For many years the olive trees have been systematically destroyed by the Israeli authority and by the illegal settlers in the West Bank. The reason behind it is to push back Palestinian farmers from their land. More than 80,000 Palestinian families rely on olives and olive oil for primary or secondary sources of income in the West Bank. The Palestinian farmers face serious challenges in maintaining and harvesting their olive crops. Thousands of Palestinians are denied permits to access their olive groves located behind the segregation wall. The wall is a major obstacle to Palestinian movement within the West Bank, and it has a direct impact on olive-related livelihoods. Palestinian farmers need special permits or prior coordination to access farming land designated as a ‘closed area’ or Area C which is 60% of the West Bank and is all under military control to protect the illegal settlers. If the Palestinian farmer is granted approval, he has to cross-designated Barrier gates and checkpoints and faces the settler violence. The settler violence poses a serious challenge for many Palestinian farmers. Palestinian-owned olive trees have been damaged, uprooted, poisoned, burnt down and harvested by settlers.
For the past 4 years, through charity events and with the help of “To Be There” and its peaceful campaign to save the olive tree from the occupation destruction in Palestine, we managed to plant 3,500 olive trees during Land-Day between the years 2012-2016. The trees were planted on Palestinian private owned lands that is under threat of been confiscated by the Israeli forces. Planting olive trees during land day stands for the peaceful resistance against occupation and against olive tree destruction and saving land confiscation. Through my trips to Palestine for the past four years I managed with the help of “To Be There” to help 10 Palestinian families from the town of Al Khader near Bethlehem. Like other Palestinian villages, Al Khader is surrounded by the wall, settlements and checkpoints. By providing this help to the farmers of the village we hope that the generation will continue defending the tree that became the symbolic for resistance and peace.
Hanan Awad is a Palestinian American street photographer based in Oklahoma. She is a member of “The Arab Photo Agency.” Her photos have been exhibited around the world. After having had solo exhibitions in Abu Dhabi-UAE (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017), Houston-Texas (2018 and 2019), and Gallery Al Quds in Washington D.C. (2019) With a keen eye for disappearing places and traditions, Hanan’s photos document the tragedy of the physical and cultural forced displacement of Palestinians and narrate the story of Palestinian resilience/resistance against the colonialist occupation of Palestine.
After witnessing the forced displacement of the Jahalin Bedouins, Hanan became interested in their history. She devoted several years of research and fieldwork with the Jahalin community and wrote her Master thesis about their plight. In 2012, she established the Olive Tree Project that plants 1,000 olive trees in Palestine annually.
She holds a B.A. from Rutgers University, New Jersey in Middle Eastern Studies and a Masters in Latin America and the Middle East from University Of Central Oklahoma. She earned a filmmaking certificate from New York Film Academy.