This year, MECA is working with partners in Palestine to plant 3,500 olive trees and 500 grape vines in dozensof villages throughout the West Bank during Palestinian planting season from January through March 2023.We are grateful to the 161 individuals and groups who already made contributions on Giving Tuesday and since then to plant trees in Palestine.
For this report, we've interviewed people at our Palestinian partner organization Stop the Wall Campaign. Israeli military and settler violence reached new and terrifying levels in 2022.
The impact was devastating and continues into the newyear. The olive harvest, which begins in October, is usually a time for social gatherings, unity, and reconnecting with nature and land. It has now turned into the most violent season of the year, targeting Palestinians, as well as their lands and trees. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, approximately 7,000 olive trees were uprooted, poisoned,burnt, had chemicals sprayed on them, or were cut down. In addition, there were 200 physical attacks on the farm-ers themselves. The highest number of olive trees to have been uprooted was in Nablus with 1,600 trees destroyed.
The violent act of uprooting trees is a mirror of the violent act of uprooting people from their homes— whether by home demolitions, detentions of family members, or the cold-blooded killings by Israeli soldiers or settlers. The roots of our olive trees are the roots of the people and their land. MECA’s “Plant a Tree” initiative conducted with our partners the Stop the Wall Coalition and Palestinian Farmers Union is beyond vital.
A representative from the Palestinian Farmer’s Union explained the importance of different groups coming together to plant trees, saying “The participation of farmers, youth groups, friends from various organizations and others increases belief in the justice of our cause and makes us feel that we are not working alone against the Israeli Occupation.”
In December and January, we were able to plant 1,800 trees in different locations in the occupied West Bank, including Tulkarem, Nablus, Salfit, Ramallah, and Jenin. These efforts will continue.