Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jayyous Land between the Barrier and the Border

Sherif on the tractor, pulling Siham and I in a small metal trailer. We crawl over the roads at walking-speed, which are made almost entirely of medium sized rocks for long stretches.

CLICK TO ENLARGE (and for a clearer picture, select "full screen" on your browser)
Looking Eastward toward Jayyous, which appears on the hilltop, and over some of the land that Jayyous has lost behind the fence. Much of the land on the hilltops may soon contain a huge new Israeli settlement (an "expansion" of Zufim that is many times the size of Zufim itself). About 300 farmers have land in this area, though only about 2/3rds of them have permits to enter their own land!!

Harvesting Cactus

Grazing Sheep - an act of resistance.

IN OCTOBER 2003, Soldiers closed and locked the "agricultural gate" that Jayyous farmers use to pass through the separation barrier. Relying on irrigation, most of the trees and produce on these farms will die within a week if the farmers can't tend to the land. So, about 80 farmers cut a hole in the barrier and entered in the night. The soldiers knew they were there, but did nothign for several days. Then came the big roundup. The soldiers raided the area and detained about 60 farmers. They brought them back to the gate, and sent them marching back up to Jayyous, threatening them with a fine and jail time if they were caught on the land again.

About 20 of the farmers were able to avoid detection. They stayed on the land for 26 days without access to the village. "Everything we needed was here, except flour and rice." says Shareef. "So we starved a little bit until some farmers from Qalqilya were able to sneak some supplies to us from a hole in their fence. I called my wife after the arrests and she said 'what are you doing?'

'I'm resisting!' I replied.

'Will your resistance bring the eggplants to the market. Come back home! Are we divorced?'"

Shareef begins laughing as he finishes recounting the dialoge: "Well, you always wanted a house, so you have a house in the village. I always wanted to live on the farm, so here I am."

In fact Siham is as much of a resister as Shareef, though Shareef seemed to enjoy telling this story about their "divorce."

They stayed on the field for weeks, evading the soldiers at night. After 26 days, the soldiers finally reopened the gate. The farmers walked through, headed back to Jayyous as if nothing had happened. It seems that they won the round: if I understand correctly, the gate has not been closed for such an extended time since.

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