55 internationals from 12 countries, namely: Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Sweden, UK and USA, joined the JAI-ATG Olive Planting Program from the 8th to the 17th of February 2014.
The program included four half days olive trees planting on various threatened fields in various villages in the Bethlehem area. Each day the participants planted around 400 – 500 olive saplings, part of the season' internationally sponsored olive trees through the Olive Tree Campaign. Through planting, participants got to witness the Israeli occupation policies of land confiscation, settlements' activities, harassments to farmers, attacks on olive trees and land. They met and listened to stories from Palestinian farmers and their families, and expressed their solidarity with them for "Keeping Hope Alive".
At one fields, Israeli soldiers showed up, asked the participants to stop planting for a while, harassed the farmers and their families, who would not be able to access and plant trees at their threatened fields without the internationals presence.
In another field, on last planting day, shortly after they started, the participants were forced by the Israeli soldiers to stop planting and leave the fields, having the Israeli settlement of Teqou' (constructed on the agricultural land of Teqou' Palestinian village) adjacent to the field, hence the field is a potential land for settlement' expansion!
Besides planting, the program included guided tours inside a refugee camp, closures and settlements in Hebron old city, witnessing the wall and settlements inside the Bethlehem area, Bili'n village with the popular resistance committee, Jerusalem and Bethlehem old cities and religious sites, Bedouins in Jerusalem facing displacements by the Israelis, and others.
The participants received professional presentations and discussed the issues of the ongoing displacement of Palestinians and right of return at Badil centre, geopolitical presentation at the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University. In the evenings, they had sessions on the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) Campaign, Kairos Palestine, popular resistance in Palestine, Palestinian children in Israeli jails by DCI-Palestine, movies' screening, folklore (dabka) show and music, and others.
In one afternoon, the JAI organized an advocacy session to discuss suggested campaigns and activities, and put actions together, for the participants when they go back to their countries after the program, and how to maintain in communication and report their actions to the JAI.