Stolen Prosperity
By MIFTAH
October 25, 2004

Prosperity is a term that retrieves its full meaning whenever October sets its sail in Palestineís fertile lands. October happens to be the holy month of the olive harvest.

Olive harvest has become an inevitable part of our lives, every year thousands of men, women and children pack their will along with their lunches, mint and tea into the break of dawn with the same enthusiasm and excitement, as if they are on their way to a new beginning.

Hundreds of stories about our history and culture have been embroidered by the same hands that picked up the olives from the highest branches of the trees and the grips of pebbles. Palestinians take pride in their harvest that they managed to cultivate even through the darkest years of occupation.

Despite the farmerís immeasurable bravery, Israeli occupation seems to invent new ways every year to steal the prosperity of this season, a season that thousands of households depend on to get through their years, especially in small communities and villages spread across West Bank and Gaza. The total area of land planted with olive trees in the West bank is approximately 750.000 Dunums holding more or less 12 million olive trees.

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation, olive trees have been extensively targeted whether by newly built settlements or their bypass roads. Today, the owners of 15,000 dunums of olive groves look over their lands which were rendered by security belts that encircle those same illegal Israeli settlements.

The new greedy monster is the Separation Wall, which will detach 280,000 Palestinians living in 126 towns and villages from their lands and olive trees, the 720 KM long Wall will slash out 18% of the West Bank; leaving 2.132.500 olive trees isolated.

Farmers now need special permits to get to their lands in the harvest season, and most of them are never allowed, resulting in an incomprehensible economical loss, the 240,000 olive trees eliminated by the Wall and its buffer zone were estimated to have produced a value of $11.5 million per year.

Everyday Palestinians over come all those difficulties in an attempt to dig out a more prosperous future, they wake up with remnants of hope and fight their way through checkpoints and bulldozers, but how much longer can this audacity last?

Peace that is being widely searched and deeply concerned about, does not simply prevail by written and signed agreements, it has to be nurtured and harvested like those countless olive trees that Palestinians watered with their sweat and blood and fought for through so many years.

When Israeli government begins to understand and appreciate the simple desires of Palestinian people they will be able to cross disagreements and leap to a more solid and valid peace.

Maybe next October Palestinians will be able to reach their lands without putting their lives in danger, without weeping silently over their ancient uprooted trees and without having to look across a separation Wall to trace their lost lands and memories.

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