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Olive Harvest as seen through our eyes this season; part III: Jit

We parked the car at the top of this desolate looking valley and began to walk down. It felt like we were walking into a lifeless waste zone.

If you read our blogs about the demonstrations at Kafr Qaddum, you may recall that Jit is the village at the other end of the short closed road. MPT has a history of picking in Jit where there have been numerous problems with settlers. Villagers picked just south of Jit recently at a spot very near the back side of this small army camp. Israeli activists were present to support them at the tenuous location. The army was apparently uncomfortable with the situation. The story we heard was “the soldiers came out and told the Palestinian to leave the areas nearest the army camp. Only the Israelis were allowed to pick in those areas.” The Israelis could not return for day two so the MPT was asked to come.

We arrived to find trees in desperate need of plowing and pruning. The farmer said “We have 167 trees in this area. Our production of olives has decreased by 90% in the last ten years.” He went on to share that they only get one or two days per year to access this area so do not have time to care for the trees. “Tree are like are children.” We are often told. “If you do not care for them, they do not grow properly.” The farmer then said, “We picked 100 trees yesterday so only need to pick 67 today.” If you have never picked olives, then such numbers may hold little meaning for you. But they struck terror in our hearts. 67 trees in one day! We often do only 20 or 30 trees in a hard long day. But it soon became apparent that these trees were in sad shape. Many were done within minutes. In fact it was a quick and easy process. We finished by early afternoon.

The “farmer” has a Master Degree and teaches High School science. He is about 35 with a family and would like to work on his PhD. Many of the people we work with are very highly educated, articulate, and knowledgeable individuals.

Burned olives trees near the edge of the valley.

An MPTer picks very near a military camp.

We found this flare in the olive grove. It appears to be the type that would be fired up in the air to light up an area at night.

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