Friday, October 30, 2009

'Because THEY are here," or The Olive Press-ure: keeping the farmers off-balance in the busy season

Ecumenical accompanier Elice Higginbotham writes: 'Because THEY are here," or The Olive Press-ure: keeping the farmers off-balance in the busy season

Elice has spent three months in Jayyous in the West Bank as an accompanier in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) - check it out at this link:

Here is the opening portion of Elice's most recent blog post. Find it at

Olive cultivation is as old as history itself in this part of the world, well-known in biblical times and before. The agricultural lands of the West Bank, as they are in the late fall of every year, are consumed with olive-harvesting these days. Although it has been a dry year and this harvest is not expected to be good, it is nonetheless one of the more important income-producing times for the olive-growers of Jayyous and other agricultural towns and villages, and every family has kicked into full-bore harvest mode.

If a farmer with a permit to access lands behind the Separation Barrier can afford it, this is the time of year he will hire extra hands and seek permits for them many weeks in advance. Additional family members who are eligible make every effort to get a permit in this season; larger numbers of women are seen crossing through the gates. Carts, wagons, trucks carry extra water and food for the pickers. Schoolchildren spend their weekends in the fields with their parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The number of people seeking to pass through the agricultural gates may double during these weeks.

It seems the worst possible season in which to make life unnecessarily difficult for a farmer. So our EA team was shocked and annoyed to discover that our South Agricultural Gate had been closed – “permanently,” according to the Humanitarian Hotline – about a week before the start of the harvest.

Read the full post at Elice in Palestine:

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