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Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
By Claire Gilbert
July 24th, 2014
On the way to a camping trip on Cape Cod last week, my family made a pit stop at a gas station. My partner took our four-year-old to the bathroom and I picked up a copy of the New York Times. I felt the ground shift as I saw the image of a tiny boy lying dead on the beach.
Imagine fishers heading out to sea on a beautiful day, ready for a hard day of work to support their families. They might face challenges—a poor catch, storms, not enough buyers—but ordinarily their job is fairly straightforward. Now imagine these fishers getting shot at—routinely—when they go fishing. Imagine the fishers stripped, searched, detained and their boats confiscated by the navy. This is an everyday reality for fishers in the Gaza Strip who live and work under constant threat of Israeli attack at sea.
This fact sheet highlights the impact of increasing restrictions and violence faced by fishers in Gaza. For example:
Olives and olive oil are fundamental to Palestinian history, economy, subsistence, and culture. Olive trees symbolize Palestinian steadfastness and are deeply valued for their ability to thrive and send down deep roots in land where water is hard to come by. Many olive trees are thousands of years old and yet continue to produce olives. A worldwide symbol of peace, olive trees themselves have come under vicious attack by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
This fact sheet highlights the impact of the occupation, settlements and the Separation Wall on olive trees, olive harvests and Palestinian society, including:
By Jonathan Leaning
May 20th, 2014
The Women’s Empowerment and Food Sovereignty Project in Palestine, sponsored by Grassroots International and implemented with our Palestinian partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, works to bring practical, locally controlled food projects to various communities in the West Bank.
Farmers everywhere need certain things to thrive: Land, water, seeds, and a little help from the weather. But Palestinian farmers face relentless obstacles even to get to their fields, let alone irrigate them.
For almost a decade Grassroots International has supported the work of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in the West Bank. UAWC has been a key ally for Palestinian farmers exerting their right to farm in the face of settler violence, restricted access to farmland, confiscation of olive trees, and destruction of farms. In the videos below, UAWC farmers in two West Bank towns (Wadi Qana and Al Falamyeh) detail the many ways in which the Israeli occupation affect their livelihoods.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories not only takes Palestinian land for Israeli use. The settler-only structures and infrastructure also annex land and cut off Palestinians from each other, curtail their ability to move freely, and make it difficult – and often impossible – for students to go to schools, patients to visit hospitals, and farmers to access their land and grow food.
In this remarkable video, the Gaza branch of Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, documents the plight of fishers and farmers in the Gaza Strip. This video is a testament to Palestinians’ commitment to their land and livelihoods despite overwhelming Israeli military pressure to give up. Palestinian farmers and fishers continuously risk their lives by pursuing their craft amidst the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For them giving up their way of life, and a means to sustain their families, is not an option.
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) muses, “In the old days, Haitian peasants never sold seeds; seeds were for sharing and exchanging.”
Today the old ways have been pushed aside. Seeds have become big business.
This assault on the basic human right to food commercializes and commodifies one of life’s most essential assets. It jeopardizes human health, threatens the global food supply and steals away the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.
The $10-billion proposed canal would divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in an effort to save the later from “environmental degradation.” The project is a partnership between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Grassroots International partners the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Stop the Wall are among the signatories to the statement below that calls for a halt to the project. Palestinian organizations cite both political and environmental reasons for their calls to stop this water and land grab that would impede Palestinian rights.
When you hear “seed bank” what comes to mind? Is it perhaps a vault or a deep freezer stocked with seeds? Yes, Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees’ seed bank has those, but what I saw and heard was so much more than that. UAWC’s seed bank also assists farmers while protecting local agricultural biodiversity across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) – literally preserving their seed sovereignty amidst the occupation.