-d forsaken car in cistern), are being neglected permanently.

            If by YOUR logic it is normal than… well… I’m sorry. Mostly for Palestinians of course.

            Reply to Comment
          • Everyone is an invader if you go back far enough. You have already said you approve of YHWH’s warrent to kill back in Torah days, so you simply prefer one invasion to others.

            One more time: Free Labor is about an individual’s effort, not that individual’s purported contribution to some group category you use. They own this land under present terms; they have the right of Free Labor to harvest their weak trees, no matter how futile it may or may not be. You want to tell everyone what is best in reality–a common right Israeli move and belief. But freedom, freedom, lets people be wrong. Honor their free labor, that they still try. If your analysis is ultimate right, this labor will vanish of it own accord. As you would not be told what to do, do not tell them. But maybe you want to be told what to do–maybe that is the core difference in thought.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser


            >Everyone is an invader if you go back far enough.

            >You simply prefer one invasion to others.
            Palestinians have as much rights to reconquer Palestine, as Spanish had to take Iberia back, while at the same time Israelis have exactly the same right to hold the land for as long as they could, like Arab invaders in Spain.

            Anything wrong with that?

            >They own this land under present terms;
            And again:
            There are some 10 000 000 trees
            The article says “In some of the orchards” there were problems.
            However SOME problems it is not a problem with the state policies but rather by their implementation in the field.

            In the video at 1:06 show up an officer who allows the harvest to continue and calls off soldiers (who apparently were brought by the settler in a white t-shirt)

            Have you ever noticed him?

            In second case video was stopped when Israeli man was asking MAGAV officer on what basis in the illegal commanders order, which order surely was to be called off.

            You really should be very careful when blaming the State because it not only gives bad guys weapons, it also gives good guys papers, which prove to be even stronger weapons, so to say.

            Dude, everyone on this planet is told to do from the age of about 1 year.
            Parents, older kids, teachers, army commanders, police, lawyers judges and parliament members, spouse, her/his parents, your own children – pretty much everybody tells you what to do.
            You are only free in choosing whether to comply or not.

            Reply to Comment
          • “Palestinians have as much rights to reconquer Palestine, as Spanish had to take Iberia back, while at the same time Israelis have exactly the same right to hold the land for as long as they could, like Arab invaders in Spain.

            “Anything wrong with that?”

            Force does not determine right. The examples are legion. Law is an intellectual battle to control force. Law is a struggle to redefine the perpetual wars for space.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Than by law Palestinians have to stop all resistance attempts.

            Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      “You have already said you approve of YHWH’s warrent to kill back in Torah days”

      Greg, he has also said elsewhere that he is not religious, so there’s no point in looking for logic or sense in his posts. He’s here as an emissary for ideologues of the Lieberman type so explaining what subsistence farming is won’t make sense to him. Telling him how much valuable (agriculturally speaking) time Palestinians who own land in the West Bank have to waste on tackling the bureaucratic hurdles laid in their path to prevent them from accessing the land and making it profitable is useless. The settlements that imprison their land are illegal, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal despite the recent pronouncements of Edmond Levy. Trespasser’s Hasbara bosses will doubtless confect a response to this, but until the whole business is tackled in the international courts:

      “For the purpose of the law of occupation, it is sufficient that the state whose army established effective control over the territory was not itself the rightful sovereign of the place when the conflict broke out. Nowhere in the law of occupation can one find the suggestion that only territory whose title is clear and uncontested can be considered occupied for the purposes of international humanitarian law. Indeed, it would be in complete contravention of the humanitarian purpose of such law to deprive people living under occupation of the protection afforded by the law because of disputes between belligerents regarding sovereignty over the territory concerned.

      The West Bank is under the effective control of Israel. Israel acquired this control through a military campaign and maintains it through military force. Even those who hold that Israel has “a claim to sovereign rights” in the West Bank cannot claim that Israel was the rightful sovereign of the territory when it seized control over it. Accordingly, contrary to what is claimed in the Levy report, it is manifestly clear that the West Bank is occupied by Israel. Indeed, the Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently ruled that the territory of the West Bank is subject to belligerent occupation.

      Furthermore, concerning the settlements in the West Bank, it has to be emphasized that Article 49 (6 ) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies, does not merely prohibit the occupying state from forcefully transferring parts of its population; it also prohibits any action by the occupier which facilitates such transfer.”

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser


        Did you ever read the 1907 convention yourself?


        Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.

        State, State, State.

        I suppose writers of this documents taken for granted that if there is some “independent” territory with no sovereign state than it’s not occupation but rather annexation.

        Surely open to debates in high courts.

        As of article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is merely his own personal opinion that it also prohibits any action by the occupier which facilitates such transfer.
        For instance he fails to define what exactly “population transfer” means.

        In the light of the fact that until 1988 territories in question were not de-jure occupied since there was no occupied State, it all creates rather complicated juridical situation.

        For instance it is not clear whether PLO had right to declare a state while not exercising sovereignty of even 1 sq. cm. of it’s territory.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          “Did you ever read the 1907 convention yourself?”

          One has grown to expect the argument is that it’s complicated, so yours is no surprise. Now that the powers that be have grasped that this is in the hope of stringing it out for another 64 years, maybe they’ll get a move on.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Time won’t change the fact that mentioned convention considers states but not some semi-legal entities.

            Reply to Comment
    8. rsgengland

      I spoke to a Border Policewoman recently , who told me that her unit is spending up to 12 hours a day protecting Palestinian olive pickers .
      Considering the amount of olive picking and the incidence of their reported harrasment ,The Israeli forces seem to be fairly successful in reducing the problem . NOTE ; I did not say they had eradicated it .

      Reply to Comment
      • I hope, suspect your are right in some instances. I do not think that the IDF occupation force acts uniformly everywhere. I also suspect that the closer one is to a settlement, the less unbiased it is, saying things mildly.

        But one cannot rely on the kindness of (some) IDF officers and soldiers. Rights transcend kindness; they stay force in toto under specific conditions. We don’t need to feel good about the IDF; we need the importation of the rule of law.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Palestinians have chosen to be stateless outlaws.

          Why are you protesting that?

          Reply to Comment
    9. Click here to load previous comments

The stories that matter.
The missing context.
All in one weekly email.

Subscribe to +972's newsletter