Marthie Momberg: Testimony from a farmer in the West Bank

All we have in our hands are plants.

Testimony from a farmer in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, Palestine

 

The agricultural lands An Nasariya are
considered the food basket of the Nablus area.
On 8 September 2011 Israeli soldiers (without a demolition order)
forcefully destroyed three Palestinian water wells of this farming community with
a bulldozer.  All the equipment,
including pumps, engines, filters and 4 000 liters of gasoline (at 7 NIS per
litre) that provided water to a network of farmers were confiscated and the
owners’ tools were thrown into the wells.
The livelihood of 350 families and 1000 contract workers are directly
affected by this illegal deed. Yet Palestinian farmers say that they don’t give
up.  To them, the rebuilding of the wells
is an act of resistance. Nagahe Zaad (54) with a family of ten members owned
one of the wells that were destroyed.  He
spoke to the Yanoun EAPPI team:

“Now we understand the Oslo
Agreement.  In this agreement, all wells
that were built between 2002 and 2005 may not be demolished.  But Israel does not keep this promise. I went
to court after the second demolition, but it is a military court and they told
me they cannot help me and that Israel had to destroy my well for security
reasons.

 I am a farmer.
I plant tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, melon, aubergines, peppers and many other
things. Our sheep eat the foliage after we have harvested. Now we have no water
and we cannot plant and our sheep drink the sewage water from the open canal.

When it happened, I just stood there. I felt so angry,
but I could just stand looking. There were so many soldiers and military
vehicles that came for us and we are just civilians. All we have in our hands
are plants. It took about three to four hours and it all happened right in my
face. No one was allowed to enter this area when it happened. I was thinking of
all the other farmers who depend on the water.
I fell down to the ground and was taken to a doctor.

We do not get support from the authorities or from
NGOs. The PA talks to the Israelis to get permits for our wells, but they never
return with signed documents. They also don’t get help from the UN. Our water
hole gives only 7 m3 per hour and the Israelis get 500 m3 per
hour and still, we may not have water. Before 1948 Jews and Palestinians were
neighbours in this area and we all had good lives. We are willing to live with
Israelis and we will share our water. We live in a holy land and we do not want
to suffer anymore. We ask – what does the world think to watch us like this?

We need money to repair our wells and we are scared
that they will demolish it again.  The
other two owners of wells and I decided that we shall now rebuild only one
well, then we can share the costs. But it also means that we shall produce
less. We know the Israelis will destroy our wells again. But I have been a
farmer all my life.  My father and
grandfather also farmed on this land. This is what I do.  We now live with this, we will not move. We
stay here.

Testimony given to EAPPI, Yanoun team.

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