Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trees are life

Readers, please note this important story from EAPPI, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.  The post can also be read at the EAPPI "eyewitness reports."

`Trees for me are life'

Yusef Ali Kados is 77 years old. His family have been in Burin for generations. He worked as a primary school teacher for thirty years and has raised ten children with his wife. Israeli settlers have set fire to his olive trees on three occasions by Israeli settlers in the ten years since the attacks began.

Yusef is now left with only the 45-50 trees that are planted in front of his house. His olive trees, planted east of the private road to the Yizhar settlement, were amongst those burned two weeks ago by settlers. He lost all 350 of his olive trees and 50 almond trees, these were the last surviving trees of his on this land.

"For ten years now we have been suffering from the settlers burning the trees. We have also been attacked when we try to harvest the olives. When the trouble started ten years ago we went to harvest the olives and we were told by the settlement security not to come there anymore. When the olive trees were burned this last time, I sent my son to see because I am too old. I was in the mosque praying and he told me afterwards that everything was gone, destroyed."

"The army support and provide cover for the settlers. We want them to arrest the settlers. They see the settlers and know what they are doing. If one of us hits a settler then we will be arrested, if a settler hits one of us nothing is done. To defend yourself you must stay silent. I have not made any official complaints. The village council has taken the names of all of those who lost trees and report this to the agricultural ministry in Nablus with hope of compensation."

"These trees provided an extra income for the family. We could produce 40-50 jerry cans (18L a piece) of oil, which we could then sell some of. Every year there is less oil produced as more and more trees are burnt every year. These trees took 60 years to grow, if we plant new ones it would take 10 to 15 years to have them mature enough for harvesting. But we cannot plant again because the land is so near the private settlement road."

"Trees for me are life. I am 77 years old. I planted these trees myself in 1952. After school I would go straight to the olive trees before I would go home. It is paining us in our hearts to see the trees destroyed. The earth is the life of the farmer. My blood is burning with anger because I see my land burning and I can do nothing."


Thanks to the EAPPI team at Yanoun for this report.

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