Two days ago Dr Attalah brought me a big bag of potatoes. At long last the risk he took early this year to restore and cultivate his land in the Northern Gaza Strip which included re-digging his old well and buying a new motor have paid off… and yet not without cost. Dr Attalah is still $5000 in debt, which he cannot pay off. And then, two weeks ago when the Israeli forces again occupied an area in the Northern Gaza Strip they tore up a quarter of his land, but thankfully no harm was done to the motor and well this time.
While there the Israeli forces were stationed in a house that lies on the boundaries of Dr Attalah’s land. The owner of the home knew the risk of it being occupied was great during incursions because of its location, so he built a roof that the army could use to be stationed on (I have never built a house or had one built for me, but I don’t think it’s the norm in housing construction to make plans for an army to occupy part of a home). The soldiers had other ideas though and tore down all the walls in the top floor in order to turn that into their headquarters instead of the roof. The family was detained in the bottom floor for the week, their movement severely restricted.
Dr Attalah finally visited his land yesterday after many weeks of the danger being too great. Sa’id Alattar, a farmer was killed on his bike on the path near the land. An Israeli sniper shot him in the back; he was dead on the spot.
Abu Rushdie, the farmer who is renting Dr Attalah’s land did not stop tending to it throughout the past weeks. He cannot afford the losses of skipping a days work, especially at such a critical stage of harvest. He could not afford to hide in fear. Abu Rushdie and his boys, who help him with the work had to get permission daily in order to reach the land. Some days they were held from doing so, for five days they were given from 7am to noon to tend to what remained of their crops, while the Israeli tanks and snipers looked on nearby.