“We plant the trees and work hard on it only to find out that it’s gone with the wind. When I went to the land and found the trees, I felt like my soul left my body. What you’ve struggled to build gone in the blink of an eye, it will make you emotional.”
I Felt Like My Soul Left My Body
Khirbet Sarra is a small community south of Nablus that falls within Area C and is subject to restrictions on construction of residential structures as well as infrastructure. The fences of the Shvut Rachel outpost of the settlement of Shilo are only a few meters away from the people’s lands and houses. One of the recent incidents of settler violence in the community occurred on 7 Feb 2021. Israeli settlers from the outpost “Shvut Rachel” of “Shilo” settlement have reportedly attacked an olive farm south of Khirbet Sarra and uprooted ten olive saplings and partially damaged ten others. A family of six is affected by this incident
One of the residents, Um Imad, told us about living in the shadow of settler attacks:
“I live in a village called Qaryut. My husband’s deceased. I have three sons and four daughters I plant olive trees. I inherited this land from my family. The Raheil settlement’s camera is right on my land; everywhere I go I’m constantly watched. I do feel fear but that doesn’t stop me from entering my land. I planted olive trees, but a while ago they cut a big tree of mine with a chainsaw. A few days later I came to visit the land and it was a rainy day. The land was empty. All the trees had been broken and cut.
“But who’s going to pay up for the damage done? I have worked hard for this land.
“They say I need to leave this land, and they cursed at me, but I ignored them. I ignored them so they don’t think that I’m scared of them because if I do leave, they will think they have gotten under my skin and will start constantly asking me to leave. I try not to leave the land, because if it’s left it will become their property.<br>I don’t have enough land to sell crops. I sell thyme and miramiyeh, but there are barely enough olives for me and my family, hopefully soon when I have enough olive trees.
“Most of the land is gone.
“I constantly feel afraid; when I’m in my land the way they look at me is so scary.
“We plant the trees and work hard on it only to find out that it’s gone with the wind. It feels like you have been raising a child and taking care of it, then something bad had happened to that child, and it that breaks your heart. When I went to the land and found the trees, I felt like my soul left my body. What you’ve struggled to build gone in the blink of an eye, it will make you emotional. To people who might not be put in the same shoes as Palestinian villagers it might seem like it’s just a tree. But it’s much deeper than that, you work hard and give that tree your best so it can give you the best olives. When I saw the trees in that situation, I broke down, I kept crying. I’ve always wanted to have olive trees and oil. That was taken away from me. I don’t know how to explain the struggle. I work for my children, I cultivate to feed my children.”
—Um Imad, 68-years-old