Dozens of Israeli volunteers, including senior reservist IDF officers, lent a hand to farmers at a vineyard in Samaria, filling in for American volunteers.

The volunteers, members of the Habithonistim – Protectors of Israel organization of IDF reservist officers, joined workers at the Har Bracha Winery in Samaria to help out, after the vineyard was left without most of its volunteers.

For years, the Har Bracha Winery has attracted volunteers from around the world – members of “Hayovel”, an Evangelical Christian organization based in Greenville, Missouri.

But with air travel severely restricted and entry to non-citizens largely banned during the coronavirus pandemic, the vineyard has been left understaffed.

“The farmers are really in trouble,” said Nate Waller, Director of Operations for Hayovel.

“Usually we bring about 200 to 300 volunteers in for harvest. But because of the coronavirus and the shut down, it has been a really difficult year for the farmers.”

“So we brought 100 volunteers from the HaBithonistim movement,” said Brig. Gen. (Res.) Amir Avivi, CEO of Habithonistim – Protectors of Israel, “It is very meaningful work.”

Thus far, the volunteers have completed harvesting grapes on 10 dunams (2.5 acres), with work expected to continue on the roughly 100 remaining dunams (25 acres) remaining till the Sukkot holiday in October.

Fifty Hayovel volunteers from abroad will be joining the work for a period of three months, after Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan was able to secure special permission for them to enter the country. The volunteers will be required to spend two weeks in isolation before beginning their work, similar to the conditions imposed on hotel workers brought to Eilat from Jordan.

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