In December 2006 I visited what was once Dr Attalah’s farm for the first time. It had been destroyed by Israeli army bulldozers during an incursion in November of 2001. Just months after my visit Dr Attalah decided to take out loans and replant the land, and there, out of the destruction, to create something beautiful.
The land had lain barren for six years, bulldozed so severely that the two asphalt roads that once ran alongside the land had disappeared beneath the piles of sand. For three days two bulldozers leveled the land. It was almost impossible to determine the old boundaries of the land.
Dr Attalah is now in debt to the company that leveled the land, to the shop he purchased the used motor from and to the contractor that laid the foundation for the engine room. Until that last debt is paid the contractor will not build the actual building that ought to be there to protect the motor and provide a shelter for the workers.
Dr Attalah sits with nearby farmers to determine an agreement for the renting of his land. The farmer pays for renting the land and covers the costs of planting the crops and does all the farming. He will then pocket all the income of the crops.
This is Abu Rushdie, the man who will rent and farm Dr Attalah's land.
Dr Attalah and Abu Rushdie discuss plans for the barren land.
It was only by chance, or providence that Dr Attalah's old well was found at all.
Abu Mahmoud, the mechanic and Dr Attalah are childhood friends. Abu Mahmoud came out to the land to make some repairs on the engine that is pumping water from the well.
The fields have turned a beautiful green.
Abu Rushdie's kids do a lot of the work here.
Yesterday homemade projectiles were launched into Israel and the Israeli army responded by firing missiles at a car in Northern Gaza, killing one. It was reportedly carrying the perpetrators. Disturbing the peace of others of both Israelis and Palestinians needs to be punished. Extrajudiciary assassinations are illegal under international law and must be condemned.
Such actions disturb the peace of the area that Dr Attalah and Abu Rushdie are farming their land.
In spite of death and the economic depression in Gaza, this green land is something beautiful.
If you feel like helping Dr Attalah pay back his debts,