“they uproot a tree…we plant ten”

Palestinian women prepare the ground for the olive saplings next to Qurtuba School.

On 3 February, community members planted 90 olive trees next to the Qurtuba School in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of Al-Khalil (Hebron), located right next to illegal Israeli settlements. The Palestinian Association for Voluntary Work planned the action, also involving the Hebron Defense Committee, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, the Ibrahimi Khalil Society and Administration of Youth. Students from at least two universities were there, including the Al-Quds Open University in Hebron and the American School of Palestine in Ramallah. T-shirts were emblazoned with the the slogan for the action, “they uproot a tree… we plant ten”. The action lasted from 11:00 to 12:30.

This plot of land formerly belonged to a local family, who transferred it to the school after settlers uprooted the trees that used to grow there, 6 years ago and 3 years ago. Local residents are aware that settlers will attempt to undo the work of the planting. However, the action demonstrates the determination of the community to remain in their homes and neighbourhood. A community leader said, ‘We are staying here, and the settlers must move.’

Tel Rumeida is home to olive trees which are thousands of years old. It takes years of nurturing and cultivation for the trees to bear fruit. Settlement expansion in Tel Rumeida attacks both Palestinians and these thousands year old trees.

An action is planned in a couple weeks to plant another 90 trees in another area of Tel Rumeida on more land threatened by illegal settlements.