Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) Dec. 2004 - Feb. 2005

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004
Uprooting of 117 Olive Trees

as witnessed by Ecumenical Accompanier Christoph Gocke

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Part One: The Morning

8:57 am: Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) Christoph Gocke overlooks the works at the quarry, which is still exploited by the company ”Leader”. Behind the quarry to the right hand side bulldozers begun several days ago to pave the area for a new settlement, called an extension to the existing one of Zufim. The quarry is surrounded by agricultural land of palestinian farmers near by, mainly from Jayyous. The farmers are separated from their land by the new fence and have to cross a gate, which is opened four times a day for one hour. However, many farmers and workers did not get the necessary permission to cross the gate. Within the quarry stands a huge bloc. This rock plateau has not been exploited by the quarry, because it is apparently the olive grove of the Salim family from Jayyous.

8:59 am: In addition to the two bulldozers working there for some days, EA Gocke discovers a hydraulic excavator. It is hard to see from the distance, but it looks like the uprooting of trees.

9:33 am: The EA arrives at the olive grove together with the Swedish photographer Donald Bostroem and Israeli Eran Brin, accidentally here for a solidarity picking of olives with some palestinian farmers on the sloves of the hill of the existing settlement Zufim. They document the scene of continuous uprooting of olive trees. At that time around 20 trees had been uprooted.

10:00 am: EA Gocke stays there alone among two armed settlers, who told they were from the Jordan Valley, while the hydraulic Caterpillar-excavator CAT 330B uproots one olive tree after the other. The EA informs the coordinator of the EAPPI in Jerusalem, who contacts several peace groups and other institutions interested in incidents like this. Through different channels they try to create resistance against the uprooting. The EA also informs people from Jayyous, who won’t be able to get there before the next opening of the gate at 12:30 h. However they argue, that most of the people will be afraid to go there because of the armed settlers. A guard from the quarry company tells the EA that they will build on the whole site a new settlement of “700 units” within four years. He offers the EA to buy some of the olive trees.

11:26 am: A bulldozer from the quarry arrives and paves the way across the holes, where minutes ago olive trees stood, to enable the excavator to go back to the eastern site of the rock plateau to start uprooting another row of trees. EA Gocke counts around 80 trees that had been uprooted so far, some of them definitely destroyed.

11:58 am: The first olive tree is put onto a lorry. The driver tells the EA that he will bring the trees to the Tel Aviv area, to be sold there.

Follow Up of the Diary
Part Two: The Afternoon

More Information in the
Complete Report

The Day, Tawfik Salim Lost His Olive Grove
How 117 Trees Were Uprooted for a New Jewish Settlement in the West Bank
Dec. 9, 2004

Complete Diary
Uprooting of Olive Trees in Jayyous

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Disclaimer: I have been active from Dec. 2004 to Feb. 2005 for Evangelisches Missionswerk in Südwestdeutschland (EMS) as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained herein are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer EMS or the WCC. If you would like publish the information contained here or disseminate further, please first contact the EAPPI Communications Officer and Managing Director ( for permission. Thank you.