The Olive Season in Gaza Ended before it Began

A Palestinian child harvesting olives in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

The Israeli war on Gaza, which began on October 7 marked the end of the olive harvesting season in the Gaza Strip. 

In late September 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture in the Gaza Strip announced the start of the olive harvesting season. They extended hope for prosperity for the farmers, olive oil mill owners, and all those involved in this special time of the year. 

However, the Israeli war on Gaza, which began on October 7, marked the end of the olive harvesting season in the Gaza Strip. 

The extensive Israeli airstrikes across all Gaza governorates resulted in the destruction of thousands of olive orchards, depriving thousands of farmers of the ability to harvest olives. It also caused severe damage to olive oil mills, leading to their complete closure.  

Significant Material Losses

Abu Khalid Abu Kamil is a farmer from Gaza.

He told The Palestine Chronicle that “October is considered the peak of the olive harvesting season in the Gaza Strip. However, the continuous shelling has made it impossible to harvest olives. Many residents and farmers had to leave their lands due to the shelling.”

Abu Kamil, who has an olive orchard emphasized, “I own a large olive tree farm in the village of Al-Maghraqa in central Gaza. But Al-Maghraqa is in the northern areas of the Gaza Valley and has been subjected to heavy shelling. Many of the people of Al-Maghraqa, laborers, and olive tree farm owners were forced to leave Al-Maghraqa and relocate to the southern areas of the Gaza Valley, fearing Israeli shelling.” 

“We constantly anticipate the olive season and work year-round to care for the trees, spraying them with insecticides to preserve them. Tens of thousands of farmers in the Gaza Strip work in this field. But this is now a thing of the past. We have suffered substantial losses that cannot be described, and our season has now come to an end.”

Palestinian farmer Tamer Al-Nabheen told us, “We have dozens of olive trees east of the Bureij refugee camp, very close to the border. But we are now living outside our home and cannot access the olive trees. The occupation targeted the area with several warheads and dozens of artillery shells.”

“Our losses are very significant due to the loss of the olive season. We are in debt to many companies that provide the products needed to maintain healthy trees. We promised to pay them after the olive season. However, now the season is lost and over. We have lost many olive trees due to the shelling,” Al-Nabheen stressed.

 We Lost Our Seasonal Employment

Tarek Abu Awad is a seasonal worker. 

“Many unemployed workers and youth, like myself, were waiting for the olive season to find temporary work that would last for about two months,” he told The Palestine Chronicle. 

“This season would provide us an opportunity to earn a living for our families. But now, we have lost our source of income, and we don’t have the money to provide for our families.”

“We started olive harvesting at the end of September, but there was little work, as most farmers prefer to start picking olives in mid-October. But this is no longer possible, as the Israeli war has killed and destroyed everything,” Abu Awad continued.  

Hazem Tabaza is also a worker. “I have 12 children at home, and I can no longer provide them with food. I work in various temporary jobs, and the olive season was an opportunity for us to find work for two months. But the war has destroyed all our hopes and dreams,” he told The Palestine Chronicle.

“I live in a rented house, and I can’t find food for my 12 children. There are no jobs in Gaza due to the ongoing war, and people have no money. Everything is bombed, and even if there were food items available, there’s no money to buy them. The olive season is lost, and so are the job opportunities that were our lifeline in the difficult living conditions in Gaza, exacerbated by Israel’s ongoing blockade.”

Since the beginning of the war on Gaza, Israeli forces have continued to target all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip, deliberately destroying the Palestinian economy, including small businesses and olive orchards. 

This systematic destruction has greatly heightened the humanitarian and environmental crisis in Gaza.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a contributor for The Palestine Chronicle from the Gaza Strip. His email is

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