The Stop the Wall Campaign, the Palestinian Farmers Union, the Land Defense Coalition and Palestinian activists from inside the Green Line organized last Friday a volunteer activity to plant 300 olive trees in the area of Makhrour, in the town of Beit Jala (Bethlehem district). The event brought together some 400 people of the town, volunteers and participants from different provinces of the West Bank, a member of the Legislative Council, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, and the mayor of Beit Jala, Dr. Nael Anton Salman.
The area of Makhrour is located near the settler-only apartheid road, "Route 60," as an extension of the town of Beit Jala. The agricultural land constitutes a basic source of livelihood for the people there. However, their land is threatened with confiscation by the Israeli army. The olive trees have been donated by the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature and have been planted in a territory belonging to more than 25 families in the town.At the end of an olive tree planting, the participants presented Palestinian made products underlining the importance of consumption and production of national goods to enhance the Arab identity and resistance and the conscience of belonging to the land. The olive tree and the products made of olives have a particularly symbolic value in this. The insistence on the importance of national products is at the same time an affirmation of the rejection of the occupation products and the call for boycott of Israel.
The activity was organized to coincide with the Christian holidays taking place in Bethlehem under global attention which, sadly once again refused to acknowledge that in the same place the Israeli occupation continues to confiscate land, expand settlements and build its apartheid wall ghettoizing Bethlehem.
The coordinator of the Popular Committee of the Stop the Wall Campaign in Bethlehem Mazen Azzeh, said that “this event is to enhance the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the land threatened with confiscation by the Israeli army and settlers”. This added to Stop the Wall's position that the tree planting initiative “aims to promote the values of volunteerism and to enhance the the understanding that steadfastness is a national duty for each and every Palestinian home and institution. This event is part of a series of activities carried out by the Stop the Wall Campaign in different locations in order to challenge the Israeli policies of land confiscation and settlement expansion.”