Farraheen, Round Two

Gaza, Faraheen, farming, Abasan Kabeer 003

Yesterday and today we went to Abasan Kabeera, near Farraheen. Yesterday we were there all morning, escorting farmers harvesting their crops. Things were initially pretty quiet. Yesterday, like today, was cloudy and cool, and the peasants picked the wheat, for the most part using their hands, occasionally using a small hand-scythe.
By the time we arrived at 7 AM the Israeli army had already shot in the general direction of these peasants repeatedly. They were not doing so when  we showed up in our  fluorescent yellow vests–the point. They do not know when we will show up and maybe in our small way we can nudge the dynamic of the conflict in such a way that no one dies.
Peasants in Farraheen reap crops on their hands and knees. This may be tradition, but it may be because the army is used to killing farmers and farmers are used to trying to avoid getting killed. We saw up close the gigantic swathe that the Israeli armored bulldozers had taken out of the fields a few weeks ago.
Gaza, Faraheen, farming, Abasan Kabeer 001
After maybe 40 minutes either a remote-controlled tower or a sniper cracked out a couple of shots in the general direction of the peasant women closest to the border. That’s far enough, this part of your land isn’t for you, the bullets’ crackle signaled. Eva ran over, Adie and Pam trailing slightly behind. I was sore and grabbed the megaphone and walked more slowly over.
They had stopped shooting nearly instantaneously after starting. We decided to split up. I gave Adie and Eva some rudimentary Hebrew-language instructions. First, say good morning to the soldiers: “Boker Tov, Tzahal.” Then ask them what the fuck they are doing: “Mah atem owsim?” Then I went back to where Rada was standing, creating a basically impotent shield around the farmers. Impotent physically.
If the IDF wants to kill they will. We discussed politics and I foraged for wheat-berry gleanings for the next 1.5 hours as the sun slowly rose in the hazy sky, with clouds that stubbornly refused to burn off with the waxing heat. Gazan clouds, for sure. Eventually Pam, Eva, and Adie came back to our original sector.
The harvesting passed uneventfully, interrupted occasionally by the small monitoring planes–maybe drones–that waved in and out of the skyline near the horizon. The farmers got most of their harvesting done, and told us that they wanted another 1.5 hours of escort the next day. Most of what they had grown was hay, fodder for animals.
The wheat-berries were tiny. Most of what I was eating was clearly husk. As we left, Jaber and Layla invited us in for tea but we thought there was an interview waiting for us in Gaza City and we rushed off, passing out in the car from exhaustion. To get to farming at 7 AM in Farraheen I had to get up at 5 AM. Later we learned: Israel bulldozed the land there and used blowtorches to incinerate what was left.
They burnt crops to the ground, not dangerous crops, just crops. We went by today to talk to the man who owned the crops. He clarified that the Israelis had torched 10 dunums of land. We could see the ugly black smudge from the roof of his house, 350-or-so meters away; going to see up-close, they thought, would be dangerous for us (doubt it) but more relevantly dangerous for them: it could incite a reprisal.
The blow-torching itself may have been a reprisal: you can bring in your witnesses, the army wishes to communicate, but when they leave we will burn down a part of your world.

Technorati Tags: Abasan Kabeer, farmers, Farraheen, Gaza, Palestine
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May 18th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | Category: Uncategorized

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