On 6th September, ICAHD’s Jeff Halper visited Atta Jaber on his farm in the southern West Bank. It was Atta’s birthday but instead of cake, Jeff was served something much better – maklouba.
Atta showed Jeff around the half acre narrow strip of farmland that runs along the main highway that he is allowed to till. Atta’s farmland with its terraces and established fruit trees located up the hill by his house was bulldozed by the Israeli authorities using JCB bulldozers a few years ago and now Atta is forbidden to farm “Israeli state land” – though he has a deed of ownership that goes back 100 years. In addition, Atta’s olive orchard has been fenced in by the Kiryat Arba settlement, to which he also has no access.
Atta struggles to grow his produce – beans, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, cauliflower, lettuce, grapes – some for sale, the rest to live from. He has no access to water, and so he has to buy 10 tanks of water at a cost of $1000 to get through the summer (right), though you see the zucchini has died in the heat (below) because he simply didn’t have the means to purchase enough water to keep them alive. In addition, Atta must also buy fertilizers & organic insecticides, so he ends up either close to breaking even or at a loss in a bad year.
Atta’s home has been demolished twice (& rebuilt each time by ICAHD together with the family), and he and his family are constantly harassed by settlers, who even occupied and then burnt his home as the Israeli army and police watched.
As Jeff says, “But Atta refuses to give in – and the sum-total of Atta is so much more than his tribulations.”
We send congratulations to all the Jaber family on the birth of Atta’s grandson, Atta Junior, born on 9th September.