The land near the village of Beit Oula, north of Hebron, is a hot-bed for Israeli settler attacks and land confiscations. Not long ago, the Israeli government issued permits to take more than 1,500 dunams of agricultural land from the area, making the majority of those lands fully isolated behind the wall on the Israeli side.
To combat this and assert Palestinian rights to their own land, OneVoice Palestine (OVP) and 150 youth activists and community members made a powerful statement on November 15, planting 200 olive trees to protest the confiscation and expansion of settlements.
Due to security concerns, OVP staff discussed canceling the event, but decided to carry on with the activity to emphasize the importance of non-violent activism and promote popular peaceful resistance among young Palestinians. Safety was paramount during the activity.
“Nothing can stop us from dreaming of establishing our state on the 1967 borders,” said Fayez. “We will continue the struggle to achieve our dream of self-determination.”
Samer Makhlouf, Executive Director of OVP, added that the initiative comes several days after the passing of the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat.
“The declaration of independence represents a quantum leap in the struggle of Palestinians against the occupation and has put Palestine on the world’s map,” said Makhlouf. “It emphasizes our legitimate rights of liberation, dignity, and self-determination. This activity is a clear message from the Palestinian youth that the occupation must not remain cheap and Israel must pay the price of freedom as our people continue the legitimate struggle to achieve the dream of an independent Palestinian state.”
For many young volunteers, the initiative made a huge impact. OVP’s youth leader Ahmad from Halhoul village was very excited to be part of a community that supports non-violent activism.
“I am glad I showed up today,” said Ahmad, “because being here with all these people from different religions and backgrounds shows that we are on the right track toward ending the occupation.”
The activity also brought the local farming community closer with OVP’s activists. Youth leaders and staff members shared stories with the farmers about the land and the harvest season. The farmers were grateful for our help. They thanked us and wished we will visit more often, and OVP promised it will.
It was clear that this experience will remain in the hearts of our youth leaders for days to come. While the small group of volunteers from Hebron who, despite their concerns, marched with OVP that day, the truth remains: OVP faces its biggest challenge to promote non-violent activism since the recent Israeli war in Gaza. What lies ahead will take courage, determination, and just the right amount of hope.