Farmers in Palestine’s West Bank have saved their heritage wheat harvest from a fire started in the fields during clashes between protestors and the Israeli army.
Fairtrade organisation Canaan Palestine, which grows heritage wheat varieties in fields around the village of Jalameh in the West Bank, said farmers raced to contain the blaze and managed to continue to harvest during the clashes.
In a Facebook post, the group said: “Thankfully we ploughed around the fire and have contained it thus far. We continue to harvest in the middle of ongoing clashes.”
Social enterprise Zaytoun, which imports Fairtrade Palestinian food, said it had received reports of Israeli settlers setting fire to olive trees belonging to seven farmers in Burin, near Nablus.
In the same village, settlers uprooted 3,000 tomato plants from a polytunnel belonging to farmer Raed Issa and that were due for harvest this week in time for Eid celebrations, Zaytoun said.
"We have media reports from the Nablus villages of Burin and Madama, with whom we have long held ties, of the killing of a child and first-hand accounts of the destruction of crops and trees," said Zaytoun founder, Cathi Pawson. "We are also hearing of attacks on communities around Jenin, from where we source our produce."
Almost two weeks of airstrikes between Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza came to an end today (21 May) with a ceasefire brokered by Egypt.
Tensions have been rising in the West Bank after forced eviction orders were handed to Palestinian residents in Jerusalem, and Israeli airstrikes into the coastal territory of Gaza killed over 200 people including children, and wounded over 2,000. Israel has reported 12 dead after rockets were launched from Gaza, according to news outlet Al Jazeera, whose building in Gaza City has been blown up.
Pawson said: “Our suppliers and friends in Palestine are telling us they don’t feel safe to travel between towns in their own country, because of the risk of attack by armed settlers, who receive full army protection.
“These are by no means isolated attacks. They are part of an ongoing pattern of violence, intimidation and land theft both in this region and across Palestine,” she added.
Charity The Olive Harvest Trust is calling for donations to help rebuild community solar panels that have been destroyed and a school growing project, as well as asking people to email their MPs and share social media posts to raise awareness.