Breaking New Ground on Land Reclamation Project
The Center for Freedom and Justice has been working with local farmers to develop Palestinian land in Area C. As part of our strategy we have started a land rehabilitation program called “Nonviolence and Agricultural Cooperation in Palestine.” The project aims to protect Palestinian land from further confiscation by encouraging local farmers to keep working in close proximity to nearby Israeli settlements, despite the daily harassment by settlers. It also aims to generate substantial income for local farmers; growing crops in greenhouses allows them to produce more than one vegetable crop each year, helping to offset the economic burden placed on them by the occupation.
Since 1984 Beit Ommar is faced with the existence of the Israeli settlement Karmei Tsur which was built on property of Beit Ommar citizens. For 30 years settlers have been trying to impede the lives of the farmers owning land in and around Karmei Tsur. Settlers spill sewage water on their fields which can destroy the harvest, they uproot trees, they attack farmers physically, and use other vicious tactics.
We want to motivate the Palestinian farmers to reclaim their land and cultivate it again. We want to green the abandoned fields as much as possible. When land is not being cultivated for three years, the state of Israel is allowed to confiscate it due to an old Ottoman law. We try to avoid this confiscation in any way possible.
We will also provide the farmers with opportunities to sell their goods on local markets or to use them in food production. This will improve their economic situation. Often the farmers cannot sell their harvest due to obstacles of the occupation like checkpoints or limited permits.
The project that is being supported by the French institution Movement pour une Alternative Non-
Violent(MAN), Association of France Palestine Solidarity(AFPS), and is planned for three years.
Our goals for the year 2014 are:
- Reclaiming 10 dunams of land
- Drilling rainwater drains
- Planting 10 dunams with fruit trees
The center launched the project at the beginning of September, the initial stage includes dredging the earth, plowing, and building retaining walls. The second stage will include installation of fence, drilling a well, and planting trees. In order to achieve these goals we depend on help from outside. We ask for donations of plants of all kind.