dignified beyond losses:Palestinian farmers’ livelihoods destroyed by Israel

*Mahmoud Musleh: “I’ve had three main things destroyed by Israeli forces: a tile factory on Sikka street (northern Beit Hanoun), another tile factory on Salah el Din street (Beit Hanoun), and the water well on my land. My olive trees have been bulldozed many times by Israeli forces. I’m 70 years old and now I have nothing, like when I was 16.”


*Mohammed Zaneen [eastern Beit Hanoun]: “I had 11 dunams of olive trees, bulldozed by the Israeli army. I used to earn well over US$11,000 from the olives. Now my oldest trees are just 4 years old and produce only a meagre amount. We also have bees. When there were many olive, lemon and orange trees, the bees produced quality honey twice per year. Now, we have to supplement the bees’ diet with sugar; they produce honey just once per year.”


*Abdullah Abu Shar, Waddi Salqa (central eastern Gaza): “During the Israeli war on Gaza, my house and 50 other homes from our extended family were destroyed by the Israeli army. My son Mahmoud (25) and his wife Fida (18) were killed with their son Tamer (10 months) by two Israeli drone missile attacks on their home.” [He later adds, “we have 4 martyrs in our family, bas (only).” “That’s too many,” I say. His stoic face crumbles and he sobs silently for a moment.]


*the water tank and pump, sending water to 150,000 residents, was destroyed in the Israeli attacks. It was out of use for 2 months. It has been re-built 4 times over the last 10 years.



*Masiouna Abu Shar: “I lived here for 50 years. This was my grandfather’s land. The Israelis destroyed everything. Not a single house was left. All the land destroyed. All of us now have to rent homes in Deir el Balah. $150 per month. The land is so torn up you can’t farm it any longer. What can we do with this land?”



“This was our house. Nothing is left. We had 50 trees, too: olives, figs, guava… all destroyed. See those houses over there? Destroyed, everything gone, all from our family.”


*Abdul-Raziq Abu Shar: “Three times the Israelis have bulldozed my olive trees in the last 7 years: in 2002, 2004, and 2005. I had 120 olive trees, and another 100 date trees. 15 of which were over 30 years old.”


“Thank you very much, thank you for listening.”


*Nayfa Abu Shar: “My house was destroyed, along with all my trees.”


*Ghrelli Abu Shar: “I lived with my son and his 4 children. Our house was destroyed. So were our 80 trees: we had figs, olives, lemons and dates.”


“We’ve made a small two room shelter with some of the stones we retrieved, but it’s not complete. When I come here during the day, I use this tent for shade, make food over a fire. I’m afraid to stay past sunset; the Israeli soldiers are always shooting at us here.”


*Sabri Jendiya (74), Shayjayee, eastern Gaza: “I’ve worked our land since I was a boy. We’re farmers, we put all of our investment into our land. We have 30 dunams (30,000 square metres) about 800m from the border fence.Because of the danger from Israeli soldier shooting, I don’t work my land like I used. Also, all the water sources were destroyed by the Israeli war on Gaza. When it rains, I will plant simple vegetables. There are 30 people in our house and only one of my sons has work.”

*Shabaan Mohammed Mhayssy (83): “I was so happy on my 7.5 dunams of land. I spent 10,000 shekels (~$2,500) to make our water cistern with a pump for watering the land. My olive trees were very old. The cistern and all of my trees have been destroyed by Israeli soldiers. I can’t feed the 30 people in our house.”


*Samir: “My land has been bulldozed 7 times. This area had maybe 100 olive and orange trees. There were 6 wells. All have been destroyed. When farmers were producing their own food, they were able to live self-sufficiently. Now they are run-off their land by Israeli attacks and are dependent on aid.”

*Ramzi Hillis: “I have good land, 20 dunams (20,000 square metres) about 400m from the border fence. All the trees and my 10,000 chickens have been bulldozed and destroyed, from 2004 until now. We still keep bees, though the honey production is very poor these years. I work as a taxi driver now to help support the 13 people in my family.”

amar mhayssy

*Amar Mhayssy (78): “My wife and I have 9 dunams (9,000 square metres) of land in the buffer zone. We can’t use the land because the Israelis will shoot us. We have 10 dunams of land over 500m from the border fence. Of that, we had 2 dunams of olive trees, over 60 years old. They were all bulldozed by the Israeli army. We will re-plant, and pray to Allah that the trees are not again bulldozed. We’ve got 13 people in our family, with 4 children in university. None of us has employment.”


*Amar Mhayssy and Sena Mhayssy (75): “Every morning the Israeli soldiers shoot at us. It’s a hard life here.”


*Salem As Saede. eastern Beit Hanoun: “I had 4.5 dunams of land, with olive and orange trees; it has all been destroyed by Israeli soldiers in recent years” During the winter Israeli massacre of Gaza, Israeli soldiers finished off his land and once again destroyed his water well. Married twice, Saede has 17 children, non employed. All are dependent on food aid. He cannot even work his land to provide fresh produce. Formerly, Saede was a school teacher.

see Mazin Qumsiyeh’s “Palestinian Olives


21 thoughts on “dignified beyond losses:Palestinian farmers’ livelihoods destroyed by Israel

  1. A great photo essay, Eva. I learned a lot. These people are starving. They are skin and bone. ‘Terribly frustrating to see this suffering continue year after year, decade after decade while politicians fuss and fight.

  2. Eva,

    I know that keeping going is an enormous emotional, spiritual and financial burden.

    I read your blog all the time, and I so admire you. And I wish I could send you money, but I can’t, as I too am someone that works for others, in my case, our wildlife species and the web of their habitats that support all of us.

    Just know that I really care, that I’m doing my part in another area of things that absolutely need to get done. The Palestinian people, just as the Native American people here, are very dear to my heart.

    I don’t have money to send. What I do have is the courage and commitment to work for all of them, for the rest of my life – except for the money part (although I know so very well how that part is needed).

    There ARE some of us who have chosen a path to give ourselves to a larger cause through our actions, rather than money. And we always still have to ask for money. I am one of them, and I heart you. Do not stop. Do not give up. I read you all the time, and I can truly say that I love you. You are my soul sister, working on behalf of other beings. I do the same, for wildlife, nature, and indigenous people – the source of human sustainability.

    Take care.

  3. […] live ammunition spat out by bored teenage soldiers or remote controlled automated towers. Yet of the farmers who harvest any thing, they share willingly. And it is fresh, luscious produce. Were they able to […]

  4. […] this farmer with hundreds of dunams (1 dunam is 1000 square metres) to his name. And they are but one of countless farming families in Palestine facing the same Zionist […]

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