Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)

Land Means Everything Here: The Israeli Occupation is a Land Grab

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 Their Own Words: Gaza's Farmers and Fishers Speak Out

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. 

Promoting Seed Sovereignty

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.

Palestinian NGOs Issue Statement Condemning World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

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.

Planting Seeds of Sovereignty in Palestine

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.

In the Crosshairs

Cicero Guedes, a former sugar cane cutter turned land rights activist, worked in Campo dos Goytacazes, a settlement in Brazil. There he organized with the Landless Workers Movement (MST) to help families achieve what he had received: legal claim to land as part of Brazil’s agrarian reform movement.

For his tireless work, Cicero was murdered, shot more than a dozen times while he rode his bicycle to the fields. His assassination seemed intended to send a message to other would-be land rights activists: organize and you will pay the ultimate price.

Commemorating Palestinian Land Day

 For 37 years, March 30 has been celebrated as Palestinian Land Day, a day of action for land rights.  On this date in 1976, Palestinians inside Israel mobilized to protest Israel’s plans to take 2,000 hectares of land from Palestinian communities in Galilee.  Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces, and hundreds more were injured and arrested.  Though the repression was severe, people around world celebrate this date as an important moment in history, bringing Palestinians together in a common struggle for their rights to land wherever they live.

Youth Movements: The Next Generation of Global Leaders

The future success of global social movements depends largely on cultivating the next generation of activists. With the support of Grassroots International, local groups around the world are organizing creative social, political and environmental awareness programs explicitly engaging youth. Below are a few highlights from some of the grants we made this past year.

Water for Life, Water for All

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories (oPt) has not only physically dominated the land that supports the Palestinian people but also the vital water resources that feed the land. The natural cycles and recharging of these important water resources have been altered by the systematic confiscation and control policies imposed by Israel that deny Palestinians’ right to the water resources in the oPt. Drought-induced water scarcity, poor sanitation conditions and low economic development further add to the hardship of water-starved Palestinians.

Preparations Underway for the World Social Forum-Free Palestine

For the past year, Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (both Grassroots International partners) have been working diligently with their Palestinian and Brazilian allies to fulfill the call issued in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar. Then, participants expressed a desire to hold a thematic World Social Forum to explore ongoing social injustice in the occupied Palestinian territories; and to formulate an international response from the peoples of the world since states have either been unwilling or unable to provide pathways toward a just peace.