***image1*** Each day, for the last four months, Khalid Yousef Zeet, a resident and farmer in Qalqiliya, has worked his last three dunums of land despite harassment from Israeli contractors and private security. The activity of bulldozers destroying his land, less than one hundred meters away, takes place while he harvests and replants what is left of his crops. Three dunums of cabbage is all Khalid was left with after November 2002 when the Israeli military confiscated his other five dunums of cropland, bountiful with orange, lemon, guava, and olive trees, for the Wall. Khalid recalls that, "Before the Intifada it was possible to come and sleep here [on his land], but now it is too upsetting."

Along with his land, Khalid is loosing access to a well which irrigates his land, both which is reachable and isolated. There is an alternative well, which lies on the west side of the Wall, which up till now farmers have been able to access. However, access depends upon the mood of soldiers and Israeli private “security” forces each day and before long the Wall will be completed here, rendering the land and well west vulnerable to confiscation. As most farmers in Qalqiliya, Khalid is repeatedly threatened by the military to stop working his land, which has not been confiscated for the Wall. Recounting the number of instances he was threatened, Khalid laughed, "Over a hundred! But they've only shot near me twice to leave."

Olive trees were among the most valued of all his cropland confiscated for the Wall. When construction of the Wall began, at the end of the olive season, Khalid and his neighbors watched the Israeli military uproot hundreds of olive trees, load them in a truck and haul them away. When the farmers inquired about where their trees were being taken, the soldiers replied that is was "a security matter." Remembering the events, Khalid’s nephew Rzq stated, “Do you know what the olive trees mean to us…they mean everything.”

***image2***Khalid, who suffered from a heart attack one year ago, doesn't foresee alternative income sources to support his five small children. Khalid's family used to ship produce to Nablus before the Intifada, but now the cost of shipping has become too much of a burden; the cost of sending one box to Nablus has almost tripled from one to 2.8 Israeli shekels. Khalid explained that selling produce inside Qalqiliya is no longer viable since outside customers cannot enter the city and city residents are in need of produce because most families are involved in agriculture.

The loss of land, which is threatening Khalid's ability to sustain his family, has brought many of Qalqiliya's farmers together to support one another in “visiting” confiscated lands and harvesting remaining crops. Together, farmers risk their safety and lives to travel to land which is being declared as a “closed military zone” in order to reap what benefits they can. Two of Khalid’s neighbors share his feelings that the Wall is destroying everything- their land, the market, the ability to live, and their freedom.

"Tomorrow we don't know what we will be able to do," Khalid grimly acknowledges, "We say that God will help us, that they will let us stay in our houses…for the last forty years this land has been worked by us. My Grandfather lost almost fifty dunums of land in 1948, now there are only three dunums left."

This personal story is taken from the PENGON publication The Wall in Palestine: Facts, Testimonies, Analysis and Call to Action written in June 2003.


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