Gaza and the West Bank and have been under occupation since 1967, and in that time over 2.5 million olive trees have been uprooted and destroyed. Cutting down olive trees on Palestinian soil is a brutal assault on the Palestinian people’s culture and livelihoods, a symbolic destruction of Palestine itself.
Olive trees are a universal symbol of peace. These evergreens, with their broad leaves and glossy fruit, are resilient trees, growing strong in poor soil and remaining steadfast through drought. It should come as no surprise, that the resilience and endurance of these plants can be found in the very people that grow them. Palestinians share a rich history with the olive tree, dating back 4,000 years; both have grown with their country and overcome adversity.
Palestine has been faced with years of conflict, blockades, and political turmoil and through it all, thousands of people have suffered and the strong, beautiful olive trees that have been standing for hundreds of years have been decimated.
Gaza and the West Bank and have been under occupation since 1967, and in that time over 2.5 million olive trees have been uprooted and destroyed, according to The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem. Cutting down olive trees on Palestinian soil is a brutal assault on the Palestinian people’s culture and livelihoods, a symbolic destruction of Palestine itself.
Settler attacks on Palestinian olive trees and the farmers who cultivate them are just one of the many ways that the Palestinian people are being targeted and oppressed. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated:
The decades-long Palestinian struggle for self-determination, independence and a life of dignity faces numerous obstacles, including: continued military occupation of Palestinian territory; ongoing violence and incitement; continued settlement construction and expansion; deep uncertainties about the peace process; and deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions, particularly in Gaza.”
Penny Appeal’s Love Palestine campaign is working to re-build the Holy Land and send support to Palestinians in need. As part of this humanitarian assistance, Penny Appeal is helping numerous Palestinians regain their livelihoods by planting hundreds of olive tree saplings in Gaza and the West Bank.
Olive trees are a vital source of income for the people of Palestine, with around 100,000 families benefiting from their produce. 45% of all the agricultural land in Gaza and the West Bank is lush with olive trees, whose harvests account for 15% of Palestine’s total agricultural profits. But the olive tree is so much more than a simple plant or an instrument for economic success; the olive tree reflects the will of the Palestinian people.
One of the people we’ve been able to help through our olive tree project is a man named Younis from the Jerusalem District in Palestine. Younis suffers from an arm injury that makes it extremely difficult for him to find work and support his family.
We provided Younis with a sustainable source of income to care for his family by planting 250 olive trees on his property. Once they grow and bear olives, he will be able to make artisan olive oil, just as his ancestors once did, and sell his produce locally.
Neighbours and friends have all come out to help Younis with his new olive trees, because his disability hinders his movement. He plans to repay their kindness by sharing his profits with them once he can bring his goods to market.
Even with his disability, Younis never gave up trying to provide for his family and now he has a way to do so for years to come. Just like their beloved olive trees, Younis and the Palestinian people will continue to grow and persevere, despite their circumstances.
Olive trees are a bountiful and beautiful blessing to the people of Palestine. The fruit they bear provides people all over the world with Sunnah foods and the Prophet Muhammed (saw) himself said: “eat the olive and use it as an ointment as it comes from a blessed tree” (Tirmidhi).
Sow the seeds of peace on November 29th, by planting an olive tree in Palestine for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Your tree will stand as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people, while providing them with a sustainable source of income for generations.
To learn more about the charity Penny Appeal, click here for more information about its work as well as how you can help support Palestine.