Thursday, August 18, 2005


The Voice of a Gazan

I must give credit to Yedi'ot Aharanot and to Ali Waked, who give us an opportunity to read what one Palestinian (given, it's only one voice, but it's better than none) from Gaza has to say about the ongoing disengagement process. Hashem al-Ara, 51, was from a family that owned 70 dunams (17.5 acres) of land that was taken and used to build the settlement of Neve Dekalim.
You stand for 20 years, looking at the land you had slowly disappearing while things are built upon it, but not for us. It’s a sight I don’t wish on anybody. So I understand that it is painful for the settlers that they are forced to leave. Particularly those that were born here. Not their parents who came and stole our land. But thanks to Allah, land always returns to its owners.

I remember that most of the land was covered with apple orchards. There were many palm trees as well, dates, and all sorts of species. Palm trees as high as 20 meters, some of them 70 years and older, that my father planted. There were some vegetables and also some guava. But mostly apples, amazing apples. Green American apples that were slightly tart and delicious. I remember the size of the apples. I can still feel and taste them in my mouth. A simple life that in an instant was destroyed.

Until today, when I look in the direction of Neve Dekalim and see the gate I remember the apples that are buried there underneath it.

If you go to the western gate of Neve Dekalim, before the square there’s a large water well there. Right next to it is the trunk of a tree. That tree is about 70 years old. My father’s cousin planted that tree.
Actually, I happen to be of the opinion that land hardly ever returns to its owners (thanks or no thanks to Allah) -- and of course, then you get into the whole sticky business of land ownership itself. But I suppose that's a different matter altogether.

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