Olives have for centuries been central to the Palestinian economy, agriculture and cuisine and the olive harvest in October/ November an important part of the year. Under Israeli occupation, Palestinian agriculture – which spreads across the land – has beeen a target for Israeli settlers as they try to take more land. Palestinian farmers have often come under attack as they move across their land as a way to dissuade them from using the land. The olive trees themselves have been attacked in numerous incidents: burned, chopped, removed, and separated by Israeli military arrangements, settler-only roads and the Israeli Separation Wall from the reach of their landowners.
This is a human-rights violation against the Palestinians on many levels – against their right to move within their own country, against their personal security, a threat to dispossess them of their land and a threat against the Palestinian economy. It is important to realise that though this is experienced as a threat to the individuals confronted with aggressive settlers, this is not about individual behaviour. The aggressive, armed settlers are protected by the Israeli military and it is the Israeli state that is building the roads, the Walls and issuing land-expropriation orders on behalf of the settlers.