Broken olive branches
Since the start of the recent conflict in the Middle East 200,000 olive and fruit trees have been uprooted by the Israeli Defence Force and Israeli settlers. This destruction of Palestinian orchards and olive groves is scarring the ancient landscape forever and depriving thousands of Palestinian families of their livelihood.
During the conflict unemployment has soared as the borders have been closed with Israel preventing Palestinian labourers from getting to work. The current unemployment rate in Gaza is estimated to be around 50 per cent. Many Palestinians are unable to generate adequate income to look after their families. For farmers whose land has been destroyed the outlook is very bleak.
Geneva-based agency The Welfare Association is working with two local partner organizations, the Palestine Agricultural Relief Committees and the Federation of Agricultural Work Committees to provide seedlings to replant olive and fruit trees in the worst-affected Nablus and Gaza Strip areas. Reforestation work is also going on in the Tulkarm, Jenin, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron areas.