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Tree Planting Protest in Burin

The Olive Tree: symbol of Palestine

Olive trees have long been an economic staple of Palestine, constituting the traditional livelihood of the Palestinians. Many products such as olives, olive oil, olive wood, and olive-based soap are extracted from the olive trees. But the olive tree is far more than an economic resource for Palestinians. To Palestinians, the olive tree is sacred and symbolically represents Palestine. The older trees, their gnarled, ancient trunks attesting to a life span of 800 to 1,000 years, have been passed from one generation to another, over hundreds of years.

Since 2000, however, over half a million olive trees and thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed by the Israeli Occupation Forces to clear land for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, for construction of roads that only settlers can use, and for the building of the apartheid Wall that has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. In addition, thousands of olive trees have been destroyed -- burned, poisoned, chain-sawed -- by militant Israeli settlers in an attempt to drive the Palestinian farmers from their land. The settlers even uproot ancient olive trees and replant them in their settlements.

Some of the 95 trees destroyed in Burin by settlers last month.

Thus the planting of olive trees -- the universal symbol of peace -- is a meaningful form of peaceful protest against the violence perpetrated against the Palestinians. Such plantings are also testament to the steadfast persistence of Palestinians and their undying love for their land.

Young saplings are planted on threatened Palestinian land near the settlements; given to farmers whose trees have been destroyed by the Israeli Occupation Army and/or settlers, and to farmers who face economic privation due to the Israeli Occupation. Internationals and Israeli peace groups join in the effort which fosters international awareness of the challenges facing Palestinian farmers and the deteriorating economic situation they face.

Kick-off of the "10,000 Trees for Nablus" Campaign in Burin

On Thursday, October 29th, MPTers joined international activists in accompanying the farmers and villagers of Burin to the planting of approximately 50 olive trees as part of the “10,000 Trees for Nablus” campaign. Burin was selected as one of the communities to participate in the program as it has endured numerous Israeli Army and settler attacks this year; just in the last two months the village endured an arson attack, settler harassment, and the cutting of 97 trees by settlers with chainsaws.

The morning of the tree planting the “winter rain” began, prompting concerns that the tree planting would have to be postponed, the rain and winds were so intense. However, by the appointed noon hour, the rain had stopped. The drought-stricken land was so thirsty, that it had rained was not readily apparent.

Burin schoolgirls join in the walk to the field for the planting.

There was a significant outpouring of villagers, including about 30 students from the Burin Girls School in their green and white striped tunics, and a comparable number from the Burin Boys School, the boys sporting their blue shirts. Eighteen members of the Civil Campaign for the Protection of Palestinian People, a French solidarity organization, participated in the effort. Although a total of 200 trees were slated for Burin for this first planting, only 48 were planted that day, and not on threatened lands near the illegal settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha so that the children could participate.

Carefully unwrapping an olive tree.

Students planting an olive sapling. Teachers from the Burin Girls School in the background.

The boys take their turn at planting an olive tree.

Similar tree plantings are scheduled to occur every two weeks, weather permitting, in a dozen villages around Nablus, including the communities of Qusin and Asira Al Qibliya where MPTers have provided accompaniment for the olive harvest, in addition to Burin. Funding for the 10,000 trees is spearheaded by Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas (FONSA), a charitable trust created by the people of Dundee, Scotland, to help the Palestinians of Nablus and surrounding areas who are suffering under the Israeli Occupation (http://www.fonsa.org.uk/). Dundee has been “twinned” with Nablus for almost 30 years through the Nablus-Dundee Twinning Association. FONSA works in cooperation with the Palestinian Al-Hayat Center for Development of the Civil Community.

Villagers and internationalists celebrate a successful planting, giving hope to the future of Palestinian children.


Anonymous said...

Palestine keep using the camera it will help better than violence..

Mike said...

Thanks for such a great report. Olives for peace!

Kanchana Rathnayake said...

Nice blog