others’ thoughts

[Thoughts from Bruce Taub, delegation member of the Health and Human Rights Project from Jewish Voices for Peace and co-chair of the PDA Israel Palestine Task Force.]

On Saturday, I joined with over 100 Israeli Jews and international activists to help Palestinian farmers harvest olives in the Qalqiliya district of the Occupied Palestinian Territories where farmers have been isolated from and/or denied access to their agricultural lands by the Separation Wall. I worked on the farm of Shareef Omar Khalid and his wife Siham in the village of Ja’ayus, an ancient Palestinian village of about 500 homes originally built over caves that have been lived in since at least the pre-Christian era.

Although Ja’ayus lies six kilometers on the Palestinian side of the Green Line the Separation Wall that the Israelis have constructed runs right through the village and separates the farmers from their lands. It consists of a series of fences and ditches, razor wire, gates, a trench of 2-3 meters depth, an unpaved road 3 to 4 meters above the surrounding ground, then a main fence 4 meters high supplied with electronic sensors, then a paved road, then another trench and razor wire with a gate. The whole of this separation barrier ranges between 40 and 80 meters wide. It isolates 8,600 dunums (75% of Ja’ayus’ land) from the villagers. Its construction alone destroyed 650 dunums of Ja’ayus land and over 4,000 trees were uprooted.

Shareef, who has worked this land for over six decades, as did his parents and grandparents before him, was recently denied access to his fields. So, too, his sons and daughters. Hence we are here helping to harvest. Can there be any purpose to this denial of access other than the theft of his lands, his trees, and his livelihood?

Musab – a poem written after visiting Musab at the apartment house he lives in in Nablus.

I am Musab, six years old

Two days ago Israeli soldiers surrounded our house at 2 A.M. shooting

Helicopter gunships illuminated the night

Their rotors like giant fans hung from the sky

The whine of rockets like angry birds

Here 4 bullet holes through the door of the room where my brother sleeps

Here the shattered windows

“Take your clothes off, all of you,” the Israeli soldiers yell

Then father was handcuffed

Taken as a human shield to the apartment of uncle Hussan

Where bullets pierced another door

Pierced the chest of the old man opening it

Who bleeds to death for want of an ambulance

His body is removed

The soldiers withdraw

But brother is still crying

My city Nablus is still occupied

The old man remains dead

And I am Musab, six years old.

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