To save the olives
The task was clear: to save the fruit before it is too late.
The olive harvest season is nearing its end, but in several places the fruit is still on the trees. That is especially true in the "seam area" between the Green Line border and the "separation fence": the owners of the plantations and their families, who live on the other side of the fence, cannot reach their trees without special permits, and in most of the cases these permits are issued only to the owner and his wife, without helpers and donkeys. That does not enable them to pick the olives in time, and they remain on the trees and rot.
Last Saturday, Gush Shalom assumed the responsibility for organizing the work on that day. Almost a hundred volunteers reported for work at three different sites, north and south of Qalqiliya.
The task was carried out under the auspices of the "Olive Harvest Coalition", which had been active throughout this season - as in previous ones - with different organizations rotating between them the responsibility for organizing and financing each action.
The olive trees of Mahsal - a village so small that it is not even marked on the map - are very close to the Oranit settlement - a community that started in Israel proper but crept in the course of time beyond the Green Line, and thus became a settlement. Only a few dozen meters separate the first line of houses and the olive trees, but the settlers did not disturb the work.
The volunteers, together with the owner, his wife and son, dispersed between the trees and picked the olives, equipped with ladders, long sticks, small rakes and plastic sheets. They started work in the wadi and slowly worked their way to the top of the rocky hill. The work went on for about seven hours at a vigorous pace, with an intermission of only a quarter of an hour that allowed the workers to rest a little, eat their sandwiches and sip the sweet tea that the hosts had prepared on a little fire in the field.
At the end of the day, sign of fatigue could be detected, but also satisfaction and pleasure at the sight of the growing heaps of black olives on the green plastic sheets and in the heavy sacks.